Miller Center

Bibliography — John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Historical Context Papers / Memoirs Biographies
Administration Major Issues Elections
Contemporaries Recent Publications Bibliographies

John Adams

Historical Context

Wood, Gordon. Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1969.

A “classic” account of political thought from the Revolution and the Confederation periods.

Elkins, Stanley and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

A substantial account of the first years of the United States.

Miller, John C. The Federalist Era, 1789-1801. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960.

Older and briefer then Elkins and McKitrick above.

Sharp, James Roger. American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1993.

White, Leonard D. The Federalists: A Study in Administrative History. New York: Macmillan Company, 1948.

First volume in White's trilogy on the administrative history of the Federalist, Jeffersonian, and Jacksonian periods.

Adams Papers and Memoirs

Taylor, Robert J., et. al., eds. Papers of John Adams. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1977-.

The authoritative collection of Adams Papers. Publication is ongoing. To date, 11 volumes have been published.

Butterfield, L. H., et. al., eds. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. 4 vols. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1961.

The authoritative edition of Adams's diary and autobiography.

Adams, Charles Francis, ed. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States. 10 vols. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1850-1856.

As editor, Charles Francis Adams (John Adams's grandson) introduces inevitable bias to this collection; however, his edition remains the best published source for Adams papers still unpublished by the Harvard Press project above.

Butterfield, Lyman H., et. al., eds. The Adams Family Correspondence. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1963-.

The authoritative edition of the Adams family's correspondence. Includes correspondence from John, Abigail, and John Quincy.

Cappon, Lester J., ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams. 2 vols. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959.

Useful until the Harvard Press edition is completed.

For a fuller discussion of Adams primary sources, see Adams's Public and Private Papers.

Adams Biographies

Smith, Page. John Adams. 2 vols. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1962.

The definitive Adams biography, with the caveat that Ferling below had greater access to the Adams Family Papers.

Ferling, John. John Adams: A Life. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992.

A more recent, very readable one-volume study of Adams.

Diggins, John Patrick. John Adams. New York: Times Books, 2003.

From the American Presidents Series, a project dedicated to producing brief biographical treatments of each U.S. President. The volumes are typically less than 200 pages. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. serves as Series Editor.

Brown, Ralph. The Presidency of John Adams. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1975.

From the American Presidency Series, a series dedicated to providing a consistent, scholarly treatment of each president. Coverage is limited to the years in office.

Adams Administration and Advisors (1797-1801)

For cabinet members not listed below, please see: Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet. 3 vols. Santa Barbara, Cali.: ABC-CLIO, 2000.

Abigail Adams (First Lady)

Withey, Lynne. Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams. New York: Free Press, 1981.

Levin, Phyllis Lee. Abigail Adams: A Biography. New York: St. Martin's, 1987.

Gould, Lewis L., ed. American First Ladies: Their Lives and their Legacy. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Contains essays on each First Lady from Martha Washington through Laura Bush.

See the Adams Family Correspondence and The Adams-Jefferson Letters under Adams Primary Sources for Abagail's letters.

John Quincy Adams (Minister to Germany)

Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949.

A “classic” biography of Adams.

Parsons, Lynn Hudson. John Quincy Adams. Madison: Madison House, 1998.

Considered by many to be the best recent biography of Adams.

Adams, Charles Francis, ed. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Comprising Portions of His Diary from 1795 to 1848. 12 vols. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1874-1877.

The best published version of Adams's Diary. Charles Francis Adams (John Quincy's son) chose to omit significant portions of the diary during his editing process.

Ford, Worthington C., ed. Writings of John Quincy Adams. 7 vols. New York: Macmillan Company, 1913-1917.

A selective collection of Adams's papers, but Ford remains the best published source for Adams papers.

For a fuller discussion of Adams primary sources, see Adams's Public and Private Papers.

See Adams's online bibliography for more information on Adams and his Presidency.

Elbridge Gerry (Special Envoy to France)

Billias, George A. Elbridge Gerry, Founding Father and Republican Statesman. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.

Gerry, Elbridge. Letterbook, Paris, 1797-1798. Salem, Mass: Essex Institute Press, 1966.

Thomas Jefferson (Vice-President)

Malone, Dumas. Jefferson and His Time. 6 vols. Boston: Little, Brown, 1948-1981.

The monumental biography of Jefferson.

Peterson, Merrill. Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Considered by many to be the best one-volume treatment of Jefferson. Like Malone above, a favorable portrait of Jefferson.

Ellis, Joseph. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Knopf, 1996.

A more recent look at Jefferson that addresses the controversies that have surrounded his legacy in recent years.

