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John Adams and the Fear of American Oligarchy - Princeton Scholarship Online
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John Adams and the Fear of American Oligarchy

Luke Mayville


Long before “the one percent” became a protest slogan, American founding father John Adams feared the power of a class he called simply “the few”—the wellborn, the beautiful, and especially the rich. This book presents the first extended exploration of Adams' preoccupation with a problem that has a renewed urgency today: the way in which inequality threatens to corrode democracy and empower a small elite. By revisiting Adams' political writings, the book draws out the statesman's fears about the danger of oligarchy in America and his unique understanding of the political power of wealth—a surp ... More

Keywords: John Adams, inequality, democracy, oligarchy, wealth, political power

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780691171531
Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018 DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691171531.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Luke Mayville, author
Center for American Studias, Columbia University