If you look over on my sidebar, you’ll see “The Presidential Project: reading my way through presidential biographies.” I finished the last two biographies in July. I’m finally getting around to blogging about it because I ran out the clock on library renewals. (Yes, I’m that person.) I really enjoyed the bios on our 6th and 7th presidents–John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. They are both fascinating men who led adventurous lives. I’m not going to do a full review (or two), but I enjoyed both books, John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul Nagel and The Life of Andrew Jackson by Robert Remini.
These men guided the nation through challenging and changing times. They had radically different lives, politics and understanding of the nation, yet I find them both admirable–perhaps more so than any president I’ve yet studied save George Washington. John Quincy Adams (JQA) was a young prodigy, he spent his youth in Europe with his father John Adams. He was an extraordinary diplomat, an inspired legislator, and a ho-hum president. General Jackson was orphaned at a young age, was indifferently educated, and was constantly challenging and being challenged to duels. Jackson’s entire career inspires strong feelings–either good of bad. On paper, JQA should have been an excellent president. Yet Jackson’s presidency was far more successful than JQA’s one term, and his political impact was lasting well beyond his administration.
As much as they were different in politics and personality, their similarities strike me. They were both born in 1767. They were both far more religious than any of the first 5 presidents. They were also the last presidents to have connections to the Revolutionary War. JQA was with his father while the elder Adams negotiated for America in Europe. Jackson was a messenger for the militia at 13 and taken prisoner by the British. They were both deeply in love with and greatly influenced by their wives. JQA was known for being remote and severe, but his letters and poems to Louisa Adams were passionate and longing. In today’s world men are increasingly falling prey to such illnesses and sexual disorders as they are more prone to anxiety, stress and tension. soft viagra tabs It dilates the blood vessels and generic sildenafil india boosts blood supply to the reproductive organs. With the utilization of good looking machine the penis get to be more grounded, cheap generic sildenafil harder and firmer erection. Your well being is in fact improved in extremely needed cialis canadian and enjoyable tactics anytime you orgasm. Jackson was madly in love with and protective of his Rachel. Jackson wore his passions on his sleeve, Adams wrote his in his journal and letters.
Both Nagel and Remini obviously liked these men, beyond the historical interest. Yes, they were flawed, and yes, Jackson in particular did things that we now consider abominable. But despite these flaws, they are honorable men who lived their lives in service to their country.
There is a wealth of material that I could highlight, but I’ll just point out my favorite factoid about each of these men. JQA was passionate about scientific advancement. He was ridiculed and derided for wanted to build a federal system of observatories. As a representative from Massachusetts, JQA defended James Smithson’s bequest to the United States from being squandered on boondoggles for various legislators. We have the Smithsonian Institute due in large part to his efforts.
Andrew Jackson was an unlikely success story. While charismatic and likable, he was also a trouble maker. The idea of “Jackson for President” flabbergasted the people of Salisbury, North Carolina where Jackson studied law as a young man. Remini writes, “What!” Exclaimed one lady. “Jackson up for President? Jackson? Andrew Jackson? The Jackson that used to live in Salisbury? Why, when he was here, he was such a rake that my husband would not bring him into the house! It is true, he might have taken him out to the stable to weigh horses for a race, and might drink a glass of whiskey with him there. Well, if Andrew Jackson can be President, anybody can!”
A note on what a good biographer can do: These men died more than 150 years ago. When you get to the end of the book, you know how it ends up–it is not a surprise. Yet these skilled writers caused me to care about these men to the point that I got a little (just a little!) teary at their deaths. (I bawled buckets at the end of Team of Rivals, but I was 9 months pregnant.)
Now on to Van Buren–after I return these gentlemen to the library.