John Adams

1735 - 1826

A Quote by John Adams on endurance, existence, learning, nations, proof, protestantism, and truth

The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. . . . And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: Letter to John Taylor, The Life and Works of John Adams, Boston, 1851, v. 6, p. 517.

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A Quote by John Adams on country, imagination, and inventions

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

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

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A Quote by John Adams on abuse, society, and words

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

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: To J. H. Tiffany, March 31, 1819.

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A Quote by John Adams on history, improvement, mankind, mind, progress, revolution, and society

My History of the Jesuits is in four volumes.... This society has been a greater calamity to mankind than the French Revolution, or Napoleon's despotism or ideology. It has obstructed progress of reformation and the improvement of the human mind in society much longer and more fatally.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: To Jefferson, November 4, 1816.

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A Quote by John Adams on bigotry, cruelty, danger, darkness, death, history, and wishes

My history of the Jesuits is not elegantly written, but is supported by unquestionable authorities, is very particular and very horrible. Their restoration is indeed "a step toward darkness," cruelty, perfidy, despotism, death and I wish we were out of danger of bigotry and Jesuitism.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: To Jefferson, August 9, 1816.

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A Quote by John Adams on authority, belief, cruelty, god, heaven, ignorance, knowledge, management, mankind, morality, nature, people, persuasion, pleasure, power, religion, rules, shame, timidity, and wine

They even persuaded mankind to believe, faithfully and undoubtingly, that God Almighty had entrusted them with the keys of heaven, whose gates they might open and close at pleasure; with a power of dispensation over all the rules and obligations of morality; with authority to license all sorts of sins and crimes; with a power of deposing princes and absolving subjects from allegiance; with a power of procuring or withholding the rain of heaven and the beams of the sun; with the management of earthquakes, pestilence, and famine; nay, with the mysterious, awful, incomprehensible power of creating out of bread and wine the flesh and blood of God himself. All these opinions they were enabled to spread and rivet among the people by reducing their minds to a state of sordid ignorance and staring timidity, and by infusing into them a religious horror of letters and knowledge. Thus was human nature chained fast for ages in a cruel, shameful, and deplorable servitude to him and his subordinate tyrants, who, it was foretold, would exalt himself above all that was called God and that was worshipped.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, 1765.

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A Quote by John Adams on common sense, constitution, danger, delusion, ideas, laws, men, mind, mortality, mystery, nature, nonsense, reason, rest, and society

They (the Puritans) saw clearly that of all the nonsense and delusion which had ever passed through the mind of man, none had ever been more extravagant than the notions of absolutions, indelible characters, uninterrupted successions, and the rest of those fantastical ideas, derived from the canon law, which had thrown such a glare of mystery, sanctity, reverence, and right reverend eminence and holiness around the idea of a priest as no mortal could deserve, and as always must, from the constitution of human nature, be dangerous to society. For this reason they demolished the whole system of diocesan episcopacy, and, deriding, as all reasonable and impartial men must do, the ridiculous fancies of sanctified effluvia from Episcopal fingers, they established sacerdotal ordination on the foundation of the Bible and common sense.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, 1765.

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A Quote by John Adams on books, christianity, heresy, and order

What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the index expurgatorius, the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter, and the guillotine.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: Letter to John Taylor, The Life and Works of John Adams, Boston, 1851, v. 6,

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A Quote by John Adams on consequences, history, ideas, people, revolution, and war

As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar perhaps singular. What do we mean by the revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: letter to Thomas Jefferson, August 24, 1815.—The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, vol. 10, p. 172 (1856).

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A Quote by John Adams on change, people, principles, radicals, revolution, and war

The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

John Adams (1735 - 1826)

Source: To Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818.

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