john adams - republican federalist - narrated - march 2013

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The life of John Adams and his role in creating a new nation

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John Adams: Republican Federalist Written by Edward J. Dodson, M.L.A. February 2013

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John Winthrop

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“Human nature is more easily wrought upon and governed by promises and encouragement and praise than by punishment, and threatening and blame.”

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Jeremiah Gridley

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“One is to pursue the study of the law, rather than the gain of it. Pursue the gain of it enough to keep out of the biers, but give your main attention to the study of it. The next is not to marry early. For an early marriage will obstruct your improvement, and in the next place, it will involve you in expense.”

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“Laziness, languor, inattention, are my bane. I am too lazy to rise early and make a fire; and when my fire is made at ten o’clock, my passion for knowledge, fame, fortune or any good is too languid to make me apply with spirit to my book, and … my mind is liable to be called off from law by a girl, a pipe, a poem, a love-letter, a spectator, a play …”

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Abigail Smith

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“Simply considering the health of the bride and groom, it was not a promising match. Abigail was almost a chronic invalid, racked by migraine headaches, unaccountable fevers and persistent insomnia. John, a food faddist and seldom free of some nagging complaint, had already resigned himself to an early death.” Page Smith

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“With toil and fatigue, perhaps not to be conceived by their brethren and fellow-subjects at home, and with the constant peril of their lives, from a numerous, savage, and warlike race of men, they began their settlement, and God prospered them. …”

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“They obtained a charter from King Charles the first; wherein his Majesty was pleased to grant them and their heirs and assigns for ever, all the lands therein described, to hold of him and his royal successors in free and common soccage; which we humbly conceive is as absolute an estate as the subject can hold under the crown.  And in the same charter were granted to them, and their posterity, all the rights, liberties, privileges, and immunities of natural subjects, born within the realm. …”

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“This charter they enjoyed, having, as we most humbly conceive, punctually complied with all the conditions of it, till in an unhappy time it was vacated–But after the revolution, when King William and Queen Mary, of glorious and blessed memory, were established on the throne: In that happy reign, when, to the joy of the nation and its dependencies, the crown was settled in your Majesty’s illustrious family, the inhabitants of this province shared in the common blessing. …”

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“Then they were indulged with another charter; in which their Majesties were pleased for themselves, their heirs and successors, to grant and confirm to them as ample estate in the lands or territories as was granted by the former charter, together with other the most essential rights and liberties contained therein:  The principal of which, is that which your Majesty’s subjects within the realm have ever held a most sacred right, of being taxed only by representatives of their own free election.”

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“I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government – Rights that cannot be repealed or retrained by human law – Rights derived from the great Legislator of the universe.”

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“We are now upon the beginning of a year of greater expectation than any that has passed before it. This year brings ruin or salvation to the British Colonies. The eyes of all America are fixed on the British Parliament. In short, Britain and America are staring at each other – and they will probably stare more and more for some time.”

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William Pitt

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“…that King, lord, and Commons have an undoubted right to make laws for the colonies in all cases whatsoever.”

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“I see that my countrymen, the Americans, have not the virtue, the fortitude, the magnanimity, to resist these encroachments … to a decisive effect.”

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“I said there was no more justice left in Britain than there was in hell – that I wished for war, and that the whole Bourbon family was upon the back of Great Britain – avowed a thorough disaffection to that country – wished that anything might happen to them … that they might be brought to reason or to ruin.”

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“This is the most magnificent movement of all! There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I greatly admire. The people should never rise without doing something to be remembered – something notable and striking. This