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John Quincy Adams: His Struggle with Slavery in Antebellum America



I am pleased to announce the publication of my forthcoming book in late 2022 John Quincy Adams: His Struggle with Slavery in Antebellum America by History Publishing Company. The narrative centers around the thread of slavery and explores Adams's unique relationship to the "peculiar institution." As a Harvard student, and later as a diplomat, US President, member of Congress, and attorney before the Supreme Court, John Quincy Adams danced with abolitionists, but never became one. The prickly and curmudgeonly Adams found himself squarely in the middle of America's greatest struggle. Although he despised slavery and the southern slaveholders who defended it, Adams never fully supported abolition. To do so was to hasten the coming of a Civil War.


After his lackluster presidency, when he returned to Washington as a member of Congress, Adams became increasingly strident in his dramatic attempts to outsmart Southern politicians and to keep slavery in the forefront of Congressional activities and even argued the case of the Amistad Africans, while continuing his awkward dance with abolitionists and obsessing over his legacy and the future of the country he held dear. Informed by Adams's revealing and often tormented private musings from his vast diary, rich historical context, appearances from the movers and shakers of the day, and dramatic showdowns on the floor of the House of Representatives and even in the Supreme Court, this is a gripping account of John Quincy Adams's battle with slavery while exploring the many fault lines in American society that eventually led to the Civil War.


Over the next several months, I will be sending out blog posts that reflect some of the key moments in Adams's life that are reflected in the book, especially some of the important quotes from his vast diary that included some 14,000 pages. There are many twists and turns along the way. Enjoy!

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