GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE AND OTHER PAPERS OF THE ADAMS STATESMEN
Cover: Papers of John Adams, Volume 20: June 1789 – February 1791, from Harvard University PressCover: Papers of John Adams, Volume 20 in HARDCOVER

Papers of John Adams, Volume 20

June 1789 – February 1791

John Adams’s shaping of the vice presidency dominates this volume of the Papers of John Adams, which chronicles a formative era in American government spanning June 1789 to February 1791.

As the first federal Congress struggled to interpret the U.S. Constitution and implement a new economic framework, Adams held fast to federalist principles and staked out boundaries for his executive powers. Meeting in New York City, Adams and his colleagues warred over how to collect revenue and where to locate the federal seat. They established and staffed the departments of state, treasury, and war. Adams focused on presiding over the Senate, where he broke several ties. Enduring the daily grind of politics, he lauded the “National Spirit” of his fellow citizens and pledged to continue laboring for the needs of the American people. “If I did not love them now, I would not Serve them another hour—for I very well know that Vexation and Chagrine, must be my Portion, every moment I shall continue in public Life,” Adams wrote. He plunged back into writing, using his Discourses on Davila to synthesize national progress with republican history. Whether or not the union would hold, as regional interests impeded congressional action, remained Adams’s chief concern. “There is every Evidence of good Intentions on all sides but there are too many Symptoms of old Colonial Habits: and too few, of great national Views,” he observed.

Once again, John Adams’s frank letters reveal firsthand the labor of nation-building in an age of constitutions.

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, by Anthony Abraham Jack, from Harvard University Press

Book Club Spotlight: The Privileged Poor

As students around the world deliberate their options for further education, only made more challenging in a pandemic, we’re reminded that getting in is only half the battle. In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack asks how—and why—do disadvantaged students struggle at elite colleges? What can schools can do differently if these students are to thrive? As back to school season begins, we spoke to two university book clubs that read and discussed The Privileged Poor this summer.