28 July 2005 - Thursday

Politics and the young mind

Henry Adams, The Education of (1907), chapter three:

Life was not yet complicated. Every problem had a solution, even the negro. The boy went back to Boston [from Washington and nearby slave states in 1850] more political than ever, and his politics were no longer so modern as the eighteenth century, but took a strong tone of the seventeenth. Slavery drove the whole Puritan community back on its Puritanism. The boy thought as dogmatically as though he were one of his own ancestors. The Slave power took the place of Stuart kings and Roman popes. Education could go no further in that course, and ran off into emotion; but, as the boy gradually found his surroundings change, and felt himself no longer an isolated atom in a hostile universe, but a sort of herring-fry in a shoal of moving fish, he began to learn the first and easier lessons of practical politics. Thus far he had seen nothing but eighteenth-century statesmanship. America and he began, at the same time, to become aware of a new force under the innocent surface of party machinery. Even at that moment, a rather slow boy felt dimly conscious that he might meet some personal difficulties in trying to reconcile sixteenth-century principles and eighteenth-century statesmanship with nineteenth-century party organization.

| Posted by Wilson at 7:51 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk