Jamie Macpherson

Jamie MacPherson

Institutional Representative Board Member, University of Stirling


My research focuses on the political friendships of John Adams, second president (1797-1801) and Founding Father, a man who Joseph Ellis called “the most self-revealed, instinctively candid, gloriously fallible, wholly honest member of that remarkable, “band of brothers”.

Friendship is a powerful bond, an elemental human relationship, which Adams called “one of the distinguishing glories of man”. His reflections provide us with intimate portraits of life, politics and power in early American history. Following Aristotle and Derrida, this study considers friendship an inherently political friendship. The Enlightenment changed understandings of such relationships, they became – in neo-aristotelean terms – vital to securing the unity of the polis. Such bonds centred on: virtue, trust, and self sacrifice and replaced the monarchical ties: defence, patronage, and hierarchy. Friendship was therefore, a force for securing the liberty of America, to engender affection and virtue among her citizens and ultimately, to safeguard Republicanism.

It is a challenging study, which engages with classical, medieval, Enlightenment and modern philosophy as well as political theory and sociology.

Drawing on the works of Barker-Benfield, Goober, Good and Leibiger, it will examine this powerful bond through the epistolary medium, and chart the relative intimacies and political engagement.

Those to be studied include: Abigail Adams, Richard Cranch, Elbridge Gerry, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush and James and Mercy Warren. This thesis will examine the nature of these relationships, and in so doing, hope to reveal the mutability of friendship and politics in the age of Enlightenment.

Currently, I am employed as a research assistant on The Bernard Papers.

Previously, I have studied at the Universities of Stirling and Edinburgh.

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