American President (1735-1826)

John Adams quote

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, letter to Jonathan Jackson, Oct. 2, 1789


Tags: political parties

Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Abigail Adams, Jul. 17, 1775


Tags: liberty, Abigail Adams

A government of laws, and not of men.

JOHN ADAMS, Novanglus Essays, No. 7


Tags: government, law

The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

JOHN ADAMS, Notes for an oration at Braintree, Spring 1772


Tags: government, liberty

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.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to John Taylor, 1814


Tags: democracy, government

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, Thoughts on Government


Tags: education

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Benjamin Rush, Apr. 18, 1808


Tags: duty

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, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, Dec. 4, 1770


Tags: facts

Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing.

JOHN ADAMS, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law


Tags: knowledge

We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all Divines and moral Philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.

JOHN ADAMS, Thoughts on Government


Tags: happiness, government

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, attributed, John Adams: His Words


Tags: law

The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

JOHN ADAMS, notes for an oration at Braintree, spring 1772


Tags: liberty

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, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law


Tags: power, freedom

As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected ... before a drop of blood was shed.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Aug. 24, 1815


Tags: revolution

The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own.

JOHN ADAMS, First Address to Congress, Nov. 23, 1797


Tags: national debt

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

JOHN ADAMS, letter to J. H. Tiffany, Mar. 31, 1819


Tags: words

While all other Sciences have advanced, that of Government is at a stand; little better understood; little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Jul. 9, 1813


Tags: government

The prospect is chilling, on every Side. Gloomy, dark, melancholy, and dispiriting. When and where will the light spring up?

JOHN ADAMS, diary, Sep. 16, 1777


The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor. Equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.

JOHN ADAMS, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 13, 1815


Tags: tyranny, power

The law no passion can disturb. 'Tis void of desire and fear, lust and anger. 'Tis mens sine affectu, written reason, retaining some measure of the divine perfection. It does not enjoin that which pleases a weak, frail man, but, without any regard to persons, commands that which is good and punishes evil in all, whether rich or poor, high or low.

JOHN ADAMS, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, Dec. 4, 1770


Tags: law, reason