John Adams

John Adams
John Adams
  • Born: October 30, 1735
  • Died: July 4, 1826
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: US President, Stateman, Lawyer, Author









John Adams was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as the first vice president (1789–1797) and second president of the United States (1797–1801). He was a lawyer, diplomat, and leader of American independence from Great Britain. Adams was a dedicated diarist, and correspondent with his wife and advisor Abigail, recording important historical information on the era.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Anonymous Adams Men National Republican Party
Thomas Tudor Tucker In Gravity clad, He has nought in his Head, But Visions of Nobles & Kings With Commons below, Who respectfully bow, And worship the dignified Things
Anonymous Mr. President by Three Votes.
Anonymous Old Man Eloquent
Abigail Adams Where he [her husband John Adams] is wounded, I bleed.
John Quincy Adams I had a visit from Mr. James Buchanan, Secretary of State. He told me that he had formerly visited my father at Quincy [MA], and said that in speaking to him of some of the Tories during our Revolutionary War, he said they were men of great respectability, fine talents, and excellent private character, but that they were all deplorably loyal—an epithet which Mr. Buchanan said had greatly diverted him.
John Adams Methought I heard him say, "Ay! I am fairly out, and you fairly in. See which of us will be the happiest.
John Quincy Adams 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.
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams Show yourself if only for a week ... If harm comes of it I promise never to advise you again.
Thomas Hart Benton Where could death have found him but at the post of duty.
Richard Brookhiser John Adams and John Quincy Adams had six sons. Two of these were great statesman and four were drunks. For the Adams family it was the White House or the Ale House …. Family pressure is part of what drives people to drink.
James Thomson Callender … a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness for a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman
Ralph Waldo Emerson Take egoism out and you would castrate the benefactors. Luther, Mirabeau, Napoleon, John Adams; and our nearer eminent public servants,—[Horace] Greeley, Theodore Parker, [Henry] Ward Beecher, Horace Mann, [William Lloyd] Garrison would lose their vigour.
Comte de Vergennes; Charles Gravier His has a rigidity, an arrogance, and an obstinacy that will cause him to foment a thousand unfortunate incidents.
Cyrus Griffin The British courtiers are ridiculing our situation very much and tell Mr. [John] Adams [then Secretary of State], in a sneering manner, when America shall assume some kind of government then England will speak to her.
George III Mr. Adams, you may with great truth, assure the United States that whenever they shall fulfill the treaty on their part, I, on my part, will fulfill it in all its particulars.
George III I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power.
Philip Hone Every city and town at which he [John Quincy Adams] arrives sends out its multitudes to welcome "the old man eloquent.
Ralph Izard His Rotundity
Andrew Jackson I never war against females, and it is only the base and cowardly that do.
Andrew Jackson Was there ever such a bare-faced corruption in any country before?
Thomas Jefferson He [John Adams] is vain, irritable, and a bad calculator of the force and probable effect of the motives which govern men. That is all the ill that can be said of him.
Thomas Jefferson He [the President] may be reelected from four years to four years for life …. Once in office, and possessing the military force of the union, without either the aid or check of a council, he would not be easily dethroned.
Thomas Jefferson [These appointments] laid me under the embarrassment of acting thro' men whose views were to defeat mine; or to encounter the odium of putting others in their place.
Thomas Jefferson The public will never be made to believe that an appointment of a relative is ever made on the ground of merit alone, uninfluenced by family views; nor can they ever see with approbation offices, the disposal of which they entrust to their Presidents for public purposes, divided out as family property. Mr. [John] Adams degraded himself infinitely by his conduct on this subject, as General Washington had done himself the highest honor.
Thomas Jefferson When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject; in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we were compelled to take, neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.
John Paul Jones Mr. Roundface …. A wicked and conceited upstart.
William Maclay I cannot help thinking of a monkey just put into breeches [pants]
William Maclay John Adams has neither judgment, firmness of mind, nor respectively of deportment to fill the chair of such an assembly.
William Maclay France seems travailing in the birth of freedom. Her throes and pangs of labor are violent…. Royalty, nobility, and vile pageantry by which a few of the human race lord it over and tread on the necks of the their fellow mortals, seem like to be demolished …. Ye Gods, with what indignation do I review the late attempt of some creatures among us to revive the vile machinery. Oh Adams, Adams what a wretch thou art!
