6th President of the United States (1767-1848)

John Quincy Adams quote

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, attributed, The Paradox of Power


Tags: dreams, leadership

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, oration at Plymouth, 1802


Tags: courage, perseverance

The will of the people is the source and the happiness of the people the end of all legitimate government upon earth.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1825


Tags: happiness, government

From the experience of the past we derive instructive lessons for the future.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1825


Tags: experience, past

In unfolding to my countrymen the principles by which I shall be governed in the fulfillment of those duties my first resort will be to that Constitution which I shall swear to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and defend. That revered instrument enumerates the powers and prescribes the duties of the Executive Magistrate, and in its first words declares the purposes to which these and the whole action of the Government instituted by it should be invariably and sacredly devoted--to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to the people of this Union in their successive generations. Since the adoption of this social compact one of these generations has passed away. It is the work of our forefathers. Administered by some of the most eminent men who contributed to its formation, through a most eventful period in the annals of the world, and through all the vicissitudes of peace and war incidental to the condition of associated man, it has not disappointed the hopes and aspirations of those illustrious benefactors of their age and nation. It has promoted the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all; it has to an extent far beyond the ordinary lot of humanity secured the freedom and happiness of this people. We now receive it as a precious inheritance from those to whom we are indebted for its establishment, doubly bound by the examples which they have left us and by the blessings which we have enjoyed as the fruits of their labors to transmit the same unimpaired to the succeeding generation.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1825


Tags: government

The best guarantee against the abuse of power consists in the freedom, the purity, and the frequency of popular elections.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1825


Tags: democracy, voting

Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, attributed, The Rebirth of a Nation


Tags: freedom

I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, letter to John Adams, Aug. 1, 1816


Tags: prayer, John Adams

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, attributed, Pocket Patriot: Quotes from American Heroes


Tags: voting, principles

America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet on her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world; she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.... Her glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, address to U.S. House of Representatives, Jul. 4, 1821


Tags: America, liberty

The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this -- it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the precepts of Christianity.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, letter to an autograph collector, Apr. 27, 1837


Tags: government, Christianity

The Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth ... it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, oration at Newburyport, Jul. 4, 1837


Tags: government, Christianity

All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, letter to William Eustis, Jun. 22, 1809


Tags: honesty, trust

Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round, till not a slave shall on this earth be found.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, attributed, The Neglected Period of Anti-slavery in America (1808-1831)


Tags: slavery

All the public business in Congress now connects itself with intrigues, and there is great danger that the whole government will degenerate into a struggle of cabals.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, journal entry, Jan. 1819


Tags: politics, government

The radical principle of all commercial intercourse between independent nations is the mutual interest of both parties. It is the vital spirit of trade itself; nor can it be reconciled to the nature of man or to the primary laws of human society that any traffic should long be willingly pursued of which all the advantages are on one side and all the burdens on the other. Treaties of commerce have been found by experience to be among the most effective instruments for promoting peace and harmony between nations whose interests, exclusively considered on either side, are brought into frequent collisions by competition. In framing such treaties it is the duty of each party not simply to urge with unyielding pertinacity that which suits its own interest, but to concede liberally to that which is adapted to the interest of the other.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Third Annual Message, Dec. 4, 1827


The origin of the political relations between the United States and France is coeval with the first years of our independence. The memory of it is interwoven with that of our arduous struggle for national existence. Weakened as it has occasionally been since that time, it can by us never be forgotten, and we should hail with exultation the moment which should indicate a recollection equally friendly in spirit on the part of France.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Third Annual Message, Dec. 4, 1827


Tags: France

Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, letter to James Lloyd, Oct. 1, 1822


Tags: liberty, freedom

Of the two great political parties which have divided the opinions and feelings of our country, the candid and the just will now admit that both have contributed splendid talents, spotless integrity, ardent patriotism, and disinterested sacrifices to the formation and administration of this Government, and that both have required a liberal indulgence for a portion of human infirmity and error.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1825


Tags: political parties, government

To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is ... the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs life itself and enlarges the sphere of existence.

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, report on the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution, 1846


Tags: knowledge