John AdamsJohn Adams, (1735-1826) Founding Father, 2nd US President

John Adams Quote

“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. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”

John AdamsJohn Adams
~ John Adams

"A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88)

Ratings and Comments

Logan, Memphis, TN

The Constitution, said Paine, is not a contract between the government and man, because such a principle would establish our government as an independent and separate party from the people that had power to negotiate and barter. It is a document that strictly prohibits, partitions, and dictates exactly what the federal government can and cannot do (and by virtue of the 10th Amendment, the federal government cannot do ANYTHING unless there is a specific Constitutional Amendment saying so). On the surface, a Republic operates much like a Democracy, but, by design, it seeks to protect the rights of minority that are non-existent in a Democracy. Republics seek to do this by adhering to an outside codex of "laws", "rules", or "regulations" wherein the majority has no power, even if it is the majority. Life, liberty, and property are inalienable rights (endowed by a Creator) of individuals wherein it is reasoned that the majority absolutely cannot infringe upon anyone in matters pertaining to these rights. Rape, no matter what the ratio is (And no, Waffler, the ignorant champion of Democracy, has still not given me his magic number/ratio wherein rape, incest, and murder are okay, due to the majority's consent; 1:2, 1:100, 1:1,000,000?) is wrong, because it violates an outside and natural codex of reasoned laws wherein life, liberty, and property are violated. While many Republics around the world have based their rule of "law" on a different premise of reasoning and regulation, the United States, as Adams stated, picked to establish their Republic upon the "simple principles of nature". Now, the ignorant among us may shout: "What does 'natural' mean anyway?" Well, I suggest you take a jump out of a 10th level window and find out just how natural gravity is. It had to do with the Enlightenment's justification of returning and understanding the "state of nature" wherein all men interact with each other on a proper basis; an understanding wherein all men can reason with their senses how things moved and interacted in a state of nature.

  • Reply
Dan    7/3/08

Aahhh, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. It soothes my heart which cries out for justice. Thanks for the quote.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Adams is great but I sense a slight dichotomy or glimmer of contention between the terms "nature" and "reason and senses". Reason is something men do with each other "come let us reason together". Nautre or natural law is something that is divined or declared and does not involve reason, it is declared as self evident. Now I will accept some self evident propositions but not many. Even the quintessential American self evident proposition "all men are created equal" is really just an adopted somewhat spirtualiezed convention. A useful one which I wholeheartedly support. Europe used the natural law or divine right of Kings as its source for authority and government for centuries. One could not reason against such "natural or divine law". Often what is "natural or common sense" in one society is totally opposite in another. People use the prhase as a means to get their own way. They will say, "Do it like this, it is natural and common sense." What they are really saying is, "Do it my way."

Mike, Norwalk

The statement does not preclude the possibility of Divinely inspired enlightenment but does state that the obvious could be reasoned and that which was self evident, could be legislated. Some, believing "a lie told often enough becomes the truth", believes that if government says it, it must be natural, divine, and true. The detail of the formation of the American governments is at present still little known due to the great job of dumbing down America. America has returned to the mentality of the Divine right of kings, voting for individuals to represent the ever aloof democracies oligarchy.

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RobertSRQ    7/3/08

Very good Logan. From these giddy thoughts of a sublime future based on the use of reason and senses to the reality of today’s government based on fear and greed, have we become mere slaves forever indebted to a system that requires only absolute submission (your either with us or against us). The problem will occur when the slaves have no money or resources to survive, then we will see the ashes and the phoenix. But, governments are clever, they will always allow us enough to survive just so we don't cross the line into total anarchy. We must break down the walls that divide us from nature and once again control our own destination - let's grow our own food and barter for other food and resources - what would happen to fast food and the Wal-Marts of the world... True value will occur when survival is the primary driving force.

