John Adams and the Politics of Disjunction


  • Marcin Gajek Institute of Sociology at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw


While John Adams’ position as one of the prominent founding fathers has never been disputed, his presidency is predominantly assessed as mediocre. Many scholars argued that Adams was not only deprived of leadership and executive skills, but that he also lacked a coherent policy vision. The present paper argues that Adams’ failure as a chief-executive resulted not from the lack of a set agenda but rather from his outdated visions of politics and presidency. Both his leadership style and specific policies pursued by him constitute an example of the politics of disjunction. His desire to follow Washington’s Farewell Address was doomed to failure because of the quick transformation of American politics at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At the same time, his attachment to the classical ideal of the “aristocratic republic” was indefensible in the era of progressing democratization of popular moods. Combined, those two elements resulted in Adams failing to provide strong leadership to the Federalist party and to his inability to secure presidential re-election.

Keywords: United States, John Adams, presidency, politics of disjunction

DOI: 10.14712/23363231.2016.2