HENRY BROOKS ADAMS (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918) was an American historian and member of the Adams political family , being descended from two U.S. Presidents.
As a young
In his lifetime, he was best known for his
His posthumously published memoirs,
The Education of Henry Adams ,
* 1 Early life
* 2 Civil War years
* 10 Writings by Adams
* 10.1 Reprinted
* 11 See also * 12 References * 13 Further reading * 14 External links
He was born in Boston, the son of Charles Francis Adams, Sr.
(1807–1886) and Abigail Brooks (1808–1889) into one of the
country's most prominent families. Both his paternal grandfather,
John Quincy Adams
After his graduation from
CIVIL WAR YEARS
Adams returned home from Europe in the midst of the heated
presidential election of 1860, which also was the year his father,
Charles Francis Adams, Sr., sought re-election to the US House of
Representatives. He tried his hand again at law, taking employment
On March 19, 1861,
While in Britain, Henry read and was taken with the works of John Stuart Mill . For Adams, Mill's Considerations on Representative Government showed the necessity of an enlightened, moral, and intelligent elite to provide leadership to a government elected by the masses and subject to demagoguery, ignorance, and corruption. Henry wrote to his brother Charles that Mill demonstrated to him that "democracy is still capable of rewarding a conscientious servant." His years in London led Adams to conclude that he could best provide that knowledgeable and conscientious leadership by working as a correspondent and journalist.
HISTORIAN AND INTELLECTUAL
In 1868, Henry Adams returned to the United States and settled in Washington, DC, where he began working as a journalist . Adams saw himself as a traditionalist longing for the democratic ideal of the 17th and 18th centuries. Accordingly, he was keen on exposing political corruption in his journalism.
Adams said, "I think that Lee should have been hanged. It was all the worse that he was a good man and a fine character and acted conscientiously. It's always the good men who do the most harm in the world."
In 1870, Adams was appointed professor of medieval history at
Harvard, a position he held until his early retirement in 1877 at 39.
As an academic historian , Adams is considered to have been the first
(in 1874–1876) to conduct historical seminar work in the United
States. Among his students was
Henry Cabot Lodge
On June 27, 1872, Clover Hooper and he were married in Beverly,
Massachusetts, and spent their honeymoon in Europe, much of it with
Charles Milnes Gaskell at
Wenlock Abbey in
In the 1880s, Adams wrote two novels, starting with
Adams was a member of an exclusive circle, a group of friends called
the "Five of Hearts" that consisted of Henry, his wife Clover,
geologist and mountaineer
Clarence King ,
John Hay (assistant to
Lincoln and later Secretary of State), and Hay's wife Clara. One of
Adams's frequent travel companions was the artist
John La Farge
In 1884, Adams was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society . In 1894, Adams was elected president of the American Historical Association . His address, entitled "The Tendency of History", was delivered in absentia. The essay predicted the development of a scientific approach to history, but was somewhat ambiguous as to what this achievement might mean.
In 1904, Adams privately published a copy of his "Mont Saint Michel
and Chartres ", a pastiche of history, travel, and poetry that
celebrated the unity of medieval society, especially as represented in
the great cathedrals of France. Originally meant as a diversion for
his nieces and "nieces-in-wish", it was publicly released in 1913 at
the request of
Ralph Adams Cram , an important American architect, and
published with support of the
American Institute of Architects
The Education of Henry Adams in 1907, in a small private
edition for selected friends. For Adams, the
In 1912, Adams suffered a stroke, perhaps brought on by news of the sinking of the Titanic , for which he had return tickets to Europe. After the stroke, his scholarly output diminished, but he continued to travel, write letters, and host dignitaries and friends at his Washington, DC, home. Henry Adams died at age 80 in Washington, DC. He is interred beside his wife in Rock Creek Cemetery , Washington, DC.
TROUBLED MENTAL HEALTH OF HIS WIFE, CLOVER, AND HER SUICIDE
On Sunday morning, December 6, 1885, after a late breakfast at their home, 1607 H Street on Lafayette Square, Adams's wife, Marian Hooper Adams, known in her circle as Clover, went to her room. Adams, troubled by a toothache, had planned to see his dentist. While departing his home, he was met by a woman calling to see his wife. Adams went upstairs to her room to ask if she would receive the visitor and found his wife lying on a rug before the fire. An opened vial of potassium cyanide lay nearby. Clover had frequently used this poisonous chemical in the processing of her photographs. Adams carried his wife to a sofa, then ran for a doctor. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Charles E. Hagner pronounced Clover dead.
