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

John Adams Quote

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have... a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the characters and conduct of their rulers.”

John AdamsJohn Adams
~ John Adams

Ratings and Comments



Karen Vasquez, Brown-towm

I find it to be full of emotion and leadership, this is one of the best quotes I have heard form John Adams. I give him my adolescents

  • Reply
juana    3/2/09

no entiendo na de esto

Eric, Troy

Where's the birth certificate?

O. Delusional Liberal

But of course.

Justin, Elkland

Adams stops short before arriving at heart of the matter. A ruler is by definition a criminal, regardless of character or conduct. John Adams was a monarchist.

Waffler, Smith

The character and conduct of our elected officials ("rulers") is paramount to our democratic (democracy) way of life. A free and investigative press is important to our society. Adams was one of the greatest thinkers and writers about our young nation and the coming together of it's political system.

Mike, Norwalk

5 stars 100 times for the first 4 lines. With in my government I have no rulers but, servants and representatives only. I understand that languages and concepts are built around and, represent individual / social experiences, thus no words explaining the new positions of the not tried before representative republic (where Benjamin Franklin said: "In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns" and, Thomas Jefferson said: "Governments are the servants, not the masters of the people.") but, as Justin stated above, Adams the monarchist probably intended the un-American use of the word, 'ruler'. As to the general knowledge of liberty being preserved, that is one of the reasons why the ruling statist theocracy has been so adamant about dumbing down We The People.

jim k, Austin,Tx

As to the character and conduct of our current "rulers", it's a sad state of affairs. Most need to get pink slips in november.

E Archer, NYC

Considering that there had never been a republican government in Adams' lifetime, I will cut him some slack on the word 'rulers' which can be applied not just to America but to any nation. And Adams was not a monarchist -- in his extensive study of the structures of governments throughout history, he identified the 3 primary forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy -- each of which on their own he considered a form of tyranny. Adams furthered the notion of a balance of powers and the formation of a government that included all 3 forms to each balance the other. Consider that all of the Founding Fathers were BORN subjects to the Crown, as had been the 'rule' since time memorial, and the nobility of the individual 'soveriegn' was a revolutionary concept. Personally, I think they did a pretty good job. They gave us a republic -- all we had to do was "keep it." But obviously knowledge of the character and conduct of our presidential and congressional candidates hasn't stopped us from putting them into office to continue their lies and unlawful acts which begs the question: Why do we keep putting greedy, narcissistic politicians into positions of authority and power?!

Ken, Allyn, WA

Q. Why do we keep putting greedy, narcissistic politicians into positions of authority and power?! A. Because they're the only ones who want the job.

Waffler, Smith

Good stuff from Archer, real good stuff, I am shocked. Mike went off the deep end on the ruler thingy, I am not shocked. As far as narcissism it is simply an occupatinal trait of putting oneself up for election.


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