John Adams – Religion and Morality alone can establish Freedom
The book John Adams by David Mcculloughis one of my all-time favorite books. It really gives an excellent feel of what the era was like and the difficulties Mr. Adams and the other founders had in forming our nation. I highly recommend it.
Quotes I like from John Adams
Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, 1854)
[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.
(Vol. IX, p. 401, to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776)
[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
(Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798)
The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.
(Vol. VI, p. 9)
John Adams to William Plumer.Quincy, March 28, 1813.
Dear Sir, – You enquire, in your kind letter of the 19th whether, “every Member of Congress did on the 4th of July 1776 in fact cordially approve of the declaration of Independence”?
They who were then Members all signed it, and as I could not see their hearts, it would be hard for me to say that they did not approve it: but as far as I could penetrate, the intricate internal foldings of their Souls, I then believed, and have not since altered my Opinion, that there were several who signed with regret, and several others with many doubts and much lukewarmness. The Measure had been upon the carpet for Months, and obstinately opposed from day to day. Majorities were constantly against it. For many days the Majority depended on Mr. Hews of North Carolina. While a Member, one day was speaking and reading documents from all the Colonies to prove that the Public Opinion, the general Sense of all was in favour of the Measure, when he came to North Carolina and produced letters and public proceedings which demonstrated that the Majority of that Colony were in favour of it, Mr Hews who had hitherto constantly voted against it, started suddenly upright, and lifting up both his Hands to Heaven as if he had been in a trance, cry’d out “It is done! and I will abide by it.” I would give more for a perfect Painting of the terror and horror upon the Faces of the Old Majority at that critical moment than for the best Piece of Raphaelle. The Question however was eluded by an immediate Motion for Adjournment. The Struggle in Congress was long known abroad. Some Members who foresaw that the point would be carried, left the House and went home to avoid voting in the Affirmative or Negative. Pennsilvania and New Jersey recalled all their Delegates who had voted against Independence and sent new ones expressly to vote for it. The last debate but one was the most copious and the most animated; but the Question was now evaded by a Motion to postpone it to another day, some Members however declaring that if the Question should be now demanded, they should now vote for it, but they wished for a day or two more to consider of it. When that day arrived some of the New Members desired to hear the Arguments for and against the Measure. When these were summarily recapitulated The Question was put and carried. There were no Yeas and Nays in those times. A Committee was appointed to draw a Declaration, when reported underwent an Abundance of Criticism and Alteration: but when finally accepted all those Members who had voted against Independence now declared they would sign it and support it.
The Appointment of General Washington to the Command in 1775 of an Army in Cambridge, consisting altogether of New England men, over the head of Officers of their own Flesh and Choice, a most hazardous step, was another instance of Apparent Unanimity and real regret in nearly one half. But this history is too long for this letter.
The Taxes must be laid and the War supported.
I have nothing from My Son since 28. Oct. I know not how we shall ever get him home: though that is the most anxious wish of my heart. Pray write him as often as you can.
I regret the change of hands, in N.H. at this juncture very much. With great respect I am, dear Sir, your Friend and Servant,John Adams.Massachusetts Historical Society. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 48. Massachusetts Historical Society. 1915
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.