Boyd, Julian, et. al., eds. Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-.

The authoritative collection of Jefferson Papers. Publication is ongoing. To date, 30 volumes have been published.

For a fuller discussion of Jefferson primary sources, see Jefferson's Public and Private Papers.

See Jefferson's online bibliography for more information on Jefferson and his Presidency.

Rufus King (Minister to England)

King, Charles R., ed. The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King: Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents, and His Speeches. 6 vols. New York: G. P. Putman's Sons, 1894-1900.

Ernst, Robert. Rufus King: American Federalist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968.

John Marshall (Secretary of State; Chief Justice)

Smith, Jean Edward. John Marshall: Definer of a Nation. New York: H. Holt and Co., 1996.

Beveridge, Albert J. The Life of John Marshall. 4 vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916-1919.

A “classic,” laudatory biography of Marshall.

Johnson, Herbert A., et. al., eds. The Papers of John Marshall. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1974-.

The authoritative collection of Marshall papers. Publication is ongoing. To date, 10 volumes have been published.

James McHenry (Secretary of War)

Steiner, Bernard. The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry: Secretary of War under Washington and Adams. Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers Company, 1907.

William Vans Murray (Minister to the Netherlands)

Hill, Peter P. William Vans Murray, Federalist Diplomat: The Shaping of Peace with France, 1797-1801. Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1971.

Ford, Worthington C., ed. “Letters of William Vans Murray to John Quincy Adams, 1797-1803.” In The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1912. 341-715. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1914.

Thomas Pickering (Secretary of State)

Clarfield, Gerard H. Timothy Pickering and the American Republic. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980.

A general biography of Pickering.

Clarfield, Gerard H. Timothy Pickering and American Diplomacy, 1795-1800. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1969.

Deals specifically with Pickering's term as Secretary of State.

Pickering, Octavius, and Charles Wentworth Upham, eds. The Life of Timothy Pickering. 4 vols. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1867-1873.

The most complete published source for Pickering correspondence. A collection of Pickering papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society is available of microfilm.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (Special Envoy to France)

Zahniser, Marvin R. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Founding Father. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967.

Benjamin Stoddert (Secretary of the Navy)

See Stoddert's War: Naval Operations During the Quasi-War with France, 1798-1801 under Major Issues in the Adams Administration

Oliver Wolcott (Secretary of Treasury)

Gibbs, George ed. Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John Adams, Edited from the Papers of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury. 2 vols. New York: Privately Printed for the Subscribers, 1846.

Gibbs's editorial comments accompany the letters of Oliver Wolcott. Stridently Arch-Federalist.

Major Issues in the Adams Administration

Foreign Relations (General)

Perkins, Bradford. The Creation of a Republican Empire, 1776-1865. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Volume 1 of The Cambridge History of Foreign Relations. A general survey of early U.S. foreign relations.

France, The Quasi-War, XYZ Affair

Bowman, Albert. The Struggle for Neutrality: Franco-American Diplomacy during the Federalist Era. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1974.

De Conde, Alexander. The Quasi-War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France 1797-1801. New York: Scribner's, 1966.

The standard work on the Quasi-War.

Palmer, Michael A. Stoddert's War: Naval Operations During the Quasi-War with France, 1798-1801. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.

An account of naval operations during the Quasi-War with an emphasis on Stoddert's role.

U.S. Office of Naval Records and Library, ed. Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France: Naval Operations. February 1797-December 1801. 7 vols. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1935-1938.

Stinchcombe, William C. The XYZ Affair. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981.

A brief but excellent volume that used the then recently published Papers of John Marshall.

See Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Elbridge Gerry, John Marshal, and William Vans Murray under Administration and Advisors for works on the these four U.S. diplomats involved in the XYZ Affair.

Great Britain

Perkins, Bradford. The First Rapprochement: England and the United States, 1795-1805. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1955.

The first book in a trilogy on Anglo-American relations in the early Republic.

Stuart, Reginald C. United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775-1871. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

Spends significant time on the period between 1783-1815.

Burt, Alfred L. The United States, Great Britain, and British North American from the Revolution to the Establishment of Peace after the War of 1812. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940.

“Classic” text on Anglo-American relations as they relate to British North America.

Spanish Florida

Weber, David J. The Spanish Frontier in North America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.

A sweeping overview of Spain's American empire.

Russia

Saul, Norman E. Distant Friends: The United States and Russia, 1763-1867. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

An overview of Russian-American relations in the early Republic.

Barbary Powers

Kitzen, Michael L. S. Tripoli and the United States at War: A History of American Relations with the Barbary States, 1785-1805. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co., 1993.

Irwin, Ray W. The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers, 1776-1816. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1931.

