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Private Letters and Public Diplomacy: The Adams Network and the Quasi-War, 1797-1798

Private Letters and Public Diplomacy: The Adams Network and the Quasi-War, 1797-1798 Abstract: Drawing primarily on the unpublished Adams Family Papers, this essay reconstructs the correspondence-based political and diplomatic information networks that John Adams employed in 1797 and 1798. It show that Adams had two networks, an official one built around the cabinet and an unofficial one dominated by family members and friends, which had distinct approaches to gathering information and different assumptions about how to interpret it. The members of the private network collectively created shared standards for determining what constituted reliable information and sound political principles. Though Adams employed both networks, he had greater confidence in the private one. In early 1797, when Adams had to decide how to respond to the French government's rejection of U.S. emissary Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, it was the private network that persuaded him to send a new mission to France. Adams then sought to create a new mission that was composed of individuals who were part of the private network or closely connected to it. In both cases, however, Adams incorporated advice from the official network as well. The essay reinterprets Adams's diplomacy, showing that it was more consistent and less shaped by his cabinet's advice than has been thought. It also illustrates how political decision-making in the early republic drew on multiple interacting correspondence networks, suggesting the need for further study of the epistolary habits of political leaders. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Private Letters and Public Diplomacy: The Adams Network and the Quasi-War, 1797-1798

Journal of the Early Republic , Volume 31 (2) – Apr 21, 2011

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Pennsylvania Press
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: Drawing primarily on the unpublished Adams Family Papers, this essay reconstructs the correspondence-based political and diplomatic information networks that John Adams employed in 1797 and 1798. It show that Adams had two networks, an official one built around the cabinet and an unofficial one dominated by family members and friends, which had distinct approaches to gathering information and different assumptions about how to interpret it. The members of the private network collectively created shared standards for determining what constituted reliable information and sound political principles. Though Adams employed both networks, he had greater confidence in the private one. In early 1797, when Adams had to decide how to respond to the French government's rejection of U.S. emissary Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, it was the private network that persuaded him to send a new mission to France. Adams then sought to create a new mission that was composed of individuals who were part of the private network or closely connected to it. In both cases, however, Adams incorporated advice from the official network as well. The essay reinterprets Adams's diplomacy, showing that it was more consistent and less shaped by his cabinet's advice than has been thought. It also illustrates how political decision-making in the early republic drew on multiple interacting correspondence networks, suggesting the need for further study of the epistolary habits of political leaders.

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Apr 21, 2011

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