Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Democracy - An American Novel

Democracy - An American Novel by Henry Adams
By: (1838-1918)

Not until after his death in 1918 was it revealed that Henry Adams was the anonymous author of Democracy, which had been published to great acclaim in 1880. Though the book avoids dates and the characters are fictitious, the setting is no doubt that of Washington in the 1870s, the age of Presidents Grant and Hayes. The young widow, Madeleine Lee, wealthy and independent, is the protagonist, who leaves her New York for Washington to turn her intelligence to politics and to see what makes her country tick. There she meets (among others) Senator Silas P. Ratcliffe of Illinois, one of the most powerful and influential (if somewhat uncultured) men of the capital, who is considering a run for the presidency, and who needs a wife to act as First Lady, a position that (he thinks) Mrs. Lee would admirably fill.
Through the book Adams plays with the themes of political necessity, compromise, corruption -- particularly the kind of corporate domination of national politics that he saw becoming all too powerful. Should honest and intelligent men keep their integrity by avoiding politics? Or would that simply mean turning over the governance of the country to power-hungry, scheming, and none too honest hacks? For all the witty conversations in his novel, this was a theme that plagued Adams (a presidential grandson) in life as well as literature, and it is a theme that has by no means disappeared today.
(Introduction by Nicholas Clifford)

First Page:


By Henry Adams

First published anonymously, March 1880, and soon in various unauthorized editions. It wasn't until the 1925 edition that Adams was listed as author. Henry Adams remarked (ironically as usual), "The wholesale piracy of Democracy was the single real triumph of my life." it was very popular, as readers tried to guess who the author was and who the characters really were. Chapters XII and XIII were originally misnumbered.

Chapter I

FOR reasons which many persons thought ridiculous, Mrs. Lightfoot Lee decided to pass the winter in Washington. She was in excellent health, but she said that the climate would do her good. In New York she had troops of friends, but she suddenly became eager to see again the very small number of those who lived on the Potomac. It was only to her closest intimates that she honestly acknowledged herself to be tortured by ennui. Since her husband's death, five years before, she had lost her taste for New York society; she had felt no interest in the price of stocks, and very little in the men who dealt in them; she had become serious... Continue reading book >>

Stream audiobook and download chapters

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books