Chestertown, MD, April 1, 2003 — “My plain writings,” wrote John Adams in 1820, “have been misunderstood by many, misrepresented by more, and anathematized by multitudes who never read them.”
But after nearly 200 years, that may be about to change. On Thursday, April 17, Kees de Mooy of Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience will present “John Adams in His Own Words,” an opportunity to reevaluate the most controversial and cantankerous of the Founding Fathers. De Mooy will read from his newly published book, The Wisdom of John Adams (Citadel Press), a collection of Adams's writings on subjects from patriotism to religion to parenthood. The event, which will be held at 4 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center Forum, will be followed by a book-signing. It is free and open to the public.
The nation's second president and a leader of the revolutionary generation, Adams has drawn new attention since the publication of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by David McCullough. “His accomplishments have sometimes been overshadowed by his peers Washington and Jefferson,” de Mooy acknowledges. “Yet he was a truly heroic figure in his own right – intelligent, passionate, fiercely patriotic, and staunchly committed to the ideals of the United States.”
Adams was also fiercely – some might say stubbornly – opinionated, about everything from politics (“I shall be plagued with piddling politicians as long as I live”) to the French (“Stern and haughty republican as I am, I cannot help loving these people”) to his own shortcomings (“Vanity … is my cardinal vice and cardinal folly”). De Mooy, who is the Starr Center's program manager and a 2001 graduate of Washington College, combed through thousands of Adams's letters, written over a period of more than 70 years, to find the most revealing and colorful passages. He has recently finished a similar volume on Thomas Jefferson, which will be published later this year, and is at work on another on Abraham Lincoln. The Wisdom of John Adams will be available for sale at the April 17 event.
For more information about C. V. Starr Center events and programs, visit the Center online athttp://starrcenter.washcoll.edu, or call 410-810-7156.