Heir to the Fathers: John Quincy Adams and the Spirit of Constitutional Government
Lexington Books, 2004 - 249 pages
In Heir to the Fathers, author Gary V. Wood examines the ideas that guided John Quincy Adams throughout his political career. For Wood, it is Adams' understanding of The Constitution of the United States that foregrounds a crucial link between the principles laid-forth in The Declaration of Independence and the original intent of the Framers of The Constitution. Heir to the Fathers traces this link through an examination of Adams' celebrated essay, Jubilee of the Constitution and, most significantly, through his defense of a group of Africans who mutinied aboard the slave ship Amistad. The contradictory relationship between what is stated The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution and the treatment of African slaves has been a persistent problem in any attempt to understand the legacy of freedom in the United States. Adams' argument before the Supreme Court, based on his interpretation of constitutional law, is an example of how this unique political mind comes to terms with this contradiction without abandoning the spirit of America's founding principles. Wood's discussion of Adams' political and intellectual life invites readers to reexamination the principles upon which the United States of America was founded. Heir to the Fathers is a salient addition to the study of constitutional law and history and American political thought.
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