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

John Adams Quote

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

John AdamsJohn Adams
~ John Adams

Defence of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States

Ratings and Comments

ashley, golden

it sucks

Yndrd1984, Ames, IA

It's great!

Mike, NC
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Mike, NC    1/19/06

It's great!

Logan, Memphis, TN

Well, we can clearly see that socialists also read the liberty quotes. John Adams is absolutely correct - Countries where Socialism and Communism have been allowed follow the quick road of anarchy and tyranny - You take away from man the basic right of keeping what he has worked himself for, his property, his dignity, his honor - in time, such a man will revolt - even at the expense of his own life.

Judith, Midland

Thank you, Mr. Adams.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Of course, John Adams is correct. But only to a point. Material property is finite, so that there is a limit on what anyone could own; you could only own as much as there is, and no more. If a small group owned a tremendous amount, a larger group would have to suffer want as a result. This is, in fact, one of the causes of famine (although hunger as a political tool and ignorance of existing technology also contributes to hunger). Such large tracts of land in some places are made unavailable for planting of food crops, resulting in food shortages for the poor populations. So, by all means respect property, and also respect people's right to life.

Joe, Rochester, MI

I will protect what is mine. Law abiding citizens need not fear me, but criminals beware ... you may get shot stealing from me.

Mike, Madison

The source is Defence of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States

Art, Connecticut

"The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory." - U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in dissent of the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling

WILL, portsmouth

Rousseau argued that the first man to lay down a fence to take land as his own is responsible for all the war and tyranny. When soo much war and hate has started from the covetting of other's property how can the above quote stand as true? It can't, the basis is, that without principles of ownership half the issues we have seen in our history wouldn't have happened. The state wouldn't exist in reality or concept.

Harvey, Chattanooga
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Harvey, Chattanooga WILL, portsmouth 8/2/20

Both your thinking and your grammar are disordered. It is impossible to write a sensible response to an incomprehensible comment. But anyone who uses Rousseau as an authority has no credibility. You do know, don't you, that Rousseau was the philosopher on which Mussolini based Italian Fascism? All the blood of the French Revolution and much of the blood of World War 2 can be traced to Rousseau. 

MDG, Evansville, IN

Adams is correct, but incomplete. The right to private property is a "natural right," as George Mason pointed out in his draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. That means every human being has the right -- by nature (i.e., God-given) -- to own things. The rights of private property, on the other hand, must be limited as to their exercise, i.e., you cannot use what you own to harm yourself, others, or society, and society may even regulate ownership of certain things, but only to the extent that there is a general consensus that such things should not be privately owned and handed over to the State for expedience. Thus, most people agree that, while we have the right to keep and bear arms, this does not include atomic weapons. An important caveat, evidently forgotten by the judges in the New London case, is that, while the State has the responsibility to define the exercise of property, it may never do so in a way that negates the underlying natural right to be an owner. To take property with compensation for overriding public use is one thing, and often necessary, but to take it for a public PURPOSE -- all purposes being "public" as man is by nature a political animal -- utterly destroys property as a natural right, or even a right at all.

Nancy, OH
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Nancy, OH    6/15/09

Here we are today, the very antithesis of the quote existing alive and well in the USA. Outrageous.

Walter Clark, Fullerton California

I'm surprised no one commented on Adam's placing property rights above the law of God. I will. Property rights is a covenant between people. It is entirely possible to have full agreement on such a thing. Whereas the law of God can only be heard through a human or through tribes of humans and because of that, there will sometimes be disagreement. The present belief on the part of liberals and even atheist liberals in "fairness" is really as spirit-like as any belief in God. (How can people agree on what's fair?) This notion of fairness being more sacred than property rights should be more terrible to us today than the concern John Adams had for any specific religion being more sacred than property rights. The reason we should worry is because fairness is associated with non-religious people who would have you believe that fairness is a natural phenomenon. Liberals would like to turn fairness into an inalienable right administered by a priesthood.

uvm, Huntington Beach

Read the quote carefully. Adams didn't place private property "above" the law of God.

Eric Russ, Hendersonville, NC

As evidenced by our present "government." To govern is to steer - not to control...

grouchy, Redway, CA

All depends on whose property you're talking about. MY property rights are inviolable! But if you start annoying me when you exercise your property rights -- like having loud parties at night, or inviting all your relatives to camp in your back yard, or build a motorcycle shop in your front yard -- then I want some regulations!! I've had a few interesting experiences at town meetings where some of the people who shout the loudest about private property rights turn like wild animals on neighbors who want, for example, to build a an "affordable" apartment building on a vacant lot in their neighborhood even though local zoning allows it. So whose rights are we talking about?

Dan Mason, St. Augustine, Fl

Great quote, just goes to show how far we have fallen - The Fall of America is happening now!

Mike, Norwalk

Welcome to Amerika, where the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land has negated Adam's here stated inalienable law of nature and nature's God. It takes a search into antiquities to understand the meaning and use of 'title' and 'license' (they are not ownership) Titles are bestowed by courtesy, becoming definable specie at commerce. Allodial ownership is retained by the sovereign (Sovereignty is uniquely the status of an individual - a state being sovereign only by the expression of individual sovereigns united. When a state claims sovereignty outside individual persons, despotism, tyranny - inclusive of non-ownership exists, license replacing freedom and liberty) Individual ownership is not recognized in Amerika today.

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing (Jean Baptiste Colbert) As with taxation, it being related to ownership at times (income, property, life / Obamacare, etc.) so it is with ownership in general. Mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. To the degree ownership (or even a perception thereof) is protected, prosperity and true wealth increase. To the degree ownership is denied, prosperity and wealth decrease.

Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership (recording of titles, etc.) and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods (communism, corporatism / fascism, all forms of socialism - as now recognized in the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land, etc.) has by natural law, ultimately dissuaded personal responsibility, character, work ethic, morals, prosperity and happiness of the individuals so inflicted. Now that the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land has so long denied allodial freehold, and/or otherwise perfected ownership, even the once free noble sovereign has been reduced to social chattel slavery.

jim k, Austin, Tx

We don't really own our property.
, we lease it from the county. If I don't pay my property taxes the county takes my home.

Sandy, Huntington Beach,CA

YES - when a Govt. has too much power and control -Imminent Domain and IRS Taxes and MANDATED HEALTHCARE w IRS control over your money! That is TYRANNY I think he would flip his wig! WHEN WE the PEOPLE are in control -that is FREEDOM!

E Archer, NYC

Some very good points in this discussion. There is some validity to how much land a single 'sovereign' person should be allowed to have -- what is to prevent the richest from buying up all the land and making us all tenants forever? Heck, Ted Turner literally owns a couple small state's worth.

And what of a person's labors and his money? Where does the State have the right to arbitrarily decide how much of it they may claim? To tax a person's labors is a form of servitude, is it not? What are the limits? It seems the government has granted itself the power to take it all if they so decide.

But let's say you have a 2 acre lot and a house or a family farm -- there's certainly enough land for everyone to have an acre or two and a house -- why should you have to keep paying taxes on property you already own? Isn't this then just renting your own property? It ultimately places ownership of everything in the hands of the State -- which is nothing other than other people!

I'm not sure anarchy and tyranny are the only results of not respecting private property -- you certainly get a very, VERY powerful cabal that literally claims ownership to everything and everyone with billions of us paying them 90% of our life's labors -- that is SLAVERY, pure and simple. Tyranny indeed!

Robert Sarkissian, Orange, California

Why must readers of this quote always extrapolate other meanings that were never intended? Take it for face value. It's a basic right of all men to own property legally and not to be subverted by government.


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