John Adams – Our Constitution Was Made Only For A Moral And Religious People

My Notes

The letter below is from John Adams to officers in the Militia of Massachusetts. Mr. Adams begins the second paragraph stating that the country is still in an untainted state. It is his feeling that we will have “strongest reason to rejoice” in what God has given us as long as we remain free from the “manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world.” Then Mr. Adams warns that if we start to imitate other nations we will become “the most miserable habitation in the world.”

I particularly note his mention that the temptation to act similar to other nations comes in “the language of justice and moderation.” This is still very true today. Other nations or even the UN want us to be more open and tolerant while ignoring the “iniquity and extravagance” and destruction that may come.

Then Mr. Adams makes some poignant statements about the form or our Constitution. He says, “we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” He goes on to say, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” It seems that Mr Adams believed that our form of government was only meant for a self governed people; a people who know how to live morally right. This also fits with the feelings of Richard Henry Lee who said, “the experience of all times shows religion to be the guardian of morals.”

Quotes I like from

TO THE OFFICERS OF THE FIRST BRIGADE OF THE THIRD
DIVISION OF THE MILITIA OF MASSACHUSETTS
11 October, 1798

      GENTLEMEN
   I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier-General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, animated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on which it was adopted.
   While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, 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.
   An address from the officers commanding two thousand eight hundred men, consisting of such substantial citizens as are able and willing at their own expense completely to arm and clothe themselves in handsome uniforms, does honor to that division of the militia which has done so much honor to its country.
   Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly repeated on that venerable spot, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.

JOHN ADAMS.      

John Adams, Charles Francis Adams. The works of John Adams, second president of the United States: with a life of the author, notes and illustrations, Volume 9. Little, Brown and Company. 1854.

Brief Biography

John Adams, (father of John Quincy Adams; grandfather of Charles Francis Adams; cousin of Samuel Adams; father-in-law of William Stephens Smith), a Delegate from Massachusetts and a Vice President and 2d President of the United States; born in Braintree, Mass., October 19, 1735; graduated from Harvard College in 1755; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1758 and commenced practice in Suffolk County; joined the Sons of Liberty and argued against the Stamp Act; was elected to represent Boston in the general court in 1768; Member of the Continental Congress 1774-1777; signed the Declaration of Independence and proposed George Washington, of Virginia, for General of the American Army; became a member of the Board of War, but resigned to accept appointment as commissioner to the Court of France; Minister Plenipotentiary to Holland 1782; first Minister to England 1785-1788; elected in 1788 as the first Vice President of the United States with George Washington as President; reelected in 1792 and served from April 21, 1789, to March 3, 1797; elected President of the United States and served from March 4, 1797, to March 3, 1801; delegate to the constitutional convention of Massachusetts 1820; died in Quincy, Mass., July 4, 1826; interment under the old First Congregational Church, now called the United First Parish Church.

1 Comment

  1. Hello, your articles here John Adams – Our Constitution Was Made Only For A Moral And Religious People | HistoricWords | American History | Founding Fathers | Politics | Faith | Quotes to write well, thanks for sharing!

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