James Monroe Your report! 'Tis my report. It is no report at all until I have accepted it.
Thomas Jefferson The President seems a bad edition of a Polish King
Andrew Jackson Is Mr. [John Quincy] Adams demented, or is he perversely wicked? Both, I think, and Adams ought to be confined to a hospital.
Anonymous The Madman from Massachusetts
Anonymous The Negro President
Thomas Jefferson In place of that noble love of liberty and republican government which carried us triumphantly thro’ the war, an Anglican, monarchical and aristocratical party has sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over us the substance as they have already done the forms of the British government. The main body of our citizens however remain true to their republican principles, the whole landed interest is with them, and so is a great mass of talents. Against us are the Executive, the Judiciary, two out of three branches of the legislature, all of the officers of the government, all who want to be officers, all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty, British merchants and Americans trading on British capitals, speculators and holders in the banks and public funds a contrivance invented for the purposes of corruption and for assimilating us in all things, to the rotten as well as the sound parts of the British model.
Rutherford B. Hayes I grow more conservative every day on the question of removals. On ex parte statements, I have made mistakes in removing men who, perhaps, ought to have been retained, and in appointing wrong men. Not many removals have been made. Less than any Administration since John Q. Adams. But I shall be more cautious in future; make removals only in clear cases, and appoint only on the best and fullest evidence of fitness.
Alexander Hamilton His [President John Adams] administration has already very materially disgraced and sunk the government. There are defects in his character which must inevitably continue to do this more and more.
Alexander Hamilton he will become a malcontent and possibly espouse and give additional weight to the opposition to the Government .
Thomas Jefferson In consequence of a division of opinion existing among our fellow-citizens, as to the proper constitution of our political institutions, and of the wisdom and propriety of certain measures which had been adopted by our government, that portion of our citizens who approved and advocated one class of these opinions and measures selected you as their candidate for the Presidency, and their opponents selected me. If you or myself had not been in existence, or for any other cause had not been selected, other persons would have been selected in our places, and thus the contest would have been carried on, and with the same result, except that the party which supported you would have been defeated by a greater majority, as it was known that, but for you, your party would have carried their unpopular measures much further than they did.
James Parton It becomes a conqueror to conciliate.
John Randolph It is my duty to leave nothing undone that I may lawfully do, to pull down this administration....
Thomas Jefferson The Reign of the Witches
Matthew Lyon … ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice
James Thomson Callender John Adams is a repulsive pedant, a gross hypocrite and an unprincipled oppressor…. The Adams administration is a continual tempest of malignant passions
Marquis de Lafayette; Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du There is between Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams a diversity of opinion respecting the Algerians. Adams things peace should be purchased from them. Mr. Jefferson finds it as cheap and more honorable to cruise against them. I am inclined to the latter opinion ...
Benjamin Franklin ... always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes ... absolutely out of his senses.
Benjamin Franklin He means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes and in some things absolutely out of his senses.
