John Adams/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about John Adams.
Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner. For formatting, consider using automated reference wikification.
  • Adams, John Thoughts on Government (1776). John Adam's exposition of the perfect government.
  • Brown, Ralph A. The Presidency of John Adams. (1988). Political narrative.
  • Chinard, Gilbert. Honest John Adams. (1933). short life
  • Diggins, John Patrick. John Adams (2003) short interpretation by leading scholar excerpt and text search
  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism. (1993), most advanced political history of 1790s online edition
  • Ellis, Joseph J. Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993), interpretative essay by Pulitzer prize winning scholar. online edition
  • Ferling, John. Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800. (2004), narrative history of the election online edition
  • Ferling, John. John Adams: A Life. (1992), full scale biography
  • Grant, James. John Adams: Party of One.(2005), short biography
  • Haraszti, Zoltan. John Adams and the Prophets of Progress. (1952). Adams's political comments on numerous authors
  • Kirk, Russell. "John Adams and Liberty under the Law" ch 3 of Kirk, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana (1953) online edition
  • Knollenberg, Bernard. Growth of the American Revolution: 1766-1775,(2003). Online edition.
  • Kurtz, Stephen G. The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795-1800 (1957). Detailed political narrative. online edition
  • McCullough, David. John Adams. (2002). Best-selling popular biography, stressing Adams's character and his marriage with Abigail over his ideas and constitutional thoughts. Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. excerpt and text search
  • Miller, John C. The Federalist Era: 1789-1801. (1960). Thorough survey of politics in decade.
  • Ryerson, Richard Alan, ed. John Adams and the Founding of the Republic (2001). Essays by scholars: "John Adams and the Massachusetts Provincial Elite," by William Pencak; "Before Fame: Young John Adams and Thomas Jefferson," by John Ferling; "John Adams and the 'Bolder Plan,'" by Gregg L. Lint; "In the Shadow of Washington: John Adams as Vice President," by Jack D. Warren; "The Presidential Election of 1796," by Joanne B. Freeman; "The Disenchantment of a Radical Whig: John Adams Reckons with Free Speech," by Richard D. Brown; "'Splendid Misery': Abigail Adams as First Lady," by Edith B. Gelles; "John Adams and the Science of Politics," by C. Bradley Thompson; and "Presidents as Historians: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson," by Herbert Sloan.
  • Scherr, Arthur. "James Monroe and John Adams: An Unlikely 'Friendship'". The Historian 67#3 (2005) pp 405+. online edition
  • Sharp, James. American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis. (1995), detailed political narrative of 1790s.
  • Smith, Page. John Adams. (1962) 2 volume; full-scale biography, winner of the Bancroft Prize
  • Thompson, C. Bradley. John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty. (1998). Analysis of Adams's political thought; insists Adams was the greatest political thinker among the Founding Generation and anticipated many of the ideas in The Federalist.
  • White, Leonard D. The Federalists: A Study in Administrative History (1956), thorough analysis of the mechanics of government in 1790s
  • White, Morton. "Rights, Powers, and John Adams" in White, The Philosophy of the American Revolution (1978) pp 186+ online edition
  • Wood, Gordon S. Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different’’ (2006)


Primary sources

  • Adams, Charles F. The Works of John Adams, with Life (10 vols., Boston, 1850-1856) online edition vol 1; online edition vol 2;
  • Adams, Abigail, Adams, John, Shuffelton, Frank. The Letters of John and Abigail Adams. ISBN 0142437115
  • Butterfield, L. H. et al., eds., The Adams Papers (1961- ). Multivolume letterpress edition of all letters to and from major members of the Adams family, plus their diaries; still incomplete [1].
  • Cappon, Lester J. ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams (1988).
  • Carey, George W. ed. The Political Writings of John Adams. (2000). 748 pp. ISBN 9780895262929 Compilation of extracts from Adams's major political writings.
  • Diggins, John P., ed. The Portable John Adams. (2004)
  • John A. Schutz and Douglass Adair, eds. Spur of Fame, The Dialogues of John Adams and Benjamin Rush, 1805–1813 (1966) ISBN 978-0-86597-287-2
  • C. Bradley Thompson, ed. Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, (2001) ISBN 978-0-86597-285-8
  • John Adams, Novanglus; or, A History of the Dispute with America (1774) online version
  • Abigail Adams and John Adams. My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams edited by Joseph J. Ellis, and Margaret A. Hogan (2007)