Much speculation and numerous theories have been given concerning the causes of Clover Adams's suicide. Her death has been attributed to depression over her father's death. Her suicide was also related to a family history of mental depression and suicide, a sense of frustration and unfulfillment as a cultured person and as a woman, and a feeling of intellectual inferiority over her husband's interest in and attention to another woman. The validity of any or all of these causes was sharpened by Henry Adams's destruction of most of Clover's letters and photos following her death. In addition, a profound silence about his wife after her suicide and the conspicuous absence of any reference to her in his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, further contributed to an atmosphere of suspicion and mystery.
Henry, his brother, Charles Francis Adams, Clover's brother Edward, and her sister Ellen, with her husband Ephraim Gurney, were the attendees at a brief funeral service held on December 9, 1885, at the house on Lafayette Square. Interment services followed at Rock Creek Cemetery, but the actual burial was postponed until December 11, 1885, because of the inclement weather. A few weeks later, Adams ordered a modest headstone as a temporary marker.
RECOVERY FROM WIFE\'S DEATH AND LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH ELIZABETH SHERMAN CAMERON
On Christmas Day, Adams sent Elizabeth Sherman Cameron, a longtime friend and confidant, one of Clover's favorite pieces of jewelry requesting that she "sometimes wear it, to remind you of her." Just before the end of the year, Adams moved into his newly completed mansion next door at 1603 H Street (Figure 1, B) designed by his old friend, Henry Hobson Richardson , one of the most prominent architects of his day.
Following his wife's death, Adams took up a restless life as a
globetrotter, traveling extensively, spending summers in Paris and
winters in Washington, where he commissioned the
Adams Memorial ,
designed by sculptor
Augustus Saint-Gaudens and architect Stanford
White for her grave site in Rock Creek Cemetery. Portrait of
Elizabeth Sherman Cameron (1900) by
Henry Adams first met Elizabeth Cameron in January 1881 at a
reception in the drawing room of the house of John and Clara Hay.
Elizabeth was considered to be one of the most beautiful and
intelligent women in the Washington area. Elizabeth had grown up as
Lizzie Sherman, the daughter of Judge Charles Sherman of Ohio, the
niece of Secretary of the Treasury
John Sherman in Hayes's cabinet and
the niece of General
William Tecumseh Sherman
Henry Adams initiated a correspondence with Lizzie on May 19, 1883, when her husband and she departed for Europe. That letter reflected his unhappiness with her departure and his longing for her return. It was the first of hundreds to follow for the next 35 years. They would record a passionate yet unconsummated relationship. On December 7, 1884, one year before Clover's suicide, Henry Adams wrote to Lizzie, "I shall dedicate my next poem to you. I shall have you carved over the arch of my stone doorway. I shall publish your volume of extracts with your portrait on the title page. None of these methods can fully express the extent to which I am yours."
Adams's wife, Clover, who had written a weekly letter to her father throughout her marriage except for the brief hiatus during her breakdown along the Nile, never mentioned concerns or suspicions about Henry's relationship with Lizzie. Nothing in the letters of her family or circle of friends indicates her distrust or unhappiness with her husband in this matter. Indeed, after her death, Henry found a letter from Clover to her sister Ellen which had not been posted. The survival of this letter was assured by its contents which read, "If I had one single point of character or goodness, I would stand on that and grow back to life. Henry is more patient and loving than words can express—God might envy him— he bears and hopes and despairs hour after hour—Henry is beyond all words tenderer and better than all of you even."
SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS
Main article: Entropy and life
In 1910, Adams printed and distributed to university libraries and
history professors the small volume A Letter to American Teachers of
In his 1909 manuscript The Rule of Phase Applied to History, Adams attempted to use Maxwell\'s demon as a historical metaphor , though he seems to have misunderstood and misapplied the principle. Adams interpreted history as a process moving towards "equilibrium", but he saw militaristic nations (he felt Germany pre-eminent in this class) as tending to reverse this process, a "Maxwell's Demon of history."
Adams made many attempts to respond to the criticism of his formulation from his scientific colleagues, but the work remained incomplete at Adams's death in 1918. It was published posthumously.
Adams's attitude towards
Adams, like many contemporary antisemites, believed the Jews
conspired to control the world. His letters were "peppered with a
variety of antisemitic remarks", according to historian Robert
Michael. Adams wrote: "I detest , and everything connected with them,
and I live only and solely with the hope of seeing their demise, with
all their accursed Judaism. I want to see all the lenders at interest
taken out and executed."
