Emerson refers to ‘‘great days and victories behind’’ that ‘‘shed a united light,’’ which in turn ‘‘throws ... America into Adams's eye.’’ Emerson may be referring to John Adams (1735-1826), a revolutionary with a combative style who became the second president of the United States.
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the son of John Adams who became the sixth president of the United States. John Quincy Adams was a friend of Emerson's father and later an outspoken critic of Emerson's transcendentalism.
Samuel Adams (1722-1803) was a leader of the American Revolution who later served in Congress.
Emerson asks, "Why all this deference to ... Gustavus?’’ He may be referring to Gustavus Adolphus (1594-1632), a king of Sweden who reclaimed territory held by Denmark, Russia, and Poland.
Emerson asks, "Why all this deference to ... Alfred?’’ He is referring to Alfred the Great (849-899), a Saxon king who kept the Danes from overrunning southwest England. Known for promoting literacy, Alfred valued learning.
Emerson quotes Ali (circa 600-661), the son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his acknowledged successor. Ali's sayings had been published in English in 1832.
(The entire section is 1758 words.)
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