Early American Foreign Policy Rhetoric: An Analysis of John Quincy Adams July 4, 1821 Oration

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2011

Project Description/Abstract

John Quincy Adams’ July 4, 1821 oration is considered to one of the greatest early American statements of American foreign policy. American political leaders, such as former presidential candidate Ron Paul, continually invoke Adams’s dictum that the United States does not go “in search of monsters to destroy” in its foreign policy. Despite its importance to the establishment of America’s early foreign policy of non-intervention, the address itself has received little to no attention from academic scholars, particularly scholars of American foreign policy rhetoric. For this summer research project, I am researching and analyzing Adams’s July 4 oration by exploring archival materials on John Quincy Adams that are available at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Additionally, I will be conducting a rhetorical analysis—analyzing how Adam constructed his argument—in delivering the address. This project will become an early chapter in a book that I am currently writing on the rhetorical and historical contours of U.S. debates over its role in the world.

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