A Magnificent Catastrophe (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been close collaborators and friends during the American Revolution, but in 1800 each headed opposing political parties. In 1776, both urged the Continental Congress to declare independence, and Adams served with Jefferson on the committee to write the Declaration of Independence, suggesting improvements to Jefferson’s draft. As American diplomats in Europe after the peace, they supported each other’s efforts, and the two families grew close. Abigail Adams aided Jefferson’s daughter while Jefferson introduced young John Quincy Adams to the niceties of European diplomacy. Absent from the 1789 Constitutional Convention while serving in Europe, each supported the new Constitution with reservations; as Adams phrased it, he feared the rise of an aristocracy while Jefferson worried about the possibility of monarchy.
By 1800, what had seemed differences in emphasis had become unbridgeable chasms. The divergence began during George Washington’s presidency, when Secretary of State Jefferson objected to the domestic policies of Secretary of Treasury Hamilton, which Jefferson thought favored wealthy, urban investors to the detriment of rural Americans. As Edward J. Larson points out, disagreements over domestic policy became highly emotional when they intersected with different reactions to the French Revolution. To Jeffersonians, it was a continuation and validation of the American Revolution as a world-altering event....
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
The American Scholar 76, no. 4 (Fall, 2007): 129-131.
Booklist 103, no. 21 (July 1, 2007): 24.
The Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2007, p. 14.
Entertainment Weekly, no. 957 (October 5, 2007): 75.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 12 (June 15, 2007): 593.
Library Journal 132, no. 12 (July 15, 2007): 103-104.
The New York Times Book Review 157 (December 16, 2007): 28.
The New Yorker 83, no. 27 (September 17, 2007): 94-98.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 21 (May 21, 2007): 43-44.
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