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Collection Reference Number GLC01727
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1824 
Title John Quincy Adams to John McLean regarding the responsibility of government to improve transport infrastructure
Date 6 May 1824
Author Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848)  
Recipient Mclean, John  
Document Type Correspondence
Content Description Secretary of State Adams writes to McLean, Commissioner of the General Land Office, about the government responsibility for internal improvements. In response to McLean's request, he encloses a copy of an 1807 resolution he put before the senate on the topic (written on p. 3 in a secretarial hand) and indicates it can be "found in the Octavo Edition of the Journals of the Senate recently published Vol. 4, p. 155." Describes it as "the first Resolution ever offered in Congress, contemplating a general system of internal improvement." Discusses the congressional vote on it and the constitutionality of internal improvements. Argues that "The first object of human association is the improvement of the condition of the associates. Roads and canals are among the most essential means of improving the condition of Nations." Notes that the resolution was "passed in the negative."
Subjects US Constitution  President  Government and Civics  Congress  Law  Infrastructure  Transportation  Canals  
People Adams, John (1735-1826)  McLean, John (1785-1861)  Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848)  
Place written Washington, D.C.
Theme Government & Politics; The Presidency; Industry; Science, Technology, Invention
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information John Quincy Adams was one of the most brilliant men to occupy the White House. A deeply religious man, he read the Bible at least three times a day - once in English, once in German, and once in French. He was fluent in seven languages, including Greek and Latin. But Adams, like his father, lacked the political and personal skills necessary to win support for his programs. His adversaries mockingly described him as a "chip off the old iceberg." But his problems did not arise exclusively from his temperament. His misfortune was to serve as President at a time of growing partisan divisions. The Republican Party had split into two distinct camps. Adams and his supporters, known as the National Republicans, favored a vigorous role in promoting economic growth, while the Jacksonian Democrats demanded a limited government and strict adherence to laissez-faire principles. In this letter, Adams observes that throughout his political career he believed that the central government was responsible for maintaining what has come to be called the nation's infrastructure.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859
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