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John Randolph (1882)

por Henry Adams

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Séries: American Statesmen (16)

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John Randolph, known as John Randolph of Roanoke, represented Virginia in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and once famously stated, I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality." Ideal for history buffs, Henry Adams's biography of this prominent politician examines Randolph's tumultuous career and disdainfully covers his preference for Jeffersonian policies rather than the Federalist politics of Adams's own ancestors.… (mais)
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John Randolph was a Jeffersonian Republican and a Virginian to the manor born. He was a virulent political opponent of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The author of this biography was Henry Adams, great-grandson and grandson of the two Massachusetts presidents. The Adamses and the Randolphs could hardly have been more dissimilar in politics, religion, and every other important influence upon one's outlook on life. In sum, Henry Adams is not an unbiased biographer of John Randolph. Henry Adams skewers this Virginia eccentric and Randolph made it easy.

Do these differences and biases make Henry Adams an unreliable biographer of John Randolph? I do not really know because frankly John Randolph is such a minor character in American history that books about him are obscure in the extreme. Adams was a respected writer and historian, but that does not bar him from bias. (See, e.g. History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (Library of America)) From what I have gathered elsewhere, Randolph was an impulsive, outrageously outspoken, heavy-drinking man who may not have been entirely sane.

But really, who cares if Adams is entirely objective or not? I became interested in John Randolph because he keeps popping up in early 19th century American history. He was briefly an important Republican Congressional leader, but if his name is remembered at all, it really remembered because of his eccentricities of drink, manner, politics, and language.

When I learned that the great Henry Adams had penned a biography, the lure was irresistible. John Randolph was rara avis - an odd duck. The fact that Adams had a viewpoint, OK, an axe or two to grind, only makes the book more delicious. Henry Adams could write and his writing is anchored in historical fact. He also gives the reader the flavor and feel of times whether he is entirely fair to Randolph or not. Better than most historians of this era, Adams succinctly lays out the fears of despotism that motivated the early Jeffersonians. He also sees his great-grandfather John's use of the Alien and Sedition laws as putting the republic in `real danger'.

I found John Randolph considerably easier sledding than his far better know The Education of Henry Adams: A Centennial Version. For more on Adams see Garry Wills'Henry Adams and the Making of America. His John Randolph is a short, but fascinating slice of American history. ( )
  dougwood57 | Oct 7, 2008 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Henry Adamsautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Cantor, MiltonIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
McColley, RobertContribuidorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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John Randolph, known as John Randolph of Roanoke, represented Virginia in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and once famously stated, I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality." Ideal for history buffs, Henry Adams's biography of this prominent politician examines Randolph's tumultuous career and disdainfully covers his preference for Jeffersonian policies rather than the Federalist politics of Adams's own ancestors.

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