Sunday, December 27, 2009

John Quincy Adams in the News!

From a recent Slate article, Saying No to Obama:
Praising and admiring Obama are still common, but raising doubts about him, even scoffing at him, is now becoming fashionable. Although he is still popular among Europeans and more popular with Muslims than his despised predecessor, Obama is being tagged with the unflattering label John Quincy Adams earned before he lost the 1828 election: "Adams can write, Jackson can fight."

The only problem is, the comparison is unfair to Adams. Quinzy may not have been a military man but he was one tough S.O.B. when it came to defending American interests and values. He was an aggressive negotiator who obtained significant concessions from America's adversaries (e.g., the Treaty of Ghent and the Adams-Onis Treaty). He was the author of the Monroe Doctrine. He was the only member of James Madison's cabinet who initially defended Andrew Jackson's aggressive and possibly unauthorized 1818 incursion into Spanish Florida and his execution of two British nationals there. And later in his career he was a relentless foe of the Slave Power and its Gag Rule.

Adams's willingness to stand up to America's adversaries and refusal to kowtow to foreign powers makes him look a lot more like George W. Bush - and nothing like Obama.

About the illustration:
A satire on enforcement of the "gag-rule" in the House of Representatives, prohibiting discussion of the question of slavery. Growing antislavery sentiment in the North coincided with increased resentment by southern congressmen of such discussion as meddlesome and insulting to their constituencies. The print may relate to John Quincy Adams's opposition to passage of the resolution in 1838, or (more likely) to his continued frustration in attempting to force the slavery issue through presentation of northern constituents' petitions in 1839. In December 1839 a new "gag rule" was passed by the House forbidding debate, reading, printing of, or even reference to any petition on the subject of abolition. Here Adams cowers prostrate on a pile composed of petitions, a copy of the abolitionist newspaper the "Emancipator," and a resolution to recognize Haiti. He says "I cannot stand Thomson's [sic] frown." South Carolina representative Waddy Thompson, Jr., a Whig defender of slavery, glowers at him from behind a sack and two casks, saying "Sir the South loses caste whenever she suffers this subject to be discussed here; it must be indignantly frowned down." Two blacks crouch behind Thompson, one saying "de dem Bobolishn is down flat!" Weitenkampf cites an impression with an imprint naming Robinson as printer and publisher, this line being apparently trimmed from the Library's impression. The drawing style and handling of the figures strongly suggest that "Abolition Frowned Down" is by the same Robinson artist as the anonymous "Called to Account" and "Symptoms of a Duel" (nos. 1839-10 and -11).

H/T Instapundit.

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