Heirs of an Honored Name: The Decline of the Adams Family and the Rise of Modern America
with Douglas R. Egerton
John and Abigail Adams founded a famous political family, but they would not witness its calamitous fall from grace. When John Quincy Adams died in 1848, so began the slow decline of the family’s political legacy. In Heirs of an Honored Name, award-winning historian Douglas R. Egerton depicts a family grown famous, wealthy, but also aimless. After the Civil War, Republicans looked to the Adamses to steer their party back to its radical 1850s roots. Instead, Charles Francis Sr. and his children-Charles Francis Jr., John Quincy II, Henry and Clover Adams, and Louisa Adams Kuhn-largely quit the political arena and found refuge in an imagined past of aristocratic preeminence. An absorbing story of brilliant siblings and family strain, Heirs of an Honored Name shows how the burden of impossible expectations shaped the Adamses and, through them, American history.
Douglas R. Egerton is the Professor of History at LeMoyne College and graduated with an MA and Ph.D from Georgetown University in 1985. He has also held visiting appointments at Colgate University, Cornell University, and the University College of Dublin. He is the author of eight books, including the Lincoln Prize co-winner, Thunder At the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America (2016). His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, and the Boston Globe. Egerton has also appeared on several PBS series including The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013). He lives near Syracuse, New York, with his wife, historian Leigh Fought.