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Brooks Adams

Adams, Brooks, 1848–1927, American historian, b. Quincy, Mass.; son of Charles Francis Adams (1807–86). His theory that civilization rose and fell according to the growth and decline of commerce was first developed in The Law of Civilization and Decay (1895). Adams applied it to his own capitalistic age, of which he was a militant critic, but failed to find the universal law that he persistently sought. His ideas greatly influenced his brother Henry Adams, whose essays he edited in The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma (1919). In America's Economic Supremacy (1900), Brooks said that Western Europe had already begun to decline and that Russia and the United States were the only potential great powers left. His other chief works include The Emancipation of Massachusetts (1887), The New Empire (1902), and Theory of Social Revolutions (1913).

See biography by A. F. Beringause (1955); J. T. Adams, The Adams Family (1930, repr. 1957); T. P. Donovan, Henry Adams and Brooks Adams (1961).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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