Quote Topics Cited
... a government of laws, not of men. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
... a motley rabble of saucy boys, Negroes, and mulattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
... avaricious to a most infamous degree; needy at the same time, having a numerous family to provide for Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
[Addressing Thomas Jefferson:] Your taste is judicious in liking better the dreams of the future than the history of the past. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
[Benjamin Franklin's life was:] ... one continued insult to good manners and decency. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
[Describing France:] Every place swarms with beggars ... because the Poor depend upon private Charity for Support, instead of being provided for by Parishes as in England or Towns in America. Welfare
… a better hand at pulling down than building. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
… a style of oratory that I never heard equaled in this or any other country Oratory, Discussion & Debate
… the difficulty in bringing our people to agree upon it has ever discouraged me. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
… too much of a talker to be a deep thinker Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
… very licentious and very delightful. Miscellaneous
A man must be sensible of the errors of the people, and upon his guard against them, and must run the risk of their displeasure sometimes, or he will never do them any good in the long run. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer the to the higher. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
A militia law requiring all men, or with very few exceptions besides cases of conscience, to be provided with arms and ammunition, to be trained at certain seasons, and requiring counties, towns, or other small districts to be provided with public stocks of always a wise institution, and, in the present circumstances of our country, indispensable. Military & Veterans
A naval power, next to the militia, is the natural defense of the United States. Defense & National Security
A people may let a king fall and still remain a people, but if a king let his people slip from him, he is no longer a king. Public Opinion & Polling
A power in the individuals who compose legislatures, to fish up wealth from the people, by nets of their own weaving ... will corrupt legislative, executive and judicial publick servants. Taxes
A result of accommodation and compromise cannot be supposed perfectly to coincide with any one’s idea of perfection. Legislating & Legislative Process
A slur upon the moral government of the world Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
A trust of the greatest magnitude is committed to this legislature and the eyes of the world are upon you. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Alexander Hamilton is a man devoid of every moral principle. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
All great changes are irksome to the human mind, especially those which are attended with great dangers and uncertain effects. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America rise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation Money, Coins & Minting ;Social Sciences
Ambition is one of the more ungovernable passions of the human heart. The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable … Power
Ambition is the Subtlest Beast of the Intellectual and Moral Field. It is wonderfully adroit in concealing itself from its owner. Human Nature
And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
As good government is an empire of laws, how shall your laws be made? In a large society, inhabiting an extensive country, it is impossible that the whole should assemble to make laws. The first necessary step, then, is to depute power from the many to a few of the most wise and good. Legislating & Legislative Process
As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion …. The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation. Religion & God
As the happiness of the people is the sole end of government, so the consent of the people is the only foundation of it ... Democracies & Republics
As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot help but laugh. Minorities & Women
At a period like the present, when momentous changes are occurring and every hour is preparing new and great events in the political world, when a spirit of war is prevalent in almost every nation with whose affairs the interests of the United States have any connection, unsafe and precarious would be our situation were we to neglect the means of maintaining our just rights. Miscellaneous
Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Be not surprised that I am turned politician. The whole town is immersed in politics. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
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. Like a Coach and six—the swiftest Horses must be slackened and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even Pace. Development & Growth
Caucus English, Languages & Bilingualism
Cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Church, State, and Nobility exhaust the People to such a degree, I have no Idea of the Possibility of deeper Wretchedness. Poverty
Count Romanzoff [of Russia] had appointed me to call upon him this morning at eleven o'clock, which I accordingly did. I found an officer with him, who immediately retired. The Count told me that the officer had been at their settlement on the northwest coast of America [the Kodiak Islands], and gave him an indifferent account of it. He was afraid they would never be able to make much of it. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide. Democracies & Republics
Democracy no better suited Spanish America than birds, beasts or fishes. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Eccentricities and irregularities are to be expected from him. They are in his character, they are visible in his eyes. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Every dollar of a bank that is issued beyond the quantity of silver and gold in the vaults represents nothing and is therefore a cheat upon somebody. Money, Coins & Minting
Every man in it is a great man—an orator, a critic, a statesman, and therefore every man upon every question must show his oratory, his criticism, and his political abilities. The consequence is that business is drawn and spun out to immeasurable length. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
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. Truth ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Miscellaneous
Fear is the foundation of most governments. Power
For if we can remove the turbulent Gallics [French], our people according to exactest computations, will in another century, become even more numerous than England itself. Development & Growth
Foreigners, when they come to trade with a nations, make themselves temporary citizens, and tacitly consent to be bound by the same laws. Foreign Trade
Frugality is a great revenue. Budgets & Budgeting
Good government is an empire of laws. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Government is instituted for the common good, for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war. War & Peace
has no equal in the world, excepting those only which are held by crowned heads; nor is the royal authority in all cases to be compared to it. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
He has honored & salaried almost every villain he could find. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
He means … to keep his hand under our chin to prevent us from drowning, but not to lift our heads out of the water. Foreign Aid
Here is a diversity of religions, educations, manners, interest, such as it would seem almost impossible to unite in one plan of conduct. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
History is not the Province of the Ladies ... Little Passions and Prejudices, want of information, false information, want of Experience, erroneous Judgment, and frequent partiality are among the Faults. Discrimination & Prejudice
How could we restrain our fishermen, the boldest men alive, from fishing in prohibited places? Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
How few aim at the good of the whole, without aiming too much at the prosperity of the parts! Legislating & Legislative Process
How few of the human race have ever enjoyed an opportunity of making an election of government for themselves and their children. Voters, Voting & Elections
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
I am almost tempted to wish he may be chosen Vice President at the next Election for there if he could do no good, he could do no harm. He has Talents I know, and Integrity I believe: but his mind is now poisoned with Passion Prejudice and Faction.
