AMERICA'S POLITICAL DYNASTIES: From Adams to Kennedy by Stephen Hess


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The idea of an American political aristocracy achieved through the electorate after the manner of the seemingly hereditary seats in the English Parliament has exerted endless fascination on historians and biographers at the popular reading level. The Adamses, the Roosevelts, the Harrisons, the Tafts, the Lodges and, latterly, the Kennedys, have all been thoroughly discussed at greater length elsewhere. Although these families are included, the real difference of this book as compared to others of its kind lies in the number of less well known, less flamboyant families which have fettered themselves (and/or the public) with government service. Mr. Hess writes in a journalistic style with recourse to some workworn phrases that ought to be retired. However, his material is essentially interesting and he pays attention to the things the ordinary reader would like to know: how our political dynasties rose, how they petered out and the prospects for any of them rising again. The Muhlenbergs, the Bayards, the Frelinghuysens, the Tuckers and the Stocktons are described and examined for achievement and talent vs. nepotism and voter-habituation. What has started with power drive or money often leads, in the next generation, to money or more money, concomitant power and a tradition of public office. There is a strong ""Where are they now?"" reader interest catered to here and two appendices charting the offices held by political dynasties and families with three or more members of Congress.

Publisher: Doubleday