Preface and Part One
In the preface to Profiles in Courage, Kennedy discusses his interest in the ‘‘problems of political courage in the face of constituent pressures, and the light shed on those problems by the lives of past statesmen.’’ He describes the three types of pressure faced by senators: pressure to be liked, pressure to be re-elected, and pressure of the constituency and interest groups.
Kennedy provides a brief history of the U.S. Senate and moves on to his discussion of John Quincy Adams. In office, Adams supported measures he thought were best for the country, with little regard for his party’s stances on various issues. Further, he would not back away from legislation— such as Jefferson’s proposed embargo against the British in 1807—that would have negative consequences for his state of Massachusetts. It was this embargo, in fact, that ultimately led to Adams’ status as an outcast in his own party and state.
Faced with certain replacement, Adams resigned his Senate seat. Years later, he would be elected President, a term he would serve as an independent, rather than as a member of the Federalist Party. After his White House years, Adams was asked to run for Congress, which he did under two conditions. First, he would not campaign, and second, he would serve as an independent, free of party and constituent pressures. He won by a landslide, and served in Congress until his death.
(The entire section is 236 words.)