I am possessed of two separate powers; the one in esse and the other in posse. I am Vice President. In this I am nothing, but I may be everything. But I am President also of the Senate. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
I am Vice President. I am nothing but I may be everything. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
I conclude that it would be wisest for us to negotiate and pay the necessary sum without loss of time. War & Peace
I do not know what to make of a republic of 30 million atheists. Religion & God
I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits.... Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum. Religion & God
I hope that a Jewish Army 100,000 strong will to move into Palestine and reclaim it as a Judean kingdom.. Defense & National Security
I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption . . . Heaven forbid! that our Countrymen should ever be byass’d in their Choice, by unreasonable Predilections for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution, as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to Persons. The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. Let each Citizen remember, at the Moment he is offering his Vote, that he is not making a Present or a Compliment to please an Individual, or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn Trusts in human Society, for which he is accountable to God and his Country. Voters, Voting & Elections
I hope We shall e’er long renounce some of our Monarchical Corruptions, and become Republicans in Principle in Sentiment, in feeling and in Practice. In Republican Governments the Majesty is all in the Laws. They only are to be adored. Democracies & Republics
I know not whether any man in the world has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine. Leaders & Leadership
I must not write a word to you about politics, because you are a woman. Minorities & Women ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. Future ;Freedom & Liberty ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;War & Peace
I pray to 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. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
I really wish the Jews again in Judea, an independent nation. States. Nations & Nationhood
I will never be so merely to obtain the reputation of a cunning politician, a character I neither admire nor esteem. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
If that suffers in its credit, the Cause must suffer. If that fails, the Cause must fail. Money, Coins & Minting
If the ancients drank wine as our people drink rum and cider, it is no wonder we hear of so many possessed with devils Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
If there is one certain truth to be collected from the history of all ages, it is this: that the people's rights and liberties, and the democratic mixture in a constitution, can never be preserved without a strong executive, or, in other words without separating the executive power from the legislature. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
If they say they will try me, they must try me. If they say they will punish me, they must punish me. But if they say that in peace and mercy they will spare me expulsion, I disdain and cast away their mercy, and I ask if they will come to such a trial and expel me. I defy them. I have constituents to go to, and they will have something to say if this House expels me, nor will it be long before the gentlemen will see me here again. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
If this be true, General Pinckney has kept them all for himself and cheated me out of my two. Miscellaneous
If we carefully consider what our constitution is, we will conclude that it is, in fact, a limited monarchy. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
If we take a Vessel of theirs, we get nothing but a bad Vessel fit only to burn, a few Guns and a few Barbarians who we may hang or enslave if We will, and the Unfeeling Tyrants whose Subjects they are will think will think no more of it than if We had killed so many CatterPillars upon an Apple tree. When they take a Vessel of ours, they not only get a rich prize, but they enslave the Men and if there is among them a Man of any Rank or Note, they demand most exorbitant ransoms for them … congress will never, or at least not for years, take any such resolution, and in the meantime our trade and honor suffers beyond calculation. We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever. War & Peace ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
In another century all Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us. Development & Growth
In every assembly, members will obtain an influence by noise not sense; by meanness, not greatness. Legislating & Legislative Process
In general, our generals were out-generalled. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
In politics the middle way is none at all. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Miscellaneous
In some countries the laboring poor were called freemen and in others they were called slaves but that the difference of the state was imaginary only…. the condition of the laboring poor in most countries, that of the fishermen particularly in the Northern states, is as abject as that of slaves. Taxes ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
In that way lies madness. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
In vain are Schools, Accademics and universities instituted, if loose Principles and licentious habits are impressed upon Children in their earliest years…How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality and Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn that their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers. Families, Children & Parenting
In Virginia all Geese are Swans Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Independence now and independence forever. Miscellaneous
Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation. Power
