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25 Great John Adams Quotes


John Adams, born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts, served as Vice President to the first President of the United States, George Washington. Adams was also the second President of the United States and served from 1797-1801. Adams was also an American statesman, diplomat, and political theorist. Adams supported Enlightenment and Republicanism and is esteemed as one of the most influential founders of the U.S. Adams led the U.S. as a political theorist and historian during the early years of the American Revolution. Adams also is primarily responsible for convincing Congress to declare independence from Great Britain by drafting the U.S. Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Adams was also a representative for the U.S. Congress within Europe and later assisted with a peace treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain. Adams was primarily responsible for drafting the Massachusetts State Constitution during 1780 and later helped draft the federal Constitution.

A profound judge of character, Adams nominated George Washington as America's first President in 1775, and also nominated John Marshall as Chief Justice for the U.S. in 1800. In the same year, Adams ran for presidential re-election but suffered a bitter defeat by Thomas Jefferson due to heavy political opposition and disunity between the Republican and Federalist parties. Following his defeat, Adams retired with his wife, Abigail, to Quincy, Massachusetts and refrained from the public. In 1812, Adams exchanged a series of 158 letters with Jefferson, his formerly estranged friend, esteemed by scholars as "one of the greatest legacies and monuments to American literature." On the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826, Adams passed away at his home but his traditions as a politician, intellectual, and visionary continue. Here are the 25 Best John Adams Quotes:

1. "A government of laws, and not of men."

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

3. "All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation."

4. "As much as I converse with sages and heroes, they have very little of my love and admiration. I long for rural and domestic scene, for the warbling of birds and the prattling of my children."

5. "Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases."

6. "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."

7. "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

8. "Fear is the foundation of most governments."

9. "Genius is sorrow's child."

10. "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war."

11. "Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination - everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell."

12. "I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth."

13. "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."

14. "I must not write a word to you about politics, because you are a woman."

15. "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy."

16. "If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?"

17. "In politics the middle way is none at all."

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

19. "Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people."

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

21. "My country has contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

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

23. "As long as Property exists, it will accumulate in Individuals and Families. As long as Marriage exists, Knowledge, Property, and Influence will accumulate in Families."

24. "Children should be educated and instructed on the principles of freedom."

25. "My best wishes, in the joys, and festivities, and the solemn services of that day on which will be completed the fiftieth year from its birth, of the independence of the United States: a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind."

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