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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brooks Adams
Brooks Adams, photographed in 1910.
Brooks Adams, photographed in 1910.
BornPeter Chardon Brooks Adams
June 24, 1848
Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
DiedFebruary 13, 1927(1927-02-13) (aged 78)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Alma materHarvard
SpouseEvelyn Davis
RelativesCharles Francis Adams, Sr. (father)
Abigail Brown Brooks (mother)
John Quincy Adams (grandfather)
John Adams (great grandfather)

Peter Chardon Brooks Adams (June 24, 1848 – February 13, 1927) was an American historian, political scientist and a critic of capitalism.[1]

Early life and education

Adams was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on June 24, 1848, son of Charles Francis Adams and Abigail Brown Brooks.[2] He attended schools in the United States and in Europe.[2]

Adams was a great-grandson of President John Adams, a grandson of President John Quincy Adams, the youngest son of U.S. diplomat Charles Francis Adams, and brother to Charles Francis Adams Jr. and Henry Adams. He was a philosopher, historian, and novelist, whose theories of history were influenced by his work. His maternal grandfather was Peter Chardon Brooks, the wealthiest man in Boston at the time of his death.

He graduated from Harvard University in 1870 and studied at Harvard Law School in 1870 and 1871.[2] Adams was secretary to his father in Geneva, in 1872, where the latter was an arbitrator upon the Alabama claims, under the "Treaty of Washington."[2] He was admitted to the bar in 1873, practiced law in Boston until 1881, and then devoted himself to literary work.[2]

Social theories

Adams believed that commercial civilizations rise and fall in predictable cycles. First, masses of people draw together in large population centers and engage in commercial activities. As their desire for wealth grows, they discard spiritual and creative values. Their greed leads to distrust and dishonesty, and eventually the society crumbles. In The Law of Civilization and Decay (1895), Adams noted that as new population centers emerged in the west, centers of world trade shifted from Constantinople to Venice to Amsterdam to London. This work has been compared to the later, longer works Decline of the West (1918) by Oswald Spengler and A Study of History (1934–61) by Arnold Toynbee.[3][4][5]

Adams predicted in America's Economic Supremacy (1900) that New York would become the center of world trade.[citation needed]

Personal life

In 1889, Adams married Evelyn Davis, the daughter of Admiral Charles Henry Davis. They did not have children.[6] Evelyn Davis's sister Anna was the wife of Henry Cabot Lodge. Her sister Louisa was the wife of John Dandridge Henley Luce, the son of Stephen Luce.

Brooks Adams hired Wilhelmina Harris as social secretary for himself and his wife in 1920.[7] Harris lived and worked for them until both Brooks and Evelyn died.


He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1918.[8]


Family tree





  1. ^ "The new international encyclopaedia". Retrieved 2012-11-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Rossiter, ed. (1906). "Adams, Brooks". The Biographical Dictionary of America. 1. Boston: American Biographical Society. pp. 35–36. Retrieved October 22, 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Neilson, Francis (July 1945). "The Decline of Civilizations". The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 4 (4): 479. doi:10.1111/j.1536-7150.1945.tb01467.x.
  4. ^ Kuokkanen, Petri (17 May 2003). "Prophets of Decline: The Global Histories of Brooks Adams, Oswald Spengler, and Arnold Toynbee in the United States, 1896–1961" (PDF). University of Tampere, Department of History. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Ludovici, Anthony (1944). "The Law of Civilization and Decay," The New English Weekly 25, pp. 177–178.
  6. ^ 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.
  7. ^ NYT Obituary,
  8. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-10-21. Retrieved 1 April 2011.


Further reading

  • Aaron, Daniel. "The Unusable Man: An Essay on the Mind of Brooks Adams," The New England Quarterly 21 (1), March, 1948.
  • Anderson, Thornton. Brooks Adams, Constructive Conservative, Cornell University Press, 1951.
  • Beisner, Robert L. "Brooks Adams and Charles Francis Adams, Jr.: Historians of Massachusetts," The New England Quarterly 35 (1), March, 1962.
  • Beringause, Arthur F. Brooks Adams; a Biography, Knopf, 1955.
  • Brands, H. W. "Brooks Adams: Marx for Imperialists," in The Struggle for the Soul of Foreign Policy, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Donovan, Timothy Paul. Henry Adams and Brooks Adams; the Education of Two American Historians, University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
  • Harris, Wilhelmina S. "The Brooks Adams I Knew," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Vol. 80, 1968.
  • Madison, Charles A. "Brooks Adams: Jeremian Critic of Capitalism," The Antioch Review 4 (3), Autumn, 1944.
  • Mallan, John P. "Roosevelt, Brooks Adams, and Lea: The Warrior Critique of the Business Civilization," American Quarterly 8 (3), Autumn, 1956.
  • Marotta, Gary. "The Economics of American Empire: The View of Brooks Adams and Charles Arthur Conant," The American Economist 19 (2), Fall, 1975.
  • Nagel, Paul C. "Brooks Adams after Half a Century," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Vol. 90, 1978.
  • Tonsor, Stephen. "Adams, Brooks," First Principles, June 2012.
  • Whiting, John. The Economics of Human Energy in Brooks Adams, Ezra Pound, and Robert Theobald, 1971.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 August 2021, at 04:16
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