John Adams (October 30, 1735 - July 4, 1826) was the second president of the United States (1797–1801), having earlier served as the first vice president of the United States. An American Founding Father, Adams was a statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate of American independence from Great Britain. Well educated, he was an Enlightenment political theorist who promoted republicanism, as well as a strong central government, and wrote prolifically about his often seminal ideas, both in published works and in letters to his wife and key adviser Abigail Adams, as well as to other Founding Fathers. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
A pen is certainly an excellent instrument to fix a man's attention and to inflame his ambition.
Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery of party, faction, and division of society.
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.
But America is a great, unwieldy Body. Its Progress must be slow. It is like a large Fleet sailing under Convoy. The fleetest Sailors must wait for the dullest and slowest.
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence.
Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.
Government has no right to hurt the hair of an Atheist for his Opinions. Let him have a care of his Practices.
Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.
Human nature with all its infirmities and depravation is still capable of great things
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
I read my eyes out and can't read half enough... The more one reads the more one sees we have to read.
In politics the middle way is none at all.
It is folly to anticipate evils, and madness to create imaginary ones.
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.
Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.
Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.
No man is entirely free from weakness and imperfection in this life. Men of the most exalted genius and active minds are generally most perfect slaves to the love of fame. They sometimes descend to as mean tricks and artifices in pursuit of honor or reputation as the miser descends to in pursuit of gold.
No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it. He will make one man ungrateful, and a hundred men his enemies, for every office he can bestow.
Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.
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.
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.
The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a Theatrical Show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that; i.e. all the Glory of it.
The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries.
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.
The middle way is no way at all. If we finally fail in this great and glorious contest, it will be by bewildering ourselves in groping for the middle way.
The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.
The proposition, that the people are the best keepers of their own liberties, is not true; they are the worst conceivable; they are no keepers at all; they can neither judge, act, think, or will, as a political body.
The revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.
There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.
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.
There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
These bickerings of opposite parties, and their mutual reproaches, their declamations, their sing-song, their triumphs and defiances, their dismals and prophecies, are all delusion.
Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.
Tyranny can scarcely be practised upon a virtuous and wise people.
Virtue is not always amiable.
We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form.
When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.
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.