Inequality of Mind and Body are so established by God Almighty in his Constitution of Human Nature that no art or policy can ever plain them down to a level. Equality & Equal Opportunity
It can’t be any other than madness to commence hostilities before we have established resources on a sure plan for certain and effectual military supplies. Men in that case will not be wanting. War & Peace
It is interest alone which does it, and it is interest alone which can be trusted. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment—Independence now and Independence forever! Independence now and forever! Independence forever! Freedom & Liberty
It is not only [the juror's] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power. Power
It is with much reluctance that I am obliged to look upon him as a man whose mind is warped by prejudice and so blinded by ignorance as to be unfit for the office he holds. However wise and scientific as philosopher, as a politician he is a child and a dupe of party. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
It shall be the duty of the legislators and magistrates in all future periods of this commonwealth to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them… Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men…. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [creating the U. S. Constitution] had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
Jealousies and rivalries have been my themes, and checks and balances as their antidotes, till I am ashamed to repeat the words. Intergovernmental Relations
Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially for the lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Let us above all things avoid as much as possible entangling ourselves with their wars and politics … America has been the sport of European wars and politics long enough. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among people. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Methought I heard him say, "Ay! I am fairly out, and you fairly in. See which of us will be the happiest. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Modesty is a virtue that can never thrive in public …. A man must be his own trumpeter—he must write or dictate paragraphs of praise in the newspapers; he must dress, have a retinue and equipage; he must ostentatiously publish to the world his own writings with his name, make the mob stare and gape, and perpetuate his fame. Public Relations & Image
Mr. Jefferson has reason to reflect upon himself. How he will get rid of his remorse in his retirement, I know not. He must know that he leaves the government infinitely worse than he found it, and that from his own error or ignorance. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
My fundamental axiom of government is never to trust the lamb to the wolf. Power
Negro slavery is an evil of colossal magnitude. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
never had interviews with the gods or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
No man who ever held the office of President would ever congratulate a friend on obtaining it. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion. Religion & God
Old Muttonhead Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
One day the United States will form the greatest empire in the world. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
One sailor will do us more good than two soldiers. A navy is our natural and only defense. Military & Veterans
Otis was a flame of fire . . . then and there the child, Independence, was born States. Nations & Nationhood
Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives. Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
Our plan was to have no Interest, Connection or Embarrassment in the Politicks or Wars of Europe, if we could avoid it. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Our pure, virtuous public-spirited, federative republic will last forever, govern the globe and introduce the perfection of man. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Patience. Patience. Patience. The first, and last, and the middle virtue of a politician. Miscellaneous
Penitence must precede pardon. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Politics is a labyrinth without a clue. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Popularity was never my mistress, nor was I ever, or shall I ever be a popular man. Public Opinion & Polling
Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. Freedom & Liberty
Power always follows Property. This I believe to be as infallible a Maxim, in Politicks, as, that Action and Re-action are equal, is in Mechanicks. Nay I believe We may advance one Step farther and affirm that the Ballance of Power in a Society, accompanies the Ballance of Property in Land. The only possible Way then of preserving the Ballance of Power on the side of equal Liberty and public Virtue, is to make the Acquisition of Land easy to every Member of Society: to make a Division of the Land into Small Quantities, So that the Multitude may be possessed of landed Estates. If the Multitude is possessed of the Ballance of real Estate, the Multitude will have the Ballance of Power, and in that Case the Multitude will take Care of the Liberty, Virtue, and Interest of the Multitude in all Acts of Government. Power
Pubic business must be done. It will be done one way or another. If wise men refuse it, others will not. If honest men refuse it, others will not. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
Public business … must always be done by somebody…. If wise men decline it, others will not; if honest men refuse it, others will not. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
Public life is like a long journey, in which we have immense tracks of waste countries to pass through for a very few grand and beautiful prospects. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
Religion, superstition, oaths, education, laws, all give way before passions, interest, and power. Power
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.
Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my heart and my hand to this vote. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
Soldiers quartered in a populous town will always occasion two mobs where they prevent one. They are wretched conservators of the peace. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right. Miscellaneous
That I have no friendship for Franklin I avow. That I am incapable of having any with a man of his moral sentiments I avow. As far as fate shall compel me to sit with him in public affairs, I shall treat him with decency and perfect impartiality. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
That Washington was not a scholar is certain. That he is too illiterate, unlearned, unread for his station is equally beyond dispute. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The [American] continent is a kind of whispering gallery and acts and speeches are reverberated from New York in all directions. Public Opinion & Polling
The [American] Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The bastard brat of a Scotch pedlar. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The commerce of the United States is essential, if not to their existence, at least to their comfort, their growth, prosperity, and happiness. The genius, character, and habits of the people are highly commercial. Their cities have been formed and exist upon commerce. Our agriculture, fisheries, arts, and manufactures are connected with and depend upon it. In short, commerce has made this country what it is, and it can not be destroyed or neglected without involving the people in poverty and distress. Business, Commerce & Finance
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. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The declaration that our People are hostile to a government made by themselves, for themselves, and conducted by themselves, is an insult. Democracies & Republics
The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity. Religion & God
The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The efficacy of pageantry [is] indispensably necessary to give dignity and energy to government. Miscellaneous
The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries. Government ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The fate of this government depends absolutely upon raising it above the state governments. Intergovernmental Relations
The first thing to be done in Paris is always to send for a tailor, a perukemaker and a shoemaker, for this nation has established such a domination over fashion that neither clothes, wigs nor shoes made in any other place will do in Paris. Diplomacy & Diplomats
The frightful engines of ecclesiastical councils, of diabolical malice, and Calvinistical good-nature never failed to terrify me exceedingly whenever I thought of preaching. Religion & God
The great question will forever remain, who shall work? Miscellaneous
The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The history of our Revolution will be one continued lie from one end to the other. History
The Indians are known to conduct their wars so entirely without faith and humanity that it would bring eternal infamy on the Ministry … if they should excite these savages to war … Minorities & Women
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. Power
The legislative, executive, and judicial power shall be placed in separate departments. Intergovernmental Relations
The Manners of Women, are the surest Criterion by which to determine whether a Republican Government is practicable in a Nation or not. Management & Managing Government
The manufacture of arms within the United States still invites the attention of the National Legislature. At a considerable expense to the public this manufacture has been brought to such a state of maturity as, with continued encouragement, will supersede the necessity of future importations from foreign countries. Miscellaneous
The more elegance the less virtue in all times and countries. Miscellaneous
The more one reads, the more one sees that one has to read. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. Power
The only moral Foundation of Government is the Consent of the People. But to what an Extent Shall We carry this Principle? Shall We Say, that every Individual of the Community, old and young, male and female, as well as rich and poor, must consent, expressly to every Act of Legislation? No, you will say. This is impossible. How then does the Right arise in the Majority to govern the Minority, against their Will? Whence arises the Right of the Men to govern Women, without their Consent? Whence the Right of the old to bind the Young, without theirs. Democracies & Republics
The People will have unfounded Power. And the People are extremely addicted to Corruption and Venality, as well as the Great. I am not without Apprehensions from this Quarter. Corruption
The priesthood has in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. Religion & God
The Puritans' greatest concern seems to have been to establish a government of the church more consistent with the Scriptures, and a government of the state more agreeable to the dignity of human nature, than any they had seen in Europe, and to transmit such a government down to their posterity, with the means of securing and preserving it forever. Religion & God
The purpose of government is to obtain the greatest quantity of human happiness. Miscellaneous
The representative assembly (House of Representatives) . . . should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people.
The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. Memorials, Monuments, Medals, Statues & Buildings
The situation of the principal powers of Europe are singular and portentous. Connected with some by treaties and with all by commerce, no important event there can be indifferent to us. Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
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. Trust ;Power ;Freedom & Liberty
There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great political parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures in opposition to each other. Political Parties & Machines
There must be one, indeed, who is the last and lowest of the human species.
