John Adams

Born:   October 30, 1735, Braintree, Province of Massachusetts Bay, British America (now Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.).
Died:   July 4, 1826 (aged 90), Quincy, Massachusetts, United States of America
Resting place   United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts

He was an American lawyer, author, statesman, and diplomat. Adams was a political theorist in the Age of Enlightenment who promoted republicanism and a strong central government. His innovative ideas were frequently published. He was also a dedicated diarist and correspondent, particularly with his wife and key advisor Abigail.

He was elected 1796 as the second President of the United States of America

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About Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Right & Amendment

…Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates in all future periods of this commonwealth to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them, especially the university at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings, sincerity, good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.
John Adams, Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States of America, Bill of Rights and Constitutional Amendments

…While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice our local destination. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world.
John Adams, Thoughts On Government Applicable To The Present State Of The American Colonies.: Philadelphia, Printed By John Dunlap, M,Dcc,Lxxxvi

…It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men… and modern nations, in the consecrations of kings, and in several superstitious chimeras of divine rights in princes and nobles, are nearly unanimous in preserving remnants of it… Is the jealousy of power, and the envy of superiority, so strong in all men, that no considerations of public or private utility are sufficient to engage their submission to rules for their own happiness? Or is the disposition to imposture so prevalent in men of experience, that their private views of ambition and avarice can be accomplished only by artifice? — … There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. As Copley painted Chatham, West, Wolf, and Trumbull, Warren and Montgomery; as Dwight, Barlow, Trumbull, and Humphries composed their verse, and Belknap and Ramzay history; as Godfrey invented his quadrant, and Rittenhouse his planetarium; as Boylston practised inoculation, and Franklin electricity; as Paine exposed the mistakes of Raynal, and Jefferson those of Buffon, so unphilosophically borrowed from the Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains those despicable dreams of de Pauw — neither the people, nor their conventions, committees, or sub-committees, considered legislation in any other light than ordinary arts and sciences, only as of more importance. Called without expectation, and compelled without previous inclination, though undoubtedly at the best period of time both for England and America, to erect suddenly new systems of laws for their future government, they adopted the method of a wise architect, in erecting a new palace for the residence of his sovereign. They determined to consult Vitruvius, Palladio, and all other writers of reputation in the art; to examine the most celebrated buildings, whether they remain entire or in ruins; compare these with the principles of writers; and enquire how far both the theories and models were founded in nature, or created by fancy: and, when this should be done, as far as their circumstances would allow, to adopt the advantages, and reject the inconveniences, of all. Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.
Preface to ‘A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America’, 1787
John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America

…Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. Aristotle speaks plainly to this purpose, saying, ‘that the institution of youth should be accommodated to that form of government under which they live; forasmuch as it makes exceedingly for the preservation of the present government, whatsoever it be.
John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America

…There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous [founding nations upon superstition]; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history… [T]he detail of the formation of the American governments… may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven… it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses… Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.
A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America, 1787
John Adams, The Political Writings of John Adams

…As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
John Adams submitted and signed the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797
John Adams, Thoughts On Government Applicable To The Present State Of The American Colonies.: Philadelphia, Printed By John Dunlap, M,Dcc,Lxxxvi

The quotation is, in fact, part of Article 11 of The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli.
The treaty was written by an American diplomat, John Barlow. It was approved by John Adams and ratified by The Senate.

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The Portable John Adams

…Government has no right to hurt a hair on the head of an Atheist for his Opinions. Let him have a care of his Practices.
Letter to his son and future president, John Quincy Adams, 16 June 1816
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

…The true source of our sufferings has been our timidity.
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

…Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

…Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

…It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished…
…But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

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Diary and Autobiography

…Tacitus appears to have been as great an enthusiast as Petrarch for the revival of the republic and universal empire. He has exerted the vengeance of history upon the emperors, but has veiled the conspiracies against them, and the incorrigible corruption of the people which probably provoked their most atrocious cruelties. Tyranny can scarcely be practised upon a virtuous and wise people.
John Adams, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams: Volumes 1-4, Diary (1755-1804) and Autobiography

…I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading.
John Adams, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams: Volumes 1-4, Diary (1755-1804) and Autobiography