A classic account of U. S. relations with the Barbary states; reprinted by Russell and Russell in 1970.

U.S. Office of Naval Records and Library, ed. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. 6 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1939-1944.

Caribbean

Langley, Lester D. Struggle for the American Mediterranean: United States-European Rivalry in the Gulf-Caribbean, 1776-1904. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1976.

Logan, Rayford W. The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti, 1776-1891. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1941.

Still remains the standard book-length work on the Haitian Revolution.

“Letters of Toussaint Louverture and of Edward Stevens, 1798-1800.” American Historical Review 16 (October 1910): 64-101.

Correspondence between Stevens (Adams's representative in Haiti) and the leader of the Haitian Revolution.

Military

Jacobs, James Ripley. The Beginning of the U.S. Army, 1783-1812. Princeton: Princeton University Press: 1947.

Kohn, Richard H. Eagle and Sword: The Federalists and the Creation of the Military Establishment in America, 1783-1802. New York: Free Press, 1975.

Smelser, Marshall. The Congress Founds the Navy, 1787-1798. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1959.

Symonds, Craig L. Navalists and Antinavalists: The Naval Policy Debate in the United States, 1785-1827. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1980.

Economics (general)

Nettels, Curtis. The Emergence of a National Economy, 1775-1815. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962.

A classic survey. Volume two of the Economic History of the United States series.

Wright, Robert E. Hamilton Unbound: Finance and the Creation of the American Republic. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Slavery

Berlin, Ira. Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.

An excellent overview of the institution of American Slavery.

Indian Affairs

Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

General survey of United States Indian policy from one of the leading scholars on the subject.

Prucha, Francis Paul. American Indian Policy in the Formative Years: The Indian Trade and Intercourse Acts, 1790-1834. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962.

Examines the Trade and Intercourse Acts originally established by Washington and Henry Knox that ultimately were never enforced.

Prucha, Francis Paul. American Indian Treaties: The History of a Political Anomaly. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Dowd, Gregory Evans. A Spirited Resistance: The North American Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Focuses on the attempt to develop pan-Indian unity, with an emphasis on the religious elements in the movement.

Alien and Sedition Laws

Smith, James Morton. Freedom's Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956.

Frontier

Rohrbough, Malcolm J. The Trans-Appalachian Frontier: People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

An overview of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier.

Judicial Issues and Appointments

See John Marshall under Administration and Advisors.

Annis, David Leslie. Mr. Bushrod Washington, Supreme Court Justice on the Marshall Court. Ph.D. diss., University of Notre Dame, 1974.

Hall, Timothy L. Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Facts on File, 2001.

Abraham, Henry J. Justices, Presidents, and Senators: A History of the U.S. Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Clinton. Rev. ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Hall and Abraham cover Adams's appointments of Bushrod Washington and Alfred Moore to the Supreme Court.

Political Parties

Chambers, William Nisbet. Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776-1809. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.

A brief overview of the emergence of the two-party system.

Hofstadter, Richard. The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

Dauer, Manning. The Adams Federalists. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1953.

Banning, Lance. The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978.

Cunningham, Noble E. Jr. The Jeffersonian Republicans: The Formation of Party Organization, 1789-1801. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957.

A “classic” work on the Jeffersonian Republicans.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr., ed. History of U.S. Political Parties. 5 vols. New York: Chelsea House, 2002.

Brief essays on Political Parties from the Federalists to the 1992-2001 Reform party.

Elections

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr., ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-1968. 4 vols. New York: Chelsea House, 1971.

Includes brief essays, statistics and relevant documents on each presidential election from 1789 to 1968.

Contemporaries

Fisher Ames (Federalist; Congressman)

Bernhard, Winfred E. A. Fisher Ames, Federalist and Statesman, 1758-1808. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1965.

Ames, Seth, ed. Works of Fisher Ames. 2 vols. 1854. Reprint, New York: Burt Franklin, 1971.

James A. Bayard (Federalist; Congressman)

Borden, Morton. The Federalism of James A. Bayard. New York: Columbia University Press, 1955.

Donnan, Elizabeth, ed. Papers of James A. Bayard, 1796-1815. 1915. Reprint, Da Capo Press, 1971.

William Blount (Former Territorial Governor of Tennessee; Senator)

Masterson, William H. William Blount. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1954.

The only full-length biography of Blount.

Melton, Buckner F., Jr. The First Impeachment: The Constitution's Framers and the Case of Senator William Blount. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998.

Joseph Brant (Iroquois leader)

Kelsay, Isabel Thompson. Joseph Brant, 1743-1807, Man of Two Worlds. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1984.