"We are in the hands of the Jews", Adams lamented. "They can do what they please with our values." He advised against investment except in the form of gold locked in a safe deposit box. "There you have no risk but the burglar. In any other form you have the burglar, the Jew, the Czar, the socialist, and, above all, the total irremediable, radical rottenness of our whole social, industrial, financial and political system."
John Quincy Adams
Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (1835–1915) fought with the Union in the Civil War, receiving in 1865 the brevet of brigadier general in the regular army. He became an authority on railway management as the author of Railroads, Their Origin and Problems (1878), and as president of the Union Pacific Railroad from 1884 to 1890.
Brooks Adams (1848–1927) practiced law and became a writer. His books include The Law of Civilization and Decay (1895), America's Economic Supremacy (1900), and The New Empire (1902).
* v * t * e
Adams family tree
William Stephens Smith
Abigail Amelia Adams Smith
John Quincy Adams
Frances Cadwalader Crowninshield
John Quincy Adams
George Casper Adams (1863–1900) Charles Francis Adams III (1866–1954) Frances Adams (née Lovering) (1869–1956)
WRITINGS BY ADAMS
* 1876. Essays in Anglo-Saxon Law (with
Henry Cabot Lodge
Chambers Biographical Dictionary , ISBN 0-550-18022-2 , p. 6
* ^ Henry Adams,
The Education of Henry Adams (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1961), chapters 7–15, and Contosta, ch. 2.
* ^ The Education of Henry Adams, p. 101.
* ^ Gamble, Cynthia 2008, John Ruskin, Henry James and the
* Adams, James Truslow (1933). Henry Adams. New York: Albert &
Charles Boni, Inc.
* Adams, Marian Hooper (1936). The Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams,
1865–1883. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. (Edited by W. Thoron).
* Baym, Max Isaac (1951). The French Education of Henry Adams.
Columbia University Press.
* Boyd, Kelly, ed. Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writers
(Rutledge, 1999) 1:2–4
* Brookhiser, Richard (2002). America's First Dynasty: The Adamses,
1735–1918. New York: Free Press.
* Cater, H.D., ed., (1947).
Henry Adams and His Friends: A
Collection of His Unpublished Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
* Chalfant, Edward (1982). Both Sides of the Ocean: A biography of
Henry Adams, His First Life, 1838–1862. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon
Books ISBN 0208019014
* Chalfant, Edward (1994). Better in Darkness: A Biography of Henry
Adams, His Second Life, 1862–1891. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books
* Chalfant, Edward (2001). Improvement of the World: A Biography of
Henry Adams, His Third Life, 1891–1918. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon
Books ISBN 0208022325 .
* Decker, William Merrill (1990). The Literary Vocation of Henry
Adams. University of North Carolina Press.
* Donovan, Timothy Paul (1961).
Henry Adams and Brooks Adams: The
Education of Two American Historians. University of Oklahoma Press.
* Dusinberre, William (1980). Henry Adams: The Myth of Failure.
Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
* Harbert, Earl N. (1977). The Force So Much Closer Home: Henry
Adams and the Adams Family. New York University Press.
* Hochfield, George (1962). Henry Adams: An Introduction and
Interpretation. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
* Hume, Robert A. (1951). Runaway Star: An Appreciation of Henry
Adams. Cornell University Press.
* Jacobson, Joanne (1992). Authority and Alliance in the Letters of
Henry Adams. University of Wisconsin Press.
* Jordy, William H. (1952). Henry Adams: Scientific Historian. New
Haven: Yale University Press. OCLC 427157
* Kaplan, Harold (1981). Power and Order:
Henry Adams and the
Naturalist Tradition in American Fiction. University of Chicago Press.
* Le Clair, Robert Charles (1978). Three American Travellers in
England: James Russell Lowell, Henry Adams, Henry James. Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood Press.
* Levenson, J.C. (1957). The Mind and Art of Henry Adams. Boston:
* Lyon, Melvin (1970). Symbol and Idea in Henry Adams. University of
* O'Toole, Patricia (1990). The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait
Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880–1918. New York: Clarkson. N.
* Rowe, John Carlos, ed., (1996). New Essays on the Education of
Henry Adams. Cambridge University Press.
* Samuels, Ernest (1948). The Young Henry Adams. Cambridge: The
Belknap Press of
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