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

John Adams Quote

“Liberty, according to my metaphysics, is an intellectual quality, an attribute that belongs not to fate nor chance. Neither possesses it, neither is capable of it. There is nothing moral or immoral in the idea of it. The definition of it is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power; it can elect between objects, indifferent in point of morality, neither morally good nor morally evil. ”

John AdamsJohn Adams
~ John Adams

Letter to John Taylor 16 April 1814

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

The statement is absolutely correct when considered in positive law and reduced solely to the abstract of intangible quality. The other half of liberty's equation is morally applied tangibles. Realized usurpation of rights and involuntary servitude are reprehensible and moral evils. It is one thing to desire compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, involuntary servitude (as manifest through governmental larceny, fiat paper, etc.) etc., it is a complete other thing to force such onto those that desire individual noble sovereignty under a Constitutional Republic (with all its freedoms, responsibilities and government of laws averse to government of men, etc.). Liberty is of the mind, and of the body, and of moral application.

jim k
  • Reply
jim k    1/21/09

Mike said it better than I could. Unfortunantly, many Americans today are happy to sacrifice liberty on the altar of security. An example right now is the election of Barack Obama.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Liberty is a state of mind that you are free to choose or reject. It is not given to you, it is yours to take without regard to chance, fate, or a government goodwill. No one bestows liberty, you simply live it. Security is an emotional state that some try to find in a protector, when in fact it can only be found in individual liberty.

E Archer, NYC

Interesting -- I like it. I agree. Liberty is neither moral or immoral -- it is what you do with it that counts.

Steve, Fort Worth

To sacrifice liberity for safety, and prosperity is to willingly chain your hands and wear the yoke of the slave master.

ananthu, madurai

the statement about liberty by John Adams is exactly correct. i agree with it whole heartedly.


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