Aaron Burr (Senator)

Lomask, Milton. Aaron Burr. 2 vols. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979-1982.

Volume one covers Burr's life through 1805.

Kline, Mary-Jo, et. al., eds. Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.

George Clinton (Governor of New York)

Kaminski, John P. George Clinton: Yeoman Politician of the New Republic. Madison: Madison House, 1993.

The best available biography of Clinton.

Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777-1795, 1801-1804. 1899-1914. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1973.

Albert Gallatin (Republican; Congressman)

Walters, Ray. Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat. New York: Macmillan, 1957.

Adams, Henry, ed. The Writings of Albert Gallatin. 3 vols. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1879.

Remains the best published source for Gallatin's papers. A modern microfilm edition also exists.

Alexander Hamilton (Federalist Leader)

Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin Press, 2004.

The most recent and possibly the best Hamilton biography.

Mitchell, Broadus. Alexander Hamilton. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1957-1962.

Long considered the standard Hamilton biography.

McDonald, Forrest. Alexander Hamilton: A Biography. New York: Norton, 1979.

McDonald's work has received mixed reviews; however, it is consistently praised for its discussion of Hamilton's economic theories.

Knott, Stephen. Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002.

Traces the evolution of Hamilton's controversial image in the American mind, and argues for a reconsideration of his contribution to the nation's founding.

Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-1987.

The authoritative collection of Hamilton Papers.

Benjamin Hawkins (Indian Agent)

Pound, Merritt B. Benjamin Hawkins: Indian Agent. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1951.

Henri, Florette. The Southern Indians and Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1816. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.

Grant, C. L., ed. Letters, Journals and Writings of Benjamin Hawkins. 2 vols. Savannah: Beehive Press, 1980.

James Madison (Congressman)

Brant, Irving. James Madison. 6 vols. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1941-1961.

The monumental multi-volume biography of Madison.

Ketcham, Ralph L. James Madison: A Biography. New York: Macmillan, 1971.

Considered by many to be the best one-volume biography of Madison.

Hutchinson, William T., et. al., eds. The Papers of James Madison. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1962-.

The authoritative collection of Madison papers. Publication is ongoing. To date, 27 volumes have been published.

For a fuller discussion of Madison primary sources, see Madison's Public and Private Papers.

See Madison's online bibliography for more information on Madison and his Presidency.

James Monroe (Governor of Virginia)

Ammon, Harry. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.

The definitive Monroe biography.

Hamilton, Stanislaus Murray, ed. The Writings of James Monroe. 7 vols. New York: G. P. Putman's Sons, 1898-1903.

Currently the best published source for Monroe papers.

Brown, Stuart G., and Donald G. Baker, eds. The Autobiography of James Monroe. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1959.

For a fuller discussion of Monroe primary sources, see Monroe's Public and Private Papers.

See Monroe's online bibliography for more information on Monroe and his Presidency.

Harrison Gray Otis (Federalist; Congressman)

Morison, Samuel Eliot. Harrison Gray Otis, 1765-1848: The Urbane Federalist. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1969.

Red Jacket (Iroquois leader)

Densmore, Christopher. Red Jacket: Iroquois Diplomat and Orator. Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1999.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (French Foreign Minister)

Dwyer, Philip G. Talleyrand. London: Longman, 2002.

George Washington (Former President)

Freeman, Douglas. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1948-1957.

The definitive Washington biography. A one-volume condensation, edited by Richard Harwell and titled Washington, was published in 1968.

Cunliffe, Marcus. George Washington: Man and Monument. Boston: Little, Brown. 1958.

Considered one of the better single volume biographies of Washington.

Burns, James MacGregor. George Washington. New York: Times Books, 2004.

From the American Presidents Series, a project dedicated to producing brief biographical treatments of each U.S. President. The volumes are typically less than 200 pages. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. serves as Series Editor.

McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of George Washington. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1974.

From the American Presidency Series, a series dedicated to providing a consistent, scholarly treatment of each president. Coverage is limited to the years in office.

Abbot, W. W. et. al., eds. The Papers of George Washington. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983-.

The authoritative collection of Washington Papers. Publication is ongoing. To date, 44 volumes have been published.

Jackson, Donald and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976-1979.

The authoritative edition of Washington's diaries.

See Washington's online bibliography for more information on Washington and his Presidency.

Recent Publications

McCullough, David. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Ryerson, Richard Alan, ed. John Adams and the Founding of the Republic. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2001.

Brookhiser, Richard. America's First Dynasty: The Adamses, 1735-1918. New York: Free Press, 2002.

Bibliographies

Ferling, John E., ed. John Adams: A Bibliography. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1994.