There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. Democracies & Republics
They worry one another like mastiffs, scrambling for rank and pay like apes for nuts. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
This day I learned that the caucus club meets at certain times in the garret of Tom Dawes, the adjutant of the Boston regiment.... There they smoke tobacco till you cannot see from one end of the room to another. There they drink flip, I suppose, and there they choose a moderator who puts questions to the vote regularly; and selectmen, assessors, collectors, firewards, and representatives are regularly chosen before they are chosen in the town [of Boston]. Political Parties & Machines
This is so eccentric a colony—sometimes so hot, sometimes so cold; now so high and then so low—that I know not what to say about it or what to expect from it. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
This is the only instance I have ever known of a man of sound sense and real genius who was an enemy of Christianity. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!’ 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. Religion & God
Unfaithfulness in public stations is deeply criminal …. There is too much corruption even at this infant stage of our republic. Virtue is not in fashion. Vice is not infamous. Corruption
Universal and perpetual peace appear to me no more or less than everlasting passive obedience and non-resistance. The human flock would be fleeced or butchered by one or a few. War & Peace
Upon common theaters … the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! …. If conscience disapproves, the loudest applause of the world are of little value. Public Opinion & Polling
Upon the whole, if we allow two thirds of the people to have been with us in the revolution, is not the allowance ample? Are not two thirds of the nation now with the administration? Divided we have ever been, and ever must be. Two thirds always had and will have more difficulty to struggle with the one third than with all our foreign enemies. States. Nations & Nationhood
Was there or will there ever be a nation whose individuals were all equal, in natural and acquired qualities, in virtues, talents, and riches? The answer in all mankind must be in the negative. Equality & Equal Opportunity
We are in the midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
We cannot guarantee success [in the war], but we can deserve it. War & Peace
We cannot in this country conceive that there are men in England so infatuated as seriously suspect the Congress, or people here, of a wish to erect ourselves into an independent state…. I have never met one individual so inclined. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
We have been told that…Britain is the mother and we are the children, that a filial duty and submission is due from us to her and that we ought to doubt our own judgment and presume that she is right, even when she seems to us to shake the foundations of government. But admitting we are children, have not children a right to complain when their parents are attempting to break their limbs, to administer poison, or to sell them to enemies for slaves? States. Nations & Nationhood
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or galantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Government ;Democracies & Republics ;Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not. Miscellaneous
We not ought to fight them at all, unless we are determined to fight them forever. War & Peace
We should have mastered Quebec and been in possession of Canada. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
What will the soldiers and sailors, what will the common people say to George Washington, President of the United States? They will despise him to all eternity. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
When annual elections end, there slavery begins. Voters, Voting & Elections ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
When I observe into what inconsistent absurdities those persons run who make speculative, metaphysical religion a matter of importance, I am fully determined never to puzzle myself in the mazes of religious discussion, [and] to content myself with practicing the dictates of God and reason so far as I can judge for myself… Religion & God
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. Freedom & Liberty
When philosophic reason is clear and certain by intuition or necessary induction, no subsequent revelation supported by prophecies or miracles can supersede it. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
When the legislature is corrupted, the people are undone. Corruption
Where annual elections end, there tyranny begins.. Voters, Voting & Elections
Where is the man to be found at this day, when we see … bishops with indifference. Who will believe that the apprehension of Episcopy contributed 50 years ago, as much as any other cause to arouse the attention, not only of the inquiring mind, but of the common people, and urge them to close thinking on the constitutional authority of Parliament over the colonies. Religion & God
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. Management & Managing Government ;Social Sciences
Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. Freedom & Liberty
You are afraid of the one, I, of the few.... You are apprehensive of monarchy, I, of aristocracy. Leaders & Leadership
You are apprehensive of monarchy; I of aristocracy. I would therefore have given more power to the President and less to the Senate. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
You have turned me out; you have turned me out. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
You may depend on being the Contempt, the Scorn and the Derision of all Europe, while you call your national Conductor, General or President. You may depend on another Thing. The State Government will ever be uppermost in America in the Minds of our own People, till you give a superior Title to your first national Magistrate. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Your commission constitutes you commander of all the forces … you are vested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the service. Military & Veterans
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. Government
Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society. Society
All great nations inevitably end up committing suicide.
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. Nature
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. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases. Society ;Power
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.
Genius is sorrow's child.
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, poor creature, worn out with scribbling for my bread and my liberty, low in spirits and weak in health, must leave others to wear the laurels which I have sown, others to eat the bread which I have earned. A common case. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power. 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.
Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. Power
Power always thinks... that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws. Power ;Religion & God
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 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 furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals.
The happiness of society is the end of government. Happiness & Unhappiness ;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.
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. Hope ;Freedom & Liberty