John Adams was born on October, 30, 1735. Adams enrolled in Harvard University at age 16 and went on to teach school children and study law. Adams was instrumental in laying the foundation for the American Revolution. In 1783, he brokered the peace treaty between America and Britain that ended the American Revolution. Adams served as the nation’s first Vice President and second President.
Benjamin Rush wrote of Adams in 1776: “This illustrious patriot has not his superior, scarcely his equal for abilities and virtue on the whole of the continent of America.”
Sadly, Adams many accomplishments during the Revolutionary period are clouded by his signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.
In honor of his birthday and contributions to the United States, I thought I’d spotlight some of my favorite quotes from Adams –
(1) “The Science of Government it is my Duty to study, more than all other Studies Sciences: the Art of Legislation and Administration and Negotiation, ought to take Place, indeed to exclude in a manner all other Arts. I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.”
(2) “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
(3) “Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
(4) “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.”
(5) “Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
(6) “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
(7) “It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.”
(8) “The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of all the rich men in the country.”
(9) “Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”
(10) “The die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon. Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country, was my unalterable determination.”
(11) “[L]iberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Marker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
(12) “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 Superiour to all private Passions. 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.”