THE poor people, it is true, have been much less successful than the great. They have seldom found either leisure or opportunity to form an union and exert their strength - ignorant as they were of arts and letters, they have seldom been able to frame and support a regular opposition. This. however, has been known, by the great, to be the temper of mankind, and they have accordingly laboured, in all ages, to wrest from the populace, as they are contemptuously called, the knowledge of their rights and wrongs, and the power to assert the former or redress the latter.
John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law No. 1, August 12, 1765
It’s Labor Day in the U.S.A., and it might be a good time to consider what we have been losing. Inequality is greater now than in colonial days, and if we needed unions then we certainly need them now.
LAWS for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that to a humane and generous mind, no expence for this purpose would be thought extravagant.
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, April, 1776
My, times have changed. Not for the better.
I am wearied to Death with the Life I lead. The Business of the Congress is tedious, beyond Expression. This Assembly is like no other that ever existed. Every Man in it is a great Man - an orator, a statesman, and therefore every Man upon every Question must shew his oratory, his Criticism and his Political Abilities.
The Consequence of this is, that Business is drawn and spun out to an immeasurable Length. I believe if it was moved and seconded that We should come to a Resolution that Three and two make five We should be entertained with Logick and Rhetorick, Law, History, Politicks and Mathematicks, concerning the Subject for two whole Days, and then we should pass the Resolution unanimously in the Affirmative.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, October 9, 1774
He makes two days sound like a long time for Congress.
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. - I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
Close, but no cigar.
The Stoicks, the Christians the Mohametans and our North American Indians all agree, that complaint is unmanly, unlawful and impious. To bear torment without a murmur, a sigh, a groans, or a distortion of face and feature or a writhe, or contortion of the body is consummate virtue, heroism and piety. …. I see nothing but pride, vanity, affectation and hypocrisy in these pretended stoical apathies. I have so much sympathy and compassion for human nature, that a man or a woman may grunt and groan, screech and scream, weep, cry, or roar as much as nature dictates under extreme distress, provided there be no affectation; for there may be hypocrisy even in these expressions of torture.
John Adams, letter to Francis van der Kemp, May 16, 1816
The rich are seldom remarkable for Modesty, Ingenuity, or Humanity. Their Wealth has rather a Tendency to make them penurious and selfish.
John Adams, from his diary, June 30, 1772
We ought to consider, what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as Divines and moral Philosophers agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government, which communicates ease, comfort, security, or in one word happiness to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, April, 1776
Let us neglect all party virulence and advert to facts. Let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government, any more than in religion: take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others, who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.
John Adams, “U” No. 111, August 29, 1763
Phylosophy which is the result of Reason, is the first, the original Revelation of The Creator to his Creature, Man. When this Revelation is clear and certain, by Intuition or necessary Induction, no subsequent Revelation supported by Prophecies or Miracles can supercede it. Phylosophy is not only the love of Wisdom, but the Science of the Universe and its Cause.
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, December 25, 1813
It’s getting too much. Lately it’s not just the creationists. We also hear from flat-earthers (geocentrists), and probably half the people in the U.S. think the movie Noah was based on a true story. Several of our Founding Fathers knew enough to trust science.
That I have no Friendship for Franklin I avow. That I am incapable of having any with a Man of his moral Sentiments, I avow. As Far as cruel Fate shall compell me to act with him in publick affairs, I shall treat him with decency and perfect Impartiallity, further than that I can feel for him no other sentiments than Contempt or Abhorrence. In my Soul I believe of him all the Burke says of shelburne. Yet to undertake to lay before the public all the Reasons I have for believing so would do more hurt at present than his Neck and mine too are both worth, and therefore I have Said and shall say as little about it, as is consistent with my Honour.
John Adams, letter to Edmund Jennings, July 20, 1782
The feeling was mutual.