…A pleasant morning. Saw my classmates Gardner, and Wheeler. Wheeler dined, spent the afternoon, and drank Tea with me. Supped at Major Gardiners, and engag’d to keep School at Bristol, provided Worcester People, at their ensuing March meeting, should change this into a moving School, not otherwise. Major Greene this Evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ. All the Argument he advanced was, ‘that a mere creature, or finite Being, could not make Satisfaction to infinite justice, for any Crimes,’ and that ‘these things are very mysterious.
Thus mystery is made a convenient Cover for absurdity.
Diary entry, February 13 1756
John Adams, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams: Volumes 1-4, Diary (1755-1804) and Autobiography

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Letters – The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

…Human nature with all its infirmities and deprivation is still capable of great things. It is capable of attaining to degrees of wisdom and goodness, which we have reason to believe, appear as respectable in the estimation of superior intelligences. Education makes a greater difference between man and man, than nature has made between man and brute. The virtues and powers to which men may be trained, by early education and constant discipline, are truly sublime and astonishing. Isaac Newton and John Locke are examples of the deep sagacity which may be acquired by long habits of thinking and study.
John Adams, Familiar Letters Of John Adams And His Wife Abigail Adams During The Revolution: With A Memoir Of Mrs. Adams

…A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

Letter to Abigail Adams, (Abigail Adams (née Smith; November 22 [O.S. November 11] 1744 – October 28, 1818) was the wife of John Adams and the mother of John Quincy Adams. She is now designated the first Second Lady and second First Lady of the United States, although these titles were not in use at the time.
Adams’s life is one of the most documented of the first ladies: she is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. The letters serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.)

To Abigail Adams
John Adams
July 03, 1776

Yesterday, the greatest question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which other States may rightfully do.” You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days.

When I look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I have hitherto considered as the commencement of this controversy between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole period, from that time to this, and recollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and effects, I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. Britain has been filled with folly, and America with wisdom. At least, this is my judgment. Time must determine. It is the will of Heaven that the two countries should be sundered forever. It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting, and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have the good effect at least. It will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies and vices which duces refinement, in States as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming in every part will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues, or they will be no blessings. The people will have unbounded power, and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.

Had a declaration of Independency been made seven months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious effects. We might, before this hour, have formed alliances with foreign States…

But, on the other hand, the delay of this declaration to this time has many great advantages attending it. The hopes of reconciliation, which were fondly entertained by multitudes of honest and well-meaning, though weak and mistaken people, have been gradually and, at last, totally extinguished. Time has been given for the whole people maturely to consider the great question of independence, and to ripen their judgment, dissipate their fears, and allure their hopes, by discussing it in newspapers and pamphlets, by debating it in assemblies, conventions, committees of safety and inspection, in town and county meetings, as well as in private conversations, so that the whole people, in every colony of the thirteen, have now adopted it as their own act. This will cement the union, and avoid those heats, and perhaps convulsions which might have been occasioned by such a declaration six months ago.

But the day is past. The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.

…You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.
Letter to his Wife, Abigail, July 03, 1776

…The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

…I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

…Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

…The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.
John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

…I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.
John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

…Daughter! Get you an honest Man for a Husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent. Regard the Honour and moral Character of the Man more than all other Circumstances. Think of no other Greatness but that of the soul, no other Riches but those of the Heart. An honest, Sensible humane Man, above all the Littlenesses of Vanity, and Extravagances of Imagination, labouring to do good rather than be rich, to be usefull rather than make a show, living in a modest Simplicity clearly within his Means and free from Debts or Obligations, is really the most respectable Man in Society, makes himself and all about him the most happy.
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

…You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.
John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

…Negro Slavery is an evil of Colossal magnitude and I am utterly averse to the admission of Slavery into the Missouri Territories.
John Adams, Familiar Letters Of John Adams And His Wife Abigail Adams During The Revolution: With A Memoir Of Mrs. Adams

…You go on, I presume, with your latin Exercises: and I wish to hear of your beginning upon Sallust who is one of the most polished and perfect of the Roman Historians, every Period of whom, and I had almost said every Syllable and every Letter is worth Studying…
…In Company with Sallust, Cicero, Tacitus and Livy, you will learn Wisdom and Virtue. You will see them represented, with all the Charms which Language and Imagination can exhibit, and Vice and Folly painted in all their Deformity and Horror…
…You will ever remember that all the End of study is to make you a good Man and a useful Citizen.—This will ever be the Sum total of the Advice of your affectionate Father,
John Adams”

John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

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Letters – Adams-Jefferson Letters

…I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, September 3, 1816] John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

…I say, that Power must never be trusted without a check.
John Adams, Letter to T. Jefferson

…I am bold to Say that neither you nor I, will live to See the Course which ‘the Wonders of the Times’ will take. Many Years, and perhaps Centuries must pass, before the current will acquire a Settled direction… yet Platonic, Pythagoric, Hindoo, and cabalistic Christianity, which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1,500 years, has received a mortal wound, of which the monster must finally die. Yet so strong is his constitution, that he may endure for centuries before he expires.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814

…The Presidential election has given me less anxiety than I myself could have imagined. The next administration will be a troublesome one, to whomsoever it falls, and our John has been too much worn to contend much longer with conflicting factions. I call him our John, because, when you were at the Cul de sac at Paris, he appeared to me to be almost as much your boy as mine.