E Archer, NYC

Excellent comments, Logan. If you haven't already, I wholeheartedly recommend reading Adams' "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" from which this quote was taken -- the link is above. I think it will help clarify this whole debate around 'republics' and 'democracies' as Adams diligently researches the topic prior to the framing of the Constitution for the US. Briefly, Adams concludes that historically, republican governments prospered when there was a proper balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches -- whenever one became too powerful, the republic failed. Adams identifies 3 primary powers from which republics throughout history were formed -- monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical. If either force was not balanced by the others, the republic ended up in ruin. The Legislative branch was made up of the aristocratical and democratical forces -- the Senate was the aristocratical form, and the House of Representatives was the democratical form. The Senators were NOT ELECTED but appointed by the governor of each state and were generally among the wealthiest and most powerful in their states. In other words, the House of Representatives was the ONLY democratical sub-branch of the government. Adams warned of an entirely democratical government in which eventually the masses voted themselves the wealth of the aristocrats and brought the country to ruin. The same was true if the aristocratical or monarchical forces overtook the others. The American form of Republican government is defined in the Constitution for the United States and was designed to CHECK power from all the various branches so that none could rule the rest. But after the War Between the States, the federal government did indeed become unbalanced -- eventually Senators became elected thus removing the check against democracy. The sovereignty of the States was obviously subject to federal rule, so no more sovereignty from the federal perspective -- and the President acquired massive new powers. The creation of the US citizen then essentially made all the people now subject to the federal government which was no longer confined to the 10 mile square Washington D.C. but now over the entire United States. Today, the US govt operates like a de facto democracy, but with a President who is not bound to the rule of Law, there is no democracy either. The aristocratical (and monarchical) forces are pushed into the shadows and pull the strings from behind the scenes via orgs like the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Bilderburgers, Club of Rome, etc. BUT all are dependent upon and subservient to the Federal Reserve/IMF/World Bank to whom the entire nation (dare I say 'world') is in receivership as a bankrupt nation with an unpayable debt. So there's your 'republic' for you. Whew!

Logan, Memphis, TN

Ah, the CFR and Trilateral Commission; I had the experience of meeting with Joseph Nye Jr concerning his new book "The Powers that Lead" last March. Nye is the vice chairman of the Trilateral Commission and a member of the Bilderburgers. Very interesting fellow. Archer, well said. I have read a great deal of Adams "A Defense of the Constitutions of Government and the United States of America." It's a great piece.

Me Again
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    Me Again    7/9/08

    John Adams, like many of Our Founders, was a man of Substance and Vision. Unfortunately, I agree with this quote and if we are to see to it that the final chapters of America are not to be as he describes it to possibly be, then people of vision and substance and natural goodness with a high degree of respect for our origins as children of The Spirit must (and will) step forward to set this once great nation back on its original path of adherence to the Founding PRINCIPLES and Documents that once formed this United States.

    J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT

    The three Adam's quotes were initially a surprise to me. I must also confess that I have not read as much about him as I should have. He comes through with some truths in an unexpected way. He seems to have always existed on a cloud of his own. While respected as a founding father, he appeared at the French court without an ability to speak the language and without a translator. He was only given one term as POTUS. He fell out but later reconciled with TJ. So he remains somewhat of a puzzle.

    Kimo, USA
    • Reply
      Kimo, USA    10/4/11

      I think, I am gonna put all my money, where my mouth is, and vote Ron Paul

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      • Reply
        abby    10/4/11

        He was also the first Vice President of the United States....

        Mike, Norwalk

        Logan and Archer, said well. Waffler, what is natural about the divine right of kings (unless you are speaking of each individual heir of our Father and King)? What law of physics does that fall in? Or, holding apparent, that if one owes more than can be pay backed - such harmonizing with fiscal natural law, how does that support your supposition of a kings divine right? Because a king is subject to gravity, does that make him divine? Waffler, what ? ? ? Your reasoning makes no sense and is not natural. ;-)

        Alexis N. de Gaston, Phoenix, AZ

        I respect John Adams and all that he has done. Nethertheless he seems to have forgotten that the Constitutional Convention was not making progress until finally at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin (with words saying that if a bird cannot fall to earth without God noticing, how can a nation be born without the help of God) all meetings of the Convention were then begun with a prayer to the Almighty for his divine help. After this the Convention began to progress, and did progress to a very successful and great conclusion, our original "Constitution". Perhaps J. Adams said more than in this quote to establish that God was part of the Constitutional endeavor. I hope so! The mistake that kept Moses out of the promised land was to tell the stiff-necked Israelites how he had brought forth water from the rock in the desert, rather than saying the Lord brought forth the water.

        Ronw13, ID

        Commonsense 101, A statement well crafted, befitting for the masses and the future to come. Divine rights, codified within nature to assure communication to all generations. 


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