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Wikipedia Summary for Henry Brooks Adams

Henry Brooks Adams (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918) was an American historian and a member of the Adams political family, descended from two U.

S. Presidents.

As a young Harvard graduate, he served as secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, Abraham Lincoln's ambassador to the United Kingdom. The posting influenced the younger man through the experience of wartime diplomacy, and absorption in English culture, especially the works of John Stuart Mill. After the American Civil War, he became a political journalist who entertained America's foremost intellectuals at his homes in Washington and Boston.

During his lifetime, he was best known for The History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, a nine-volume work, praised for its literary style, command of the documentary evidence, and deep (family) knowledge of the period and its major figures.

His posthumously published memoir, The Education of Henry Adams, won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to be named by the Modern Library as the best English-language nonfiction book of the 20th century.

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Longer Version:

Practical politics consists in ignoring facts, but education and politics are two different and often contradictory things.


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Longer Version:

No man, however strong, can serve ten years as schoolmaster, priest, or Senator, and remain fit for anything else. All the dogmatic stations in life have the effect of fixing a certain stiffness of attitude forever, as though they mesmerised the subject.


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Longer Version:

Power is poison. Its effect on Presidents has been always tragic, chiefly as an almost indecent excitement at first, and a worse reaction afterwards; but also because no mind is so well balanced as to bear the strain of seizing unlimited force without habit or knowledge of it; and finding it disputed with him by hungry packs of wolves and hounds whose lives depend on snatching the carion.


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Longer Version:

A new friend is always a miracle, but at thirty-three years old, such a bird of paradise rising in the sage-brush was an avatar. One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible.


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Longer Version:

Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of forces. The men become every year more and more creatures of force, massed about central powerhouses. The conflict is no longer between the men, but between the motors that drive the men, and the men tend to succumb to their own motive forces.


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Longer Version:

He never labored so hard to learn a language as he did to hold his tongue, and it affected him for life. The habit of reticence -- of talking without meaning -- is never effaced.



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Longer Version:

One friend in a life-time is much; two are many; three are hardly possible. Friendship needs a certain parallelism of life, a community of thought, a rivalry of aim.


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Longer Version:

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.


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