Adams, Henry

Adams, Henry,

1838–1918, American writer and historian, b. Boston; son of Charles Francis AdamsAdams, Charles Francis,
1807–86, American public official, minister to Great Britain (1861–68), b. Boston; son of John Quincy Adams. After a boyhood spent in various European capitals, he was graduated (1825) from Harvard and studied law under Daniel Webster.
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 (1807–86). He was secretary (1861–68) to his father, then U.S. minister to Great Britain. Upon his return to the United States, having already abandoned the law and seeing no opportunity in the traditional Adams vocation of politics, he briefly pursued journalism. He reluctantly accepted (1870) an offer to teach medieval history at Harvard, but nonetheless stayed on seven years and also edited (1870–76) the North American Review.

In 1877 Adams moved to Washington, D.C., his home thereafter. He wrote a good biography of Albert GallatinGallatin, Albert
, 1761–1849, American financier and public official, b. Geneva, Switzerland. Left an orphan at nine, Gallatin was reared by his patrician relatives and had an excellent education.
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 (1879), a less satisfactory one of John RandolphRandolph, John,
1773–1833, American legislator, known as John Randolph of Roanoke, b. Prince George co., Va. He briefly studied law under his cousin Edmund Randolph. He served in the U.S.
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 (1882), and two novels (the first anonymously and the second under a pseudonym)—Democracy (1880), a cutting satire on politics, and Esther (1884). His exhaustive study of the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, History of the United States of America (9 vol., 1889–91; reprinted in a number of editions), is one of the major achievements of American historical writing. Famous for its style, it is deficient, perhaps, in understanding the basic economic forces at work, but the first six chapters constitute one of the best social surveys of any period in U.S. history.

Never of a sanguine temperament, Adams became even more pessimistic after the suicide (1885) of his wife, Clover. He abandoned American history and began a series of restless journeys, physical and mental, in an effort to achieve a basic philosophy of history. Drawing upon the physical sciences for guidance and influenced by his brother, Brooks AdamsAdams, Brooks,
1848–1927, American historian, b. Quincy, Mass.; son of Charles Francis Adams (1807–86). His theory that civilization rose and fell according to the growth and decline of commerce was first developed in The Law of Civilization and Decay (1895).
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, he found a satisfactory unifying principle in force, or energy. He selected for intensive treatment two periods: 1050–1250, presented in Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (privately printed 1904, pub. 1913), and his own era, presented in The Education of Henry Adams (privately printed 1906, pub. 1918). The first is a brilliant idealization of the Middle Ages, specifically of the 13th-century unity brought about by the force of the Virgin, which was dominant then. The second was classified by his publishers as an autobiography, although it was written in the third person and was unrevealing about much of his life. It is, however, a tour de force, and describes his unsuccessful efforts to achieve intellectual peace in an age when the force of the dynamo was dominant. These two books, containing some of the most beautiful English ever written, rather than his monumental History, won Adams his lasting place as a major American writer.

The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma (1919), edited by Brooks Adams and prefaced with a memoir by Henry Adams, contains three brilliant essays on his philosophy of history—"The Tendency of History," "A Letter to American Teachers of History" (pub. separately in 1910), and "The Rule of Phase Applied to History." Friendships, especially those with John HayHay, John Milton,
1838–1905, American author and statesman who was an important political figure from the mid-19th cent. into the early 20th cent.; b. Salem, Ind., grad. Brown. He practiced law at Springfield, Ill., where he met Abraham Lincoln.
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 and Clarence King, played a large part in Adams's life, and his personal letters reveal a warmer man than one might suspect.


See his letters (ed. by W. C. Ford, 2 vol., 1930–38) and H. D. Cater, ed., Henry Adams and His Friends: A Collection of His Unpublished Letters (1947); W. Thoron, ed., The Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams, 1865–1883 (1936); biographies by J. T. Adams (1933, repr. 1970) and E. Samuels (3 vol., 1948–64); biography of his wife by N. Dykstra (2012); W. Dusinberre, Henry Adams: The Myth of Failure (1980); E. Chalfant, Better in Darkness (1994); R. Brookhiser, America's First Dynasty: The Adamses, 1735–1918 (2002); G. Wills, Henry Adams and the Making of America (2005).

Adams, Henry (Brooks)

(1838–1918) historian; born in Boston, Mass. (grandson of President John Quincy Adams, son of Charles Francis Adams, brother of Brooks Adams). After graduating from Harvard and studying law in Germany, he served as secretary to his father during the latter's term as ambassador to England (1861–68). On returning to the U.S.A. he went to Washington, D.C., but, disillusioned by the new government, he turned to teaching both medieval and American history at Harvard (1870–77) (where he is credited with introducing the seminar system into U.S. education). He left teaching and returned to Washington, D.C., where although he had a small circle of elite friends, he remained out of step with the new nation; he expressed this in his novel Democracy (1880). He continued to publish biographies and a nine-volume History of the United States of America from 1801 to 1817 (1889–91). After the death of his wife, Marian Hooper (1885), he traveled to many parts of the world but he always returned to Washington. He privately published Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (1904) and The Education of Henry Adams (1907), but their success led to trade editions (1913 and 1918, respectively); the latter, now regarded as an idiosyncratic American classic, was his detached view of his problematic relationship with his times, and he did not have to deal with the irony of its receiving a posthumous Pulitzer Prize (1919).
References in periodicals archive ?
The author argues that the conservatism that exists today does not resemble the traditional conservatism (which began in the late 19th century) of Edmund Burke, John Adams, Henry Adams, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, and other political thinkers, and is instead rooted in capitalism and materialism.
Man of Steel stars Amy Adams, Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon.
The 12th Amendment eliminated that particular flaw, but in 1824 a four-way race between Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay and William Crawford ended with none of the candidates getting a majority of the electoral votes, although Jackson most likely won the popular vote.
DEVERONVALE: McConnachie, Rae, Adams, Henry, Fraser, Rodger, Rennie, Cowie, Meldrum, Morrison, Watt.
Currently managed by West Indian great Alvin Kallicharran, Lashings line-ups have included Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Aravinda De Silva, Chris Cairns, Gordon Greenidge, Jimmy Adams, Henry Olonga, Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Viv Richards since they were formed in 1984.
Minister to Great Britain during the Civil War, Charles Francis Adams; and the brother of another noted American author, Brooks Adams, Henry Adams moved easily (if not always willingly) among those with power and reputation.
In discussing one day the four candidates for president in 1824--John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and William Crawford--I mentioned in my typical wiseass manner that Crawford was not related to Wahoo Sam Crawford, who is featured in a wonderful new book, The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It.
Richard Stott pulled out earlier in the afternoon after his wife gave birth, Jack Adams, Henry Trinder.
In the brief contact I've had with them the likes of Jack Adams, Henry Trinder, Dan Norton look exciting youngsters and guys that I'd love to play with.
The author uncovers further clues about Gardner from writings of friends such as Clover and Henry Adams, Henry James, and Maud Howe Elliott.
Sorenson's original book sketched principled moments in the careers of 19th-century Senators, including John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Sam Houston.
Booked: Dacourt (Leeds); Adams, Henry, Keown, Lauren, Luzhny, Parlour, Silvinho (Arsenal).