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

John Adams Quote

“[N]o good government but what is republican... the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.'”

John AdamsJohn Adams
~ John Adams

"Thoughts on Government" January, 1776

Ratings and Comments

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P.M.    1/11/07
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Katie    10/19/07

Men are to fallible. We seem to think we can change right and wrong when it doesn't fit the way we want to live.

brad, florida


J Carlton, Calgary

The empire of men we have now are the international banksters...and their puppets.

Senor Reek, Heartland West

Laws are good. But I learned in Belize that Law without enforcement is worthless. Selective enforcement (rich vs. poor) is worse than worthless.

Logan, Memphis, TN

What more can possibly be said?

Mike, Norwalk

The difference between a Republic and a Democracy is the source of law creation. If there are natural laws, as would pertain to the nobility of life, fiscal activities, etc., the defining and (as Senor Reek has pointed out) enforcement of such laws will maintain and enhance freedom and liberty.

Doreen, New York

The U.S was very fortunate to have had intelligent founders. And one of the great things they did was to make it very difficult to change the constitution, unlike some countries who allow just one person to change the constition at the drop of a hat.

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Jim    2/16/09

We were very fortunate indeed.

Nancy, OH
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Nancy, OH    6/15/09

Amen to that, Mr. Adams! How I wish you were here in 2009, along with you honorable colleagues, to educate the citizenry of the USA!

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Anonymous    12/1/09

But men should have a say in making the laws, and they should constantly be questioning them and the authority they create.

Mike, Norwalk

I would here further explain; natural law (gravity, science, physics, fiscal law, murder, larceny, etc.) enforce themselves (some immediately, some over eons of time) Man's enforcement of law (law enforcement) is an oxymoron. Can one enforce gravity or fiscal law - the answer is NO! An example of a government of men's 'laws' might be understood by an examination of Keynesian economics. Socialist governments of men enforce securities rules, government intervention, central control by carnal men (government), etc. All such ends in economic destruction because it is antithetical to natural fiscal law. The fiscal law enforces itself.

Mick, Manchester

Thomas Aquinas differentiates between secular law, natural law and God's law. At the time of his writing the hierarchy was God, nature, secular. In terms of the laws by which man lives or is constrained to live his life in the west is secular or man made law devised, revised and improved to promote and protect the rights of the individual within society. Pretty sure the secular laws of government are the subject matter of this quote.

Mike, Norwalk

Mick, I'm less than a fan of many of Aquinas' conclusions (Hobbs even less). His totalitarian spin on Aristotle was in most cases antithetical to the aspects of Locke's philosophy as were chosen by U.S. political founders. One aspect of the Greek based philosophical versions of natural law (a bit outside both aquinas and Locke) that the founders attempted to establish was the Hebrew natural law that recognized no temporal third party's authorization to govern over an individual sovereign heir to eternity.

Ronw13, Oregon

Very well said Mike, Norwalk !! From the Greek, Physiocracy, government of Nature. The first well developed theory of economics embraced by our founding fathers. Agrarians as Jefferson, our agrarian representative who wrote the Declaration of Independence ! We are a nation designed to give glory to God and not man or his flights of fancy !

E Archer, NYC

I wholeheartedly agree with Adams, but I am a bit torn as even Adams admitted:

"All good government is and must be republican. But at the same time, you can or will agree with me, that there is not in lexicography a more fraudulent word... Are we not, my friend, in danger of rendering the word republican unpopular in this country by an indiscreet, indeterminate, and equivocal use of it?"

Mike makes the distinction between Natural Law and humankind's statutes called 'laws' which are usually what people assume to mean 'the law.'  Mike ever reminds us that humankind cannot make law in the context of natural law.  Governments write legislation  rules for the citizenry  which may or may not be in harmony with natural law and by extension with the God of Nature which is not affixed to any specific religion or dogma.  Only if the 'empire of laws' is in harmony with the Laws of Nature can the republic stand.  It should be noted that the American republican form of government's foundation is the declaration that all people are free from being the subjects of a Crown, that the people are born with inherent rights that are inseverable.  This is unique to any other country in the world right now, and is thus the target of the most powerful in the world.

A republic  I think I'll keep it.  ;-) 


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