Founding Father Quotes

A collection of quotes from the authors of the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution of the United States.
John

John Adams

United States Founding Father(1735 - 1826)
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Events in the life of John Adams

Date

Event


1735 10/19   Birth of John Adams
1764 10/25   John Adams married Abigail Smith
1778 02/15   John Adams sails to France
1779 09/27   John Adams is appointed to negotiate peace with England.
1789    John Adams elected Vice President
1797    John Adams elected President
1797 03/04   John Adams Inaugural Address  [URL]
1826 07/04   Death of John Adams at Quincy, Massachusetts
John Adams Signature

John Adams Biography [Text Version]

John Adams was born at Quincy, then part of the ancient town of Braintree, on the 19th day of October, old style, 1735. He was a descendant of the Puritans, his ancestors having early emigrated from England, and settled in Massachusetts. Discovering early a strong love of reading and of knowledge, proper care was taken by his father to provide for his education. His youthful studies were prosecuted in Braintree, under Mr. Marsh, a gentleman whose fortune it was to instruct several children, who in manhood were destined to act a conspicuous part in the scenes of the revolution.

He became a member of Harvard College, 1751, and was graduated in course in 1755: with what degree of reputation he left the university is not now precisely known; we only know that he was distinguished in a class of which the Dr. Hemmenway was a member, who bore honorable testimony to the openness and decision of his character, and to the strength and activity of his mind.

Having chosen the law for his profession, he commenced and prosecuted its studies under the direction of Samuel Putnam, a barrister of eminence at Worcester. By him he was introduced to the celebrated Jeremy Gridley, then attorney general of the province of Massachusetts Bay. At the first interview they became friends; Gridley at once proposed Mr. Adams for admission to the bar of Suffolk, and took him into special favor. Soon after his admission, Mr. Gridley led his young friend into a private chamber with an air of secrecy, and, pointing to a book case, said, "Sir, there is the secret of my eminence, and of which you may avail yourself as you please." It was a pretty good collection of treatises of the civil law. In this place Mr. Adams spent his days and nights, until he had made himself master of the principles of the code.

From Early life, the bent of his mind was towards politics, a propensity which the state of the times, if it did not create, doubtless very much strengthened. While a resident at Worcester, he wrote a letter of which the following is an extract. The letter was dated October 12, 1755.

"Soon after the reformation, a few people came over into this new world for conscience sake: perhaps this apparently trivial incident may transfer the great seat of empire into America. It looks likely to me; for, if we can remove the turbulent Gallicks, our people according to the exactest[sic] computations, will in another century become more numerous than England itself. Should this be the case, since we have, I may say, all the naval shores of the nation in our hands, it will be easy to obtain a mastery of the seas; and the united force of all Europe will not be able to subdue us. The only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us.

"Be not surprised that I am turned politician. This whole town is immersed in politics. The interests of nations and all the dira of war make the subject of every conversation. I sit and hear, and after having been led through a maze of sage observations, I sometimes retire, and lay things together, and form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these reveries you have read."

This prognostication of independence, and of so vast an increase of numbers, and of naval force, as might defy all Europe, is remarkable, especially as coming from so young a man, and so early in the history of the century. It is more remarkable that its author should have lived to see fulfilled to the letter, what would have seemed to others at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. His early political feelings were thus strongly American, and from this ardent attachment to his native soil he never departed.

SOURCE: Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, 1829 by Rev. Charles A. Goodrich

More Information about John Adams

Religion: Unitarian
John Adams on Wikipedia | Amazon | Google

Documents from our document library

Biography for John Adams

((1735 - 1826)) Biography for John Adams
Document Type: (File Size: 3.71K)
John Adams

John Adams Inaugural Address

(03/04/1797) The Inaugural address of President John Adams
Document Type: (File Size: 13.62K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 1

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 16.21K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 2

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 23.00K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 3

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 33.45K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 4

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 30.27K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 5

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 48.83K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 6

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 46.88K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 7

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 46.88K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 8

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 44.92K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 9

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 22.46K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 10

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 19.53K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 11

(1774) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 23.44K)
John Adams

Novanglus Essay Number 12

(1775) The Navanglus letters by John Adams. A series of letters published in the Boston Gazette prior to the start of the armed conflict in America. They were written in 1774-1775.
Document Type: (File Size: 19.53K)
John Adams

Documents from The Digital Public Library of America

There are currenlty are 7309 items in the DLPA for John Adams, only 25 are displayed here.

Adams
Date: 1880-1880
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
[John Adams]
Date: ca. 1880
Type: image
Portrait.
Brigham Young University - Harold B. Lee Library
John Adams
Date: 1929
Type: text
Utah State Archives
John Adams
Date: 1962
Type: text
University of California
John Adams
Date: 1885 [1884]
Type: text
Series title also at head of t.-p.
University of Michigan
John Adams /
Date: [1917?]
Type: text
Originally published in 1884.
Cornell University
John Adams
Date: 1876-1876
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
[John Adams.]
Date: 1876-1876
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
[John Adams.]
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
[John Adams.]
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Date: ca. 1850?
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Date: 1827-1827
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Date: 1860-1860
Type: image
Wallach Division: Print Collection. The New York Public Library
John Adams
Date: 1843-1844
Type: image
Smithsonian American Art Museum
John Adams
Date: c. 1800
Type: image
National Portrait Gallery
John Adams
Type: image
National Portrait Gallery
See all the items for "John Adams" at the Digital Public Library of America

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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