America in Class Lessons

Citizen Leadership in the Young Republic

Author: Wason, Marianne (NHC Assistant Director of Education Programs, Online Resources, 1997–2014)

Advisor: Casper, Scott E. (NHC Fellow, 2005–06)

In this study of the letters of John Adams and John Quincy Adams from 1774 to 1793, two central themes are highlighted — how Adams unfolded his “curriculum” for citizen leadership, and how his point of view changed from parent-teacher to mentor-guide as John Quincy entered the realm of American political life. To Adams, a citizen leader of the United States needed to exhibit upstanding moral character and self-discipline, acquire a solid foundation in classical learning, develop keen insight into the political dynamics of a democracy, and accept the challenges and sacrifices of public life. As his son grew from a child into a young man, John Adams fostered these qualities through the long-distance medium of letters.

Read More

Subjects: Political Science; History; Education Studies; American History; Democracy; Citizenship; Leadership; Correspondence; Families; Primary Sources