John Quincy Adams in Pittsburgh

John Quincy Adams, Daguerreotyped in 1843, the year he visited Pittsburgh. Could a new two-volume edition of Modern Chivalry be among the books on the table behind him?

An interesting pamphlet has just appeared on Project Gutenberg:

Ex-President John Quincy Adams in Pittsburgh (1843)

It consists of a speech by Wilson McCandless (who gave his name to the Town of McCandless, Allegheny County’s most perfectly square township) welcoming Mr. Adams, Adams’ speech in reply, and some correspondence between the two men.

McCandless sent Adams the new edition of Modern Chivalry by Hugh Henry Brackenridge, and it’s very interesting to read Adams’ opinion of the work. He had read and loved it as a young man, and he expects it to be a permanent part of the world’s literature. Whether it has lived up to that expectation is debatable; it is not always in print like the works of Hawthorne, but on the other hand it is reprinted often enough that it could not quite be called forgotten. At any rate, Pittsburgh has at least the honor of having made one of the first substantial contributions to American fiction, and can claim a literary culture well over two centuries old.

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