THE ADAMS CANTOS
The tragedy of the U.S.A. over 160 years is the decline of Adamses. More and more we cd., if we examined events, see that John Adams had the corrective for Jefferson.
Ezra Pound. Guide to Kulchur 254
Comes now 1938 and I point out to one of our most brilliant American publishers that you can get Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, all of them exotics, for 10 cents or a quarter a volume, and that no American can buy the best of J. Adams, Jefferson, and Van Buren at any price; or maybe he can dig up an uncirculated publication of the Historical Association at three dollars. All of these guys were 100% U.S.A.-ers.
“But,” says the publisher, “Nobody would be interested in what they said. Now if you were to write out exactly the same words as your own, I think we could sell it.”
In Europe you couldn’t. Some bloke like Francis Picabia, or some librarian like Manlio Dazzi would call it. The former would say something bright and snappy about: Who discovered the moon. And the latter would with chapter and verse observe that Marco Polo, or Bacon, or as the case were, Mr. Adams, had on the 3rd of January, 1803, written to Mr. Whoosis a letter containing on page three, lines 9 to 14, the remarks used by .....
Ezra Pound “Responsibility? Shucks!” Globe, Feb-March 1938, in P&P VII: 304.
The writings of John Adams, done in a variety of circumstances for a number of different reasons, reveal that he seldom missed an opportunity to record his observations or those of people with whom he associated. He kept a diary; he kept notes of the debates of the Continental Congress. For newspapers he wrote controversial papers on behalf of the cause of independence, signing his name now as “Novanglus,” now as “Clarendon.” In correspondence he was a tireless explainer, here and abroad, of the patriot cause and of the concept of government which he believed gave the best hope for a stable public order. The latter concern led him finally to write his major work, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, his answer, in three volumes, to an attack by Turgot (who preferred a simple central authority) upon the idea of a distribution of governmental power through a system of checks and balances, which idea Adams had labored so hard to see incorporated in the new state constitutions. He wrote an account of his European diplomatic missions; he wrote an autobiography. All these writings come together to tell one story: the commitment of John Adams to the survival and success of the new nation he had helped create.
Frederick K. Sanders. John Adams Speaking 42.
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