John Quincy Adams: Liberal or Conservative?

It's interesting to go back and find the 'conservative' and 'liberal' causes of early American history because we would hardly recognize them as fitting in the modern era.

John Q. Adams was pro national bank, pro tariff, pro internal improvements (think national works projects for infrastructure), anti Indian removal and late in his career as a congressman Anti Slavery.

Tariffs of course helped the domestic manufacturers, internal improvements helped the country in a general sense, the idea of being against the forced removal of 'civilized' Indians who had abandoned their nomadic ways and had taken up agriculture and railing against slavery would all seem in the modern era to be liberal ideologies, not conservative. However, Q. Adams was derided by the southern Jeffersonians as anti Democratic and monarchical for these beliefs.

In those days, the 'populist progressive' would be someone that was for a small federal government, state militias instead of standing armies and who was willing to clear away the settled Shawnee, Creek, Seminal and Iroquois Indians to make room for the poor white man.

When you look at the important policy makers of early American history, the idea of Liberal vs. Conservative rings hollow and you're forced instead to look at their specific beliefs on specific issues to really understand them.

No comments:

Post a Comment