Quotes

John Adams Quotes on Education

 

“Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.”

– John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765.

 

“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”

– John Adams

 

“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.”

– John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

 

“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, letter to Abigail Adams, Dec. 28, 1794.

 

“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

 

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

– John Adams

 

“You will ever remember that all the end of study is to make you a good man and a useful citizen.”

– John Adams

 

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

– John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.

 

“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.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Government

 

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

– John Adams

 

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

– John Adams

 

“When legislature is corrupted, the people are undone.”

– John Adams

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Freedom and Democracy

 

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

– John Adams

 

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

– John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814.

 

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”

– John Adams

 

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”

– John Adams

 

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

– John Adams

 

“Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power.”

– John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814.

 

“Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

– John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, Jul. 17, 1775

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Constitution

 

“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

– 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.

– John Adams

 

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”
– John Adams

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Power

 

“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.

 

“Power must never be trusted without a check.”

– John Adams

 

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.”

– John Adams

 

“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”

– John Adams

 

There 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, Notes for an oration at Braintree, Spring 1772.

 

Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de très bon foi, believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.

– John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Feb. 2, 1816.

 

Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.

– John Adams, Novanglus Essays, No. 3.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Law and Politics

 

“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.

 

“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 fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.”

– John Adams

 

“A government of laws, and not of men.”

– John Adams, Novanglus Essays, No. 7.

 

“In politics the middle way is none at all.”

– John Adams, letter to Horatio Gates, Mar. 23, 1776.

 

“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.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Religion

 

“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”
– John Adams

 

“But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.”
– 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?”

– John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816.

 

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”

– John Adams

 

”Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.”

– John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Apr. 19, 1817.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Humankind and Virtue

 

“Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.”

– John Adams, letter to Edmund Jennings, 1782.

 

“To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”

– John Adams

 

“Always stand on principle….even if you stand alone.”

– John Adams

 

“To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.”

– John Adams

 

“Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.”

– John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, Nov. 13, 1816

 

“The only think most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting.”

– John Adams

 

“You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

– John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, May 14, 1781.

 

“We cannot insure success, but we can deserve it.”

– John Adams

 

“The whole drama of the world is such tragedy that I am weary of the spectacle.”

– John Adams

 

“I am determined to control events, not be controlled by them.”

– John Adams

 

“A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as the keenest dispositions discovered in the heart of man.”

– John Adams

 

“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”

– John Adams

 

“Virtue is not always amiable.”

– John Adams, diary, Feb. 9, 1779.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Patriotism

 

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

John Adams, Letter to Benjamin Rush, 18 April 1808.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Government and Society

 

“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.

 

“Fear is the foundation of most governments.”

– John Adams

 

“There 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

 

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, that two become a lawfirm, and that three or more become a congress.”

– John Adams

 

“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

 

“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.

 

“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.

 

 

John Adams Quotes on Economy

 

“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, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, August 25, 1787.

 

“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.

 

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
– John Adams

 

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One Response to Quotes

  1. […] As John Adams said, ““Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.” (Source: John Adams Historical Society) […]