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

John Adams Quote

“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? [...] Whenever I use the word republic with approbation, I mean a government in which the people have collectively, or by representation, an essential share in the sovereignty... the republican forms in Poland and Venice are much worse, and those of Holland and Bern very little better, than the monarchical form in France before the late revolution.”

John AdamsJohn Adams
~ John Adams

Adams to Samuel Adams, 18 Oct, 1789 in Works, VI:415,420-421

Ratings and Comments


Georgia Peach, Savannah

Finally! Hope this will remind those folks who are always yammering about the USA being a 'republic' and not a 'democracy'. Alright already, we are a republic -- but what does that mean? I think we are going to have to come to terms with the word 'democracy' as the word 'republic' does not readily define itself whereas at least the word 'democracy' implies the will of the People (whether it is true or not).

Shayla Bebee, carl junction mo

that is the best quote i have ever heard!!! GREAT JOB!!!

mike, ohio
  • Reply
mike, ohio    2/4/07

it is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!( :

J Carlton, Calgary

The difference comes with the word "Constitutional" Republic. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote. A Democracy is still the rule of the strongest interests and does not guarantee anyone's rights.

Ben, Springfield, MO

The exact opposite of what I have seen some write here (Waffler). Right on target!

E Archer, NYC

The battle for the world is the battle of definitions. Even in Adams' time, the corruption of the meaning of the word 'republican' had begun. Today it is an archaic term replaced by the word 'democracy' -- a term even more fraudulent. In corporate America, we invent so many words and jargon that a glossary of terms is included in most corporate documents and contracts to better clarify what is being developed or agreed upon. Perhaps American government should do the same in their own decrees so that decades and generations later the People can clearly understand the original intent, meaning, and agreement. If republican government must be guaranteed to every State in the Union, then 'republican' ought to be defined in explicit detail within the accord, not centuries later after the word has taken on new meaning.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Adams is saying here what I've seen Mike write of. The basis of our country is that each and every individual man and women is 100% independently sovereign. Under English rule, only the King was sovereign who then dealt out rights, privileges, and license to the people who were NOT sovereign (Lords, Knights, serfs, etc.) The founders sought to make a system where all men were considered equally sovereign, just like the King-- a country of Kings, as it were. Each country has their own particular political foundations; some countries carry the facade of a Republic (in name only) like China or N. Korea, while other Republics base the foundation of their laws on different assumptions and verifying authorities than the United States. In America, after seeing the long train of human abuses throughout history, the founders sought to base THIS federalism on something that would never change, and the best thing they could find were the laws of nature (nature being the strongest constant they could find). I would give this 20 stars if I could...

Anonymous

We aren't a republic, we are a "representative democracy" (aka republic).

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