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This essay examines how the John Quincy Adams’s foreign policy maxim of “we do not go in search of monsters to destroy” has been appropriated in contemporary foreign policy, including the recent 2016 presidential campaign, arguing his aphorism are authorizing words that validate and ratify the positions of pundits, politicians, and policy-makers of not only critics of U.S. foreign policy, but those who defend it. Mapping Quincy Adams’s aphorism allows us to explore the boundaries and direction of America’s role in the world and how it impacts America’s exceptionalist ethos.

Original Citation

Edwards, J.A. (2017). Monsters to Destroy? The Rhetorical Legacy of John Quincy Adams’ July 4th, 1821 Oration. Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 7(1), 34-52.