Quotes from John Adams

Carin asked for a post. Without further comment.

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. (the last 2 sentences are from Letter to John Taylor 15 April 1814) I cannot find the first.

Fear is the foundation of most governments. (Letter to George Wythe, April 1776)
In politics the middle way is none at all. (Letter to Horatio Gates 23 March 1776)

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

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. (Letter to Thomas Jefferson 2 February 1816)
Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.

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. (Notes for an oration at Braintree (Spring 1772)
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. (A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law 1765)

A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. (Letter to Abigail Adams (17 July 1775)

I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof. (on the White House in a letter to Abigail Adams 2 November 1800)

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. But killing one tyrant only makes way for worse, unless the people have sense, spirit and honesty enough to establish and support a constitution guarded at all points against the tyranny of the one, the few, and the many. Let it be the study, therefore, of lawgivers and philosophers, to enlighten the people’s understandings and improve their morals, by good and general education; to enable them to comprehend the scheme of government, and to know upon what points their liberties depend; to dissipate those vulgar prejudices and popular superstitions that oppose themselves to good government; and to teach them that obedience to the laws is as indispensable in them as in lords and kings. (John Adams, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, 1787)

We’re in a war, dammit! We’re going to have to offend somebody!

Updated to add context for Ocean Cat

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9 Comments on “Quotes from John Adams”

  1. OC Says:

    Got any context for those quotes? Is it all from one writing, or multiple writings? Sorry, but it just doesn’t make any sense the way you quoted it.

  2. Vmaximus Says:

    O.C.
    I took several of them from here and here

  3. Sox Says:

    Geez….Vmax, you are gonna confuse OC with the FACTS….


  4. What part of it doesn’t make sense, OC?

  5. OC Says:

    OK, so you don’t have any context, no footnotes, and you’re not supplying any context of your own, or relating the quotes to…anything. They’re just a bunch of random quotes from Adams and they’re supposed to mean…what exactly?


  6. OK, so you don’t have any context, no footnotes, and you’re not supplying any context of your own, or relating the quotes to…anything. They’re just a bunch of random quotes from Adams and they’re supposed to mean…what exactly?

    Another episode of Proverbs In Real Life Theatre: This week’s episode? Casting pearls before swine.

    Tune in next week for “A senseless man does not know,Nor does a fool understand this.”

  7. Vmaximus Says:

    What context do you need for this OC? 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. (A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law 1765)

    Is that not a warning about putting faith in power?
    No footnotes? what more do I need to give you? (A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law 1765)

    Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind. Begins the Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

    Spoon feed you much?

  8. Sox Says:

    They’re just a bunch of random quotes from Adams and they’re supposed to mean…what exactly?

    The most DENSE Element in the known Universe. OceanCatium…..

  9. geoff Says:

    hey’re just a bunch of random quotes from Adams and they’re supposed to mean…what exactly?

    Just spitballing here, but maybe that Adams said a lot of things about liberty and democracy that have relevance today? That the dangers of encroachments on liberty, growth in government power, and the development of a dependent population were foreseen over 200 years ago?


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