Profiles In Courage is a book that focuses onthe adversity that very few United States Senators have been willing to deal with in order to cultivate their ideas of better democracy. It focuses primarily on the independent thoughts and views that those few politicians have been willing to stand up for, with other odds against them.
The first Senator that is focused on is John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, son of John Adams. He was a Puritan and a Federalist, with odd loyalty to his father. One of the odd things about the younger Adams was his constant sense. No matter what he accomplished, and he did accomplish a lot (such as being an emissary to England, a president of the United States, minister to Russia, a Senator, and several other things), he was never satisfied. He did things on his own accord, knowing that following his own principles would lead to unpopularity, which it most certainly did.
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When a party was thrown by the Jeffersonians to celebrate the Louisiana purchase, he was there, much to the distaste of the fellow members of his party. When three patriots died and the Federalists wanted to wear crepe for one month in their honor, he opposed it. One of Quincy’s main standards that he set for himself was that he would not pretend or dissemble in order to win popularity, or voter support. Adams only had one term on the Senate started with his obvious independent thinking and non-automatic reciprocity when he suggested that the opposing party be given an equal spot on the Governor’s council. He also differed from his multitude on another large issue. During his years on the Senate, Britain seized U.S. vessels.
Adams condemned Britain for this, though his party pitied Britain for its difficulties in its war against the French. Adams asked his party soon after to call a meeting, but they did not follow through. Adams, instead, attended the town meeting held by the Republicans. “Old Man Eloquent” was later asked to become a congressmen. He stated that he would not rally votes, and that he would not obey the ideals of the party over his own, independent morals.
John Quincy Adams was a man of courage, not just for staying fast to his beliefs on patriotism and political issues, but also for sticking to his morals at the same time. Unlike Daniel Webster, Adams was a moral man, and not only stuck to his views in politics, but to his rhetoric in relation to standards that he set for himself. In 1850, an aging Henry Clay presented to Daniel Webster a plan of five things that he believed would solve the growing crisis between the northern and southern states. Clay believed that the best way to manifest his beliefs was to have Webster present the ideas orally.
Webster’s was highly regarded as an amazing orator and public speaker. His presence was said to be amazing and was said to have the innate ability to bring people together and to move them. A minor flaw of Webster’s was that he was willing to accept bribes. He was a man that was constantly in debt, but never saw it as a disadvantage, nor a danger. He knew that at all times their would be people who wished for their political say in the shape of things.
Webster agreed to support the compromise, and to present its goals at a convention. As the “Seventh of March” approached, Webster was warned more than once of the attacks that his speech would provoke, and of the damage that it could do to his career. By making this speech, which stressed the preservation of the Union rather than favoring either side, Daniel Webster was giving up his promising shot at the presidency, and with that, his entire reputation. The speech was delivered, stressing, as stated earlier, that the nation needed to unite and to compromise. Webster’s speech was considered patriotic by the South, but those from the North highly disagreed with Webster. Even after he had turned seventy, he continued to go around touring and speaking of compromise and unity.
He believed that if there was any shot that the ideas that he believed in could proliferate unity and prevent the war from happening, that he should take that shot. Daniel Webster, in doing this, must have known that the courage he radiated could not possibly make him any more popular. He had a shot at the presidency, but was willing to compromise his own political gain for the good of the nation. Another interesting story is that of Sam Houston. Raised by the Cherokee, who dubbed him Co-lon-neh the Raven, Houston was a hero in the battle of San Jacinto against Santa Anna. Once the president of Texas (before it was annexed), he became the first senator to ever come from that state. When he eventually became a senator, Houston already had a vast political background.
He supported the Missouri Compromise, as well as The Great Compromise, and was.