John Adams Quotes

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.

A government of laws, and not of men.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Fear is the foundation of most governments.

Genius is sorrow’s child.

Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

In politics the middle way is none at all.

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

Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.

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

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

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

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

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak.

Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.

Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.

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

The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a theatrical show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that… and all the glory of it.

The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries.

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.

The happiness of society is the end of government.

The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.

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.

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.

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 standstill – little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.