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This book is a brilliant portrait of a remarkable man and his age. Most defeated ex-presidents disappear from public life soon after their presidencies. John Quincy Adams was an exception: two years after losing the election of 1828 to Andrew Jackson, he ran for the House of Represnetatives and served there until his death seventeen years later. During his spectacular congressional career, Adams became a folk hero in much of the North, hailed by some as Old Man Eloquent , by others as the conscience of New England and by still others as a bruiser who loved a good fight. He was feared in the South and regarded by many as a traitor and the archest enemy of slavery that ever existed . His enemies included most of the great names of his day--men such as Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun. But he had allies too, and with their support, he savaged congressmen and presidents who wanted to gut the tariff, silence the antislavery movement, take lands from Indians, annex Texas, make war against Mexico, and add a covey of slave states to the Union. Sometimes he won, often he lost, but, win or lose, he and his cohorts were a vital force in the turbulent politics of the day. This book is partly a vivid character portrait of a famous curmudgeon, but it is also a knowledgeable, dramatic study of congressional politics in the 1830s and 1840s. Obsessed by the slavery issue, Adams was given poor marks as a political analyst by most twentieth-century scholars. With a new perspective on the times, historians now wonder if he was more right than wrong.