Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

John Adams

2nd President of the United States

"All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue."

"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."

"I cannot conceive that God could make such a species as the human merely to live and die on the earth. If I did not believe in the future state I should believe in no God."

"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."

"An ounce of mother wit is worth a pound of clergy."

"Grief drives men into habits of serious reflection, sharpens the understanding and softens the heart."

"Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

"The mind must be loose."

"You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket."

"In my many years, I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is congress."

"The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of the rich men in the country."

"Mankind [is] naturally divided into three sorts; one third of them are animated at the first appearance of danger, and will press forward to meet and examine it; another third are alarmed by it, but will neither advance nor retreat, till they know the nature of it, but stand to meet it. The remaining third will run or fly upon the first thought of it."

"As the happiness of the people is the sole end of government, so the consent of the people is the only foundation of it, in reason, morality, and the natural fitness of things."

"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."

"Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society."

"Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power."

"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."

"Fear is the foundation of most governments."

"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 happiness of society is the end of government. "

"Power must never be trusted without a check."

"There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live. "

"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt."

"Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates in all future periods of this commonwealth to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them, especially the university at Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings, sincerity, good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people. "

"But all provisions that He (God) has made for the gratification of our senses…are much inferior to the provision, the wonderful provision that He has made for the gratification of our nobler powers of intelligence and reason. He has given us reason to find out the truth, and the real design and true end of our existence."

"Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom."

"Always stand on principle....even if you stand alone. "