- Henry Adams (1838 - 1918)
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Dixwell in Boston where he was graduated in June On August 31 of that year, he began his collegiate studies at Harvard. Henry was only an average student at Harvard but did contribute to the Harvard Magazine and was Class Orator for graduation.
Throughout his life, Adams was critical of formal education; even Harvard could not escape his scorn. Following graduation in , Henry sailed with several friends for the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a tradition that some of the privileged young men of the day enjoyed. Adams's specific plan was to study civil law in Berlin. Finding his German inadequate, he enrolled in a German secondary school. He spent most of seeing Europe, significantly beginning his writing career by publishing travel letters in the Boston Daily Courier.
Returning home in October , Henry served in Washington as private secretary to his father, a member of Congress.
He was also Washington correspondent for the Boston Daily Advertiser during this volatile period, just before the beginning of the Civil War. Henry continued as private secretary to his father during Charles Francis Adams's tenure as Minister to England ; until January , he was also the secret London correspondent of the New York Times , a situation that nearly caused him and his father considerable embarrassment see Chapter VIII of the Critical Commentaries.
The American Civil War years were especially intriguing because his father's work dealt with pro-Confederacy interests and successfully tried to keep England neutral.
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Returning to the States in July , Henry concentrated on a career as a freelance political journalist in Washington. He published extensively in journals during this period and earned a reputation as a reformer, especially in articles dealing with American finance and the New York gold conspiracy. While vacationing in Europe in the summer of , he learned that his beloved sister Louisa had been in a cab accident near her home in Italy.
He rushed to her side, but she died of tetanus a few days later. Despondent, Henry briefly sought solace in a monastery in England. He received a letter from the president of Harvard offering a position as assistant professor of history and editor of the prestigious North American Review. With personal reluctance but overwhelming encouragement of family and friends, he accepted. At Harvard, he gained a reputation as an effective, innovative teacher and an unorthodox, iconoclastic, sometimes-dictatorial editor. He was an American pioneer in the use of the seminar system, evaluations by students, and the importance of student journals.
He introduced graduate studies in history at Harvard and promoted the study of American history. The couple spent the next academic year on an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt. This precipitated a period of extensive publishing that included The Life of Albert Gallatin ; two novels Democracy , published anonymously in , and Esther , published under the pseudonym "Frances Snow Compton," in ; a critical biography of the southern statesman John Randolph ; and, most important, the History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison , in nine volumes.
On December 6, , Henry's wife, Marian, committed suicide after a long period of depression, a disease that ran in her family. The event was especially traumatic for Adams and the principal reason for his leaving twenty years of his life out of his most famous work, The Education of Henry Adams published in He sometimes referred to the rest of his life as "posthumous," but some of his best work was completed after his wife's tragic death.
After Adams's wife's suicide, his friends became even more important to him. Elizabeth Cameron, married to a Senator from Pennsylvania, became his emotional confidante in an apparently platonic relationship. Henry continued his interest in politics, explored a scientific approach to history, studied medieval philosophy and architecture, and wrote extensively. The Panic of drew him into the controversy over the gold standard: The question was whether international trade and American currency should be based on gold only or on both gold and silver, which would expand the economy and cheapen the currency.
Henry supported the backers of silver and feared a new ruling class of gold capitalists whom he called gold-bugs. He also advocated independence for Cuba. Remarkable advances in science caused him to wonder if scientific method could be successfully applied to the study of history. He thought of this and the Education as companion pieces.
Henry Adams was partially paralyzed by a stroke in and spent most of his remaining years traveling, resting, receiving dignitaries, and quietly socializing at his home at H Street in Washington. The first trade publication of his Education came out later that year and was an immediate best-seller.
In , Modern Library listed the Education as the best nonfiction book, written in English, of the twentieth century. Each illustrates a different aspect of Adams's intellect and contributes to his reputation as a writer of diverse talents and interests. If Mont Saint Michel portrayed a world unified by a common faith, The Education of Henry Adams portrayed a world irresistibly moving toward chaos.
The world once unified by the Virgin was now ruled by the impersonal Dynamo and was already confronted by the "metaphysical bomb" of radium and the prospect of infinite energy for man's use. Adams balances, with extraordinary urbanity and wit, the rival claims he found as much in himself as in modern civilization.
Together, these two works still pose an urgent question: can the human mind ultimately control the monstrous aggregates of power which it has wrung from nature? The Library of America series includes more than volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1, pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Read more Read less. About the Author Born in into one of the oldest and most distinguished families in Boston, a family which had produced two American presidents, Henry Adams had the opportunity to pursue a wide-ranging variety of intellectual interests during the course of his life. No customer reviews. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.
Henry Adams (1838 - 1918)
January 21, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. The Library of America is one of the best organizations. Here at last are both novels, his interesting autobiography, and Mont St Michel all under one roof. Esther is attempt deal with the "woman question. Henry Adams. Known as "Voltaire in petticoats" Henry James , she later tragically took her own life following a period of depression.
The death of his wife led to Henry Adams' retirement from public life. This subject is covered in Ernest Samuels' wonderful biography which I also recommend. The best and probably the most key chapter in the book is the one entitled "The Virgin and Dynamo.
Adams believed with the growth of technology that man would somehow outgrow the simple humanity of the Middle Ages it would have been interesting if Adams had lived long enough to meet someone like Carl Jung to see what he would have to say on this subject! One of the foremost historians the Library of America has also issued the history of Jefferson and Madison's Administrations, which is a classic , Adams became interested in the Middle Ages and his survey of the two great cathedrals of France Chartes and Mont St. Michel is the final book in the volume. I cannot recommend this book too highly, it is a must for all fans of Henry Adams and those who would like to experience him for the first time.
May 11, - Published on Amazon. January 3, - Published on Amazon. Most readers approach the works of Henry Adams a 19th Century mind for all time by sampling first his "Autobiography" which stands above most from that century. That is only a starting point in measuring the comprehensive intellect of this man. I will only contain my admiration to his political novel, "Democracy" here, which I highly recommend to all whose careers or interest focus on our working government or political science in general.
It is surprising how this nation, a reputed democracy, continues to look to England for its TV fodder on politics while this political jewel with measurable comparisons to political reality is overlooked. How modern the story-line is with 2 heroines, the Lee sisters Madeleine and Sybil who elect to drop in on Washington society as observers of the power intrigues without getting trapped or harmed. It took me by surprise how brilliant Adams was in his selection. You are introduced to the sisters who become very human and protective of one another as the political intrigues multiply, creating a tension between them, natural and unpredictable, while they create their own stir in the inner-Washington society.
The Henry Adams Collection: 4 Classic Works - AbeBooks - Henry Adams:
The tension builds as the sisters attempt to maintain their own sibling affection caught in the web of intrigue that hinges on private correspondence read only at the proper time which happens to be 8 pages before the end which delivers an explosive climax to their stay in Washington. Before reading the novel, I was aware that Adams used the Grant administration for his backdrop, but I was completely blown away how he managed to use the movements of the sisters as the fulcrum to the story, to unmask the fools and fraudsters so brilliantly.
The dressing-down Madeleine gives to Sen. Ratcliffe is worth re-reading. It goes without saying, that if things have not improved in Washington D. You will shout with joy at the finish. But on reflection realizing this is a work of fiction, one only hopes our current leaders weigh the political stakes with the same clarity as the Lee sisters.
December 2, - Published on Amazon. I believe that Henry Adams was an extraordinary visionary and interpreter of the developing world in his age.