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Appears in Collections:History and Politics eTheses
Title: Virtuous Intimates: the Political Friendships of John Adams, c.1774-1801
Author(s): Macpherson, Jamie
Supervisor(s): Nicolson, Colin
Keywords: John Adams
Issue Date: 25-Nov-2019
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis studies John Adams’s five major political friendships during his twenty-seven years of national public service, 1774-1801, with: Abigail Adams, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Rush. Each dyad demonstrates different aspects of friendship as a political relationship: primary friendship (Abigail Adams), idolised revolutionary (Samuel Adams), political alliance (Gerry), intellectual intimacy (Rush), and rivalry (Jefferson). Hitherto, scholars overlooked the politics of friendship and political friendship when studying political leadership in the Revolutionary Era and American republicanism. This thesis overcomes such limitations and examines how Adams considered and utilised friendship in Congressional service, diplomacy, and national leadership. Adams and his friends understood and celebrated friendship as a neo-classical relationship. Friendship presented an ideal relationship which governed the interactions between citizens and provided for a model of virtue in politics. This dissertation is separated into three books based on the stages in John’s public career: the Continental Congresses (1774-1778), international diplomacy (1778-1788), and executive service (1788-1801). At each stage of his public life, Adams looked to friendship to advance his career, defend his country, and debate radicalism. John changed his expectation of friendship at each stage: Abigail emerged as his primary political counsellor; Gerry his principle political ally; Jefferson his emergent rival; Rush his manipulating but intimate friend; Samuel Adams his idolised revolutionary ally, but radical opponent. As an isolated Congressman, diplomat, and national leader, friendship provided John with the ideal forum for confidential political exchanges through which he attempted to exert influence, resist radicalism, and defend his personal politics. Adams’s often impassioned letters to friends present a window into his private rumination. He entreated friends’ support, was sensitive to any perceived diminution of intimacy, and bitterly lamented political divisions. Friendship, for Adams, was the most intimate form of politics.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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