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Adams-Jefferson Letters

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  680 ratings  ·  24 reviews
An intellectual dialogue of the highest plane achieved in America, the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson spanned half a century and embraced government, philosophy, religion, quotidiana, and family griefs and joys. First meeting as delegates to the Continental Congress in 1775, they initiated correspondence in 1777, negotiated jointly as ministers in E ...more
Paperback, 690 pages
Published September 30th 1988 by University of North Carolina Press (first published 1959)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,028)
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Michael Austin
There are only a few people in the world today who have both patience and the inclination to read 600 pages worth of 200-year-old letters. If you are one of these people, do yourself a favor and read this book now. If you are not one of these people, try really really hard to become one of these people and read this book now. And if you can't possibly imagine ever being the kind of person who reads this kind of book, then do the rest of us a favor and don't go all over the Internet popping off a ...more
Carrie
When I started this book, I assumed I would slog through it, and learn some useful things, and get some enjoyment out of reading these Founding Fathers' own words instead of those of historians. I did not expect it would return to my bookshelf as one of the most beloved books there.

The letters delve deep into the expected — the inner workings of a young democracy, the establishment of a fledgling economic power on the world scene. And yes, there are points of mundane bureaucracy, passages about
...more
Rick
Jun 22, 2012 Rick is currently reading it
I was motivated to buy this by the John Adams miniseries. The letters that were read in the final episode were very moving. I imagined I would have to hunt around in the volume for letters as good as the ones read in the series. That was mostly wrong. Not every letter is as good as the best letters, but most are quite readable. And many could have been as entertaining as the ones read in the series. (I loved where the former presidents compared notes on the cranks who came in to deliver their ap ...more
Maggie
One of many books I've stolen from my dad's bookshelf. I ADORE Jefferson and Adams' letters to one another (although the Adams' letters to each other are wonderful to read also). The parallel of Jefferson and Adams' stories, their correspondence repairing their relationship at the end of their lives, the synchronicity of their deaths... pretty amazing stuff. (Such a dork.)
Paul
Sigh, when will we again grace with Statesmen like Adams and Jefferson.
Bart Breen
Not a book about History, this IS History

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and to be able to share in the thoughts and happenings of important places and people? Well, if your desires in that regard include the office of the Presidency of the United States and the early days following the American Revolution, that is exactly what this book provides.

As was typical of statesmen of that day, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams maintained a lengthy personal and professional correspondance the
...more
Schwarzenberger
An collection of letters written between friends who both had what we now call a "classical education". They learned and used rhetoric to an astonishing degree to explain and reiterate to each other things important to the establishment of a new government and a new way of giving all the people a say in it--bear in mind they did not outright subscribe to equal suffrage for all people...at least not out loud. Adams wife, Abigail, did ask John Adams to ..."think of the ladies..." and maybe Jeffers ...more
Kazen
This was my "big read" for 2014 - I read a letter or two every day starting in January and here I am, done a month ahead of schedule. The letters between these two men make for an amazing read, especially after they retire from the public eye. Other reviews will do a better job explaining the context and times of the correspondence, so let me leave you with part of Jefferson's condolence letter to John Adams upon the death of his wife Abigail:
I will not, therefore, by useless condolences, open
...more
James Spurgeon
This is one of the greatest books that I have read. Two of our most prominent statesmen writing letters back and forth during the early days of our republic. Though there was a long absence during which they were at odds with each other, they still managed to put those differences aside and rekindle their friendship during the last decade of their lives. Not only were they writing about problems our early republic faced, but also topics such as philosophy, religion, education, and their families ...more
Mark
Fascinating insight into two of our founding fathers. Their similarities and differences formed a bond that helped build a foundation for American politics.
Brad
This is a collection of the correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. It may sound boring, but it is actually quite interesting. Adams and Jefferson started out their association as the best of friends, only to see that friendship fall apart when both men campaigned to become president of the new American republic. Their friendship was then renewed during their retirement years. It is a wonderful story to read about, and this book gives you the chance to read their ACTUAL words ins ...more
Clydie
What a unique look at the men who helped form this nation! What an amazing friendship, to have survived political adversity and time and distance. I find it fascinating that so much of their correspondence survived and their heirs and friends took the time to compile their writings to make this volume possible.
Richard
A fantastic collection of the entire correspondence between some of the greatest people of American history. A thoroughly engaging and enlightening experience, permitting one an intimate view into the hearts and lives of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I highly recommend it!
Colin
I once spent a week snowed in the house in Plymouth, unable to leave, during which I read this complete correspondence. Few weeks have been so instructive as to the nature of some of our founders.
Danjel Lessard
Feb 22, 2012 Danjel Lessard is currently reading it
As it was throughout John Adams by David McCullough the presentation of the literature that came out of these two men's pens is nothing short of inspiring.
Ray Harris
I got a copy as a Christmas gift in 2009. Thse two men are so different, yet both contributed greatly to what our country became. A great resd.
Melissa
300 pages of this was enough to count for me. Abigail's letters were by far the most interesting. This was for school, not pleasure.
Kate Duffey
Nov 15, 2013 Kate Duffey marked it as to-read
I would love to tell you what I think, but I'm unable to read this book. What does it mean when it asks "what shelf?" Please help.
Tyler
The first part was pretty boring so I skipped ahead and read from April 6th, 1796 until the end of their correspondance.
Laura
Because I seriously need more Adams books.... *grins*


This is an amazing book thusfar.
Bill
Sep 25, 2008 Bill added it
A great book. Their use of the language and phrasing is incredible.
Sheila
Jan 04, 2009 Sheila is currently reading it
Brilliant, detailed, vital exploration of making a new universe.
Carma Bird
Only one word......EXCELLENT !
Do
Two amazing men!
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  • My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams
  • Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams
  • Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800
  • Writings: Autobiography/Notes on the State of Virginia/Public & Private Papers/Addresses/Letters
  • Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787
  • Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage
  • The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800
  • The Radicalism of the American Revolution
  • Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge
  • American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence
  • James Madison: Writings: Writings 1772-1836
  • What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States
  • Jefferson and the Rights of Man
  • Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence
  • Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams
  • Abigail Adams: A Biography
  • Writings
  • Madison and Jefferson
The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams Atlas Of Early American History: The Revolutionary Era, 1760-1790 The Adams-Jefferson Letters (Vol. II): The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams The Adams-Jefferson Letters (Vol. I): The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams Lester J. Cappon and the Relationship of History, Archives, and Scholarship in the Golden Age of Archival Theory

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“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved - the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

{Letter to Thomas Jefferson, September 3, 1816]”
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