…As to the decision of your author, though I wish to see the book {Flourens’s Experiments on the functions of the nervous system in vertebrated animals}, I look upon it as a mere game at push-pin. Incision-knives will never discover the distinction between matter and spirit, or whether there is any or not. That there is an active principle of power in the universe, is apparent; but in what substance that active principle resides, is past our investigation. The faculties of our understanding are not adequate to penetrate the universe. Let us do our duty, which is to do as we would be done by; and that, one would think, could not be difficult, if we honestly aim at it.

Your university is a noble employment in your old age, and your ardor for its success does you honor; but I do not approve of your sending to Europe for tutors and professors. I do believe there are sufficient scholars in America, to fill your professorships and tutorships with more active ingenuity and independent minds than you can bring from Europe. The Europeans are all deeply tainted with prejudices, both ecclesiastical and temporal, which they can never get rid of. They are all infected with episcopal and presbyterian creeds, and confessions of faith. They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Herschel’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.

I salute your fireside with best wishes and best affections for their health, wealth and prosperity.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 22 January, 1825
John Adams

…We think ourselves possessed, or at least we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact. There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself, it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not much better; even in our Massachusetts, which, I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemies upon any book of the Old Testament or New. Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any arguments for investigation into the divine authority of those books? Who would run the risk of translating Volney’s Recherches Nouvelles? Who would run the risk of translating Dupuis? But I cannot enlarge upon this subject, though I have it much at heart. I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws… but as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825
John Adams, Adams-Jefferson Letters

…We think ourselves possessed, or, at least, we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects, and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact!
John Adams, Adams-Jefferson Letters

…This society [Jesuits] has been a greater calamity to mankind than the French Revolution, or Napoleon’s despotism or ideology. It has obstructed the progress of reformation and the improvement of the human mind in society much longer and more fatally.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, November 4, 1816. Adams wrote an anonymous 4 volume work on the destructive history of the Jesuits

…Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?
Letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821

…The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 20, 1815

…Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!
John Adams, Adams-Jefferson Letters

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Letters – To his Son John Quincy Adams

…Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
Letter to his son and 6th US president, John Quincy Adams, November 13 1816
John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

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Letters – To Nathan Webb

From John Adams to Nathan Webb, with Comments by the Writer Recorded in 1807

Worcester Octr: 12th: I believe, 1755

Dear sir

All that part of Creation that lies within our observation is liable to Change. Even mighty States and kingdoms, are not exempted. If we look into History we shall find some nations rising from contemp­tible beginnings, and spreading their influence, ’till the whole Globe is subjected to their sway. When they have reach’d the summit of Grandeur, some minute and unsuspected Cause commonly effects their Ruin, and the Empire of the world is transferr’d to some other place. Immortal Rome was at first but an insignificant Village, inhabited only by a few abandoned Ruffins, but by degrees it rose to a stupendous Height, and excell’d in Arts and Arms all the Nations that praeceeded it. But the demolition of Carthage (what one should think would have establish’d it in supream dominion) by removing all danger, suffer’d it to sink into debauchery, and made it att length an easy prey to Barbarians.—England Immediately, upon this began to increase (the particular, and minute causes of which I am not Historian enough to trace) in Power and magnificence, and is now the greatest Nation upon the globe.—Soon after the Reformation a few people came over into this new world for Concience sake. Perhaps this (apparently) trivial incident, may transfer the great seat of Empire into America. It looks likely to me. For if we can remove the turbulent Gallicks, our People according to the exactest Computations, will in another Century, become more numerous than England itself. Should this be the Case, since we have (I may say) all the naval Stores of the Nation in our hands, it will be easy to obtain the mastery of the seas, and then the united force of all Europe, will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves, is to disunite Us. Divide et impera. Keep us in distinct Colonies, and then, some great men, in each Colony, desiring the Monarchy of the Whole, they will destroy each others influence and keep the Country in Equilibrio.1

