Founding Father Quotes

John Adams

John Adams

United States Founding Father
(1735 - 1826)

John Adams (October 30, 1735 - July 4, 1826) was an American politician and the second President of the United States (1797 - 1801), after being the first Vice President (1789 - 1797) for two terms. He is regarded as one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States.


Religion: Unitarian

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Quotes by John Adams


Men must be ready, they must pride themselves and be happy to sacrifice their private pleasures, passions and interests, nay, their private friendships and dearest connections, when they stand in competition with the rights of society.

-= letter to Mercy Warren, April 16, 1776 =-

National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.

-= letter to James Lloyd, January, 1815 =-

Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, and measure in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are intimately interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of a revolution the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations

-= letter to William Cushing, June 9, 1776 =-

Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be... Our American Chivalry is the worst in the world. It has no Laws, no bounds, no definitions; it seems to be all a Caprice.

-= letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 17, 1826 =-

Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions.

-= letter to Mercy Warren, April 16, 1776 =-

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

-= letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814 =-

That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangements of the powers of society, or, in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the laws, is the best of republics.

-= Thoughts on Government, 1776 =-

The deliberate union of so great and various a people in such a place, is without all partiality or prejudice, if not the greatest exertion of human understanding, the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.

-= quoted in a letter from Rufus King to Theophilus Parsons, February 20, 1788 =-

The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and every blessing of society depend so much upon an upright and skillful administration of justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, and both should be checks upon that.

-= Thoughts on Government, 1776 =-

The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what names you please, sigh and groan and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and curse, but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America.

-= letter to Patrick Henry, June 3, 1776 =-

The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families.... How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers?

-= Diary, June 2, 1778 =-

The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now. They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.

-= letter to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776 =-

The rich, the well-born, and the able, acquire and influence among the people that will soon be too much for simple honesty and plain sense, in a house of representatives. The most illustrious of them must, therefore, be separated from the mass, and placed by themselves in a senate; this is, to all honest and useful intents, an ostracism.

-= A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, vol 1, 1787 =-

There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; for the true idea of a republic is "an empire of laws, and not of men." That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangement of the powers of society, or in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the law, is the best of republics.

-= Thoughts on Government, 1776 =-

They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men.

-= Novanglus No. 7, March 6, 1775 =-


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