The Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of Founding Brothers and His Excellency brings America’s preeminent first couple to life in a moving and illuminating narrative that sweeps through the American Revolution and the republic’s tenuous early years.
John and Abigail Adams left an indelible and remarkably preserved portrait of their lives together in their personal correspondence: both Adamses were prolific letter writers (although John conceded that Abigail was clearly the more gifted of the two), and over the years they exchanged more than 1,200 letters. Joseph J. Ellis distills this unprecedented and unsurpassed record to give us an account both intimate and panoramic; part biography, part political history, and part love story.
After they married, the couple were separated nearly as much as they were together. John’s political career took him first to Philadelphia, where he became the boldest advocate for the measures that would lead to the Declaration of Independence. Later he was sent to Paris, where he served as a minister to the court of France alongside Benjamin Franklin. These years apart stressed the Adamses’ union almost beyond what it could bear.
John was elected the nation’s first vice president, but by the time of his reelection, Abigail’s health prevented her from joining him in Philadelphia, the interim capital. She no doubt had further reservations about moving to the swamp on the Potomac when John became president, although this time he persuaded her.
President Adams inherited a weak and bitterly divided country from George Washington. The political situation was perilous at best, and he needed his closest advisor by his side: “I can do nothing,” John told Abigail after his election, “without you.”
In Ellis’s rich and striking new history, John and Abigail’s relationship unfolds in the context of America’s birth as a nation.
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Destined for Each Other
Once I was finished I came to the conclusion that the author would like us to think that John Adams may have been a hot-headed curmudgeon but in the end he was a lovable one and Abigail Adams may not have been perfect but she was close - very close. Also John Quincy Adams was a product of his parents scheming and determination, the rest of their children (excepting the stillborn child) were destined to failure, Benjamin Franklin was a blowhard, Thomas Jefferson duplicitous and Alexander Hamilton? Just a jerk. The book is understandably heavy on Adams love and also heavy on the Adams love - the love between John And Abigail. Readers will come away feeling the deep bond between them and at the same time will see that politics, even among the revered founding fathers was just as cutthroat, competitive and filled with backbiting and character assassination as it is now. Some things never change.
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