cover image Amer Pres: Adams

Amer Pres: Adams

John Patrick Diggins. Times Books, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6937-2

Diggins pays tribute to David McCullough's reestablishment of John Adams's reputation, but he has his own take in this entry in the American Presidents series, edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. He seeks to rebut the conventional wisdom that the country's second president was a""loser,"" a view based on the fact after losing the election of 1800, Adams's party, the Federalists, disappeared from the scene. The 1800 election was, in fact, a triumph for Adams and the ideas the Federalists espoused, says CUNY historian Diggins (On Hallowed Ground), as an opposition party came to power""without America shedding a single drop of blood."" Furthermore, Diggins asserts,""American political history begins with the rift between Adams and Jefferson,"" and though Adams has been disparaged by historians, he played a central role in the development of American democracy. More than just a miniature of our second president, Diggins's slim volume offers a reconsideration of Adams, a thoughtful study of American politics of the period and Adams's legacy for today.