John Adams Quotes

What are your favorite John Adams quotes?

John Adams was an attorney, writer, politician and statesman who served as the second president of the United States of America from 1797 to 1801. Before becoming president, John Adams served a diplomat in Europe and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris that was signed in 1783.

President John Adams was also among the men who are recognized as the founding fathers of America. Among them were great leaders like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas JeffersonJames MadisonAlexander HamiltonJames Monroe and George Washington.

As a writer, John Adams published books and letters like Thoughts on Government, Draft of the Declaration of Independence, Discourses on Davila, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law and many others.

Here are some famous John Adams quotes on government, freedom, liberty, declaration of independence, 4th of July, constitution, Christianity, religion, democracy, leadership and America:

John Adams I Must Study Quote

John Adams Quotes: I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy

1. I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

John Adams

Famous John Adams Quotes

Famous John Adams Quotes

2. You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. -John Adams

3. To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse. -John Adams

4. Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order. -John Adams

5. I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read. -John Adams

6. Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it. (Letter to his son and 6th US president, John Quincy Adams, November 13 1816). -John Adams

7. I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading. -John Adams

8. Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write. -John Adams

9. It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

John Adams

10. Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war. -John Adams

11. Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws. -John Adams

12. 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. -John Adams

13. The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough. -John Adams

14. 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. -John Adams

15. Be not intimidated…nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice. -John Adams

16. Daughter! Get you an honest Man for a Husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent. Regard the Honor and moral Character of the Man more than all other Circumstances. Think of no other Greatness but that of the soul, no other Riches but those of the Heart. An honest, Sensible humane Man, above all the Littlenesses of Vanity, and Extravagances of Imagination, laboring to do good rather than be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in a modest Simplicity clearly within his Means and free from Debts or Obligations, is really the most respectable Man in Society, makes himself and all about him the most happy. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Government

John Adams Quotes On Government

17. A government of laws, and not of men. -John Adams

18. Fear is the foundation of most governments. -John Adams

19The happiness of society is the end of government. -John Adams

20. There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. -John Adams

21. Government has no right to hurt a hair on the head of an Atheist for his Opinions. Let him have a care of his Practices.

John Adams

22. The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries. -John Adams

23. The divine science of government is the science of social happiness, and the blessings of society depend entirely on the constitutions of government. -John Adams

24. The form of government which you admire, when its principles are pure is admirable indeed. It is productive of every Thing which is great and excellent among men. But its principles are as easily destroyed as human nature is corrupted. Such a government is only to be supported by pure religion or Austere morals. -John Adams

25. 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 is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other. -John Adams

26. 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, as both should be checks upon that. -John Adams

27. Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Freedom And Liberty

John Adams Quotes On Freedom And Liberty

28. Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people. -John Adams

30. Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. -John Adams

31. The way to secure liberty is to place it in the people’s hands, that is, to give them the power at all times to defend it in the legislature and in the courts of justice. -John Adams

32. Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.

John Adams

33. Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty. -John Adams

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

35. That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience. -John Adams

36. When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more. -John Adams

37. Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. Aristotle speaks plainly to this purpose, saying, ‘that the institution of youth should be accommodated to that form of government under which they live; forasmuch as it makes exceedingly for the preservation of the present government, whatsoever it be. -John Adams

John Adams Declaration of Independence (4th of July) Quotes

John Adams Declaration of Independence (4th of July) Quotes

38. July 4th ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion. -John Adams

39. It will be celebrated… with pomp and parade… bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other. -John Adams

40. The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a theatrical show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that… and all the glory of it.

John Adams

41. Yesterday, the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. -John Adams

42. The date will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Constitution

John Adams Quotes On Constitution

43. We have no Constitution which functions in the absence of a moral people. -John Adams

44. The Constitution is the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen. -John Adams

45. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. -John Adams

46. It already appears, that there must be in every society of men superiors and inferiors, because God has laid in the constitution and course of nature the foundations of the distinction. -John Adams

47. A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.

John Adams

48. 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. -John Adams

49. There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution. -John Adams

50. A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Christianity

John Adams Quotes On Christianity

51. The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation. -John Adams

52. This is my religion…joy and exaltation in my own existence…so go ahead and snarl…bite…howl, you Calvinistic divines and all you who say I am no Christian. I say you are not Christian. -John Adams

53. If the Christian religion, as I understand it, or as you understand it, should maintain its ground, as I believe it will, yet Platonic, Pythagoric, Hindoo, and cabalistical Christianity, which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1500 years, has received a mortal wound, of which the monster must finally die. Yet so strong is his constitution, that he may endure for centuries before he expires.

John Adams

54. Conclude not from all this that I have renounced the Christian religion. . . . Far from it. I see in every page something to recommend Christianity in its purity, and something to discredit its corruptions. . . . The ten commandments and the sermon on the mount contain my religion. -John Adams

55. Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, what could be invented to debase the ancient Christianism, which Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christian factions, above all the Catholics, have not fraudulently imposed upon the public? Miracles after miracles have rolled down in torrents, wave succeeding wave in the Catholic church, from the Council of Nicea, and long before, to this day. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Religion

John Adams Quotes On Religion

56. Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion. -John Adams

57. The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles? -John Adams

58. 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. -John Adams

59. Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.

John Adams

60. It 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. -John Adams

61. Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all government and in all the combinations of human society. -John Adams

62. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Democracy

John Adams Quotes On Democracy

63. I say, that Power must never be trusted without a check. -John Adams

64. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. -John Adams

65. I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.

John Adams

66. Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. -John Adams

67. Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man’s life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes On Leadership

John Adams Quotes On Leadership

68. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. -John Adams

69. Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases. -John Adams

70. The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

John Adams

71. Always stand on principle even if you stand alone. -John Adams

72. Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society. -John Adams

John Adams Quotes About America

John Adams Quotes About America

73. My country has contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived. -John Adams

74. I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth. -John Adams

75. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. -John Adams

76. 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 our local destination. 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 practicing 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.

John Adams

78. All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation. -John Adams

79. I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth. -John Adams

80. But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution. -John Adams

81. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. -John Adams