Be not surprised that I am turn’d Politician. This whole town is immers’d in Politicks. The interests of Nations, and all the dira of War, make the subject of every Conversation. I set and hear, and after having been led thro’ a maze of sage observations, I some times retire, and by laying things together, form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these reveries, You have read above. Different employment and different objects may have drawn your thoughts other ways. I shall think myself happy if in your turn, you communicate your Lucubrations to me. I wrote you, some time since, and have waited, with impatience, for an answer, but have been disappointed. I hope that Lady at Barnstable, has not made you forget your Friends. Friendship, I take it, is one of the distinguishing Glorys of man. And the Creature that is insensible of its Charms, tho he may wear the shape, of Man, is unworthy of the Character. In this, perhaps, we bear a nearer resemblance of unbodied intelligences than any thing else. From this I expect to receive the Cheif happiness of my future life, and am sorry that fortune has thrown me at such a distance from those of my Friends who have the highest place in my affections. But thus it is; and I must submit. But I hope e’er long to return and live in that happy familiarity, that has from earliest infancy subsisted between yourself, and affectionate Friend,

John Adams
Worcester Octr: 12th: I believe, 1755

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Quotes

…The happiness of society is the end of government.
John Adams

…No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.
John Adams

…I wish I could lay down beside her and die too.
John Adams

…here is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.
John Adams

…There are persons whom in my heart I despise, others I abhor. Yet I am not obliged to inform the one of my contempt, nor the other of my detestation. This kind of dissimulation…is a necessary branch of wisdom, and so far from being immoral…that it is a duty and a virtue.
John Adams

…Make Things rather than Persons the subjects of conversations.
John Adams

…A man ought to avow his opinions and defend them with boldness.
John Adams

…I want to see my wife and children every day, I want to see my grass and blossoms and corn … But above all, except the wife and children, I want to see my books.
John Adams

…There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

…Turn our thoughts, in the next place, to the characters of learned men. The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. Read over again all the accounts we have of Hindoos, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Teutons, we shall find that priests had all the knowledge, and really governed all mankind. Examine Mahometanism, trace Christianity from its first promulgation; knowledge has been almost exclusively confined to the clergy. And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.
Letters to John Taylor, 1814, XVIII, p. 484
John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

…Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write .
John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

…The way to secure liberty is to place it in the people’s hands, that is, to give them the power at all times to defend it in the legislature and in the courts of justice.
John Adams

…Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrendered their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.
John Adams

…And liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people who have a right from the frame of their nature to knowledge…
John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

…The whole drama of the world is such tragedy that I am weary of the spectacle.
John Adams

…Be not intimidated…nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.
John Adams

…Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.
John Adams

…But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed? How has it happened that all the fine arts, architecture, painting, sculpture, statuary, music, poetry, and oratory, have been prostituted, from the creation of the world, to the sordid and detestable purposes of superstition and fraud?
Letter to judge F.A. Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816.

…All the perplexities, confusion, and distress in America arise, not from want of honor or virtue, but from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.
John Adams

…When legislature is corrupted, the people are undone.
John Adams

When writing the constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, John Adams wrote:
…I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading.
John Adams

…To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.
John Adams

…Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.
John Adams

…If worthless men are sometimes at the head of affairs, it is, I believe, because worthless men are at the tail and the middle
John Adams

…Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
John Adams

…It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.
John Adams

…We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.
John Adams

…Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.
John Adams

…Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.
John Adams

…The true source of our sufferings has been our timidity.
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

…The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families.
John Adams

…Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.
John Adams

…The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.
John Adams, The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams

…Everything in life should be done with reflection.
John Adams

…There are only two creatures of value on the face of the earth: those with the commitment, and those who require the commitment of others.
John Adams

…The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.
John Adams

…God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.
John Adams

…Property monopolized or in the possession of a few is a curse to mankind.
John Adams

…They shall not be expected to acknowledge us until we have acknowledged ourselves.
John Adams

…Admire and adore the Author of the telescopic universe, love and esteem the work, do all in your power to lessen ill, and increase good, but never assume to comprehend.
John Adams

…Nineteen twentieths of [mankind is] opaque and unenlightened. Intimacy with most people will make you acquainted with vices and errors and follies enough to make you despise them.
John Adams

…There is no greater guilt than the unneccessary war.
John Adams

…I have accepted a seat in the House of Representatives, and thereby have consented to my own ruin, to your ruin, and to the ruin of our children. I give you this warning that you may prepare your mind for your fate.
John Adams

…Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.
John Adams

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