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Democracy - An American Novel


Democracy - An American Novel


To act with entire honesty and self-respect, one should always live in a pure atmosphere, and the atmosphere of politics is impure.”

-Senator Silas Ratcliffe, Democracy

HENRY ADAMS (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918) was an American writer and member of the Adams political family, being descended from two U.S. Presidents.

Adams grew disillusioned with a world he characterized as devoid of principle.

He was disgusted with demagogic politicians and a society in which all became “servants of the powerhouse.”

Americans, he wrote, “had no time for thought; they saw, and could see, nothing beyond their day’s work; their attitude to the universe outside them was that of the deep-sea fish.”

His anonymously published novel Democracy, an American Novel (1880) reflected his complete loss of faith.

Beneath the morality tale of corruption and cynicism was what Ernest Samuels called a "symposium on democratic government," with all sides of the issue given their due.

Because of its incendiary content, Adams insisted on total anonymity and instructed his publisher to bring the book out on April Fools’ Day 1880. He himself took care to be in Europe on publication day.

The novel created a sensation and was a best seller in the United States and England.

The identity of the author was not revealed for another thirty-five years.


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