Discourses on Davila. A Series of Papers


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Item#: 123260 price:$8,800.00

Discourses on Davila. A Series of Papers
Discourses on Davila. A Series of Papers


[ADAMS, John]. Discourses on Davila. A Series of Papers, on Political History, written in the year 1790, and then published in the Gazette of the United States. Boston: Russell and Cutler, 1805. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter sheep, marbled boards; pp. (1-10), 11-248. $8800.

First edition in book form of Adams' controversial essays on the dangers of unbridled democracy, a key work of the Federalist period and central to ongoing disputes between Jefferson and Adams.

John Adams' highly contested Discourses on Davila was prompted by Jefferson's firm declaration of "his faith in reason and democracy… as the sufficiency of human reason for the care of human affairs." Alarmed by the fresh violence of the French Revolution, Adams disagreed, feeling "the 'sufficiency' of reason alone for the care of human affairs was by no means clear… The will of the majority, if out of hand, could lead to 'horrible ravages,' he was sure. 'My fundamental maxim of government is never to trust the lamb to the wolf… More than he had in his Defence of the Constitutions [1787-1788], Adams stressed the perils of unbridled, unbalanced democracy" (McCullough 420-421). Clearly voicing a "belief that a strong stabilizing force—a strong executive, a hereditary senate, or a natural aristocracy—was an essential bulwark of popular liberties," Discourses on Davila helped fuel a divide that ultimately led anti-Federalists to mount "an intense but unsuccessful campaign" against Adams (Hatfield, 3-11). This volume contains the first publication in book form of his articles printed in the Gazette of the United States (1790), largely a distillation of Davila's 17th-century account of the French civil wars. Though published anonymously, Adams was commonly known to be the author. Shaw & Shoemaker 7831. Sabin 239. Contemporary owner ink signature of U.S. Congressman from New York Samuel M. Hopkins (1772-1837). Hopkins was elected as a Federalist to the Thirteenth Congress (1813-15); and served as a member of the New York State Assembly 1820-21 and the New York State Senate in 1822.

Occasional foxing, toning, and dampstaining, not affecting legibility; pages 33-58 with expert cleaning. Expert repairs to corners, boards, and joints; contemporary binding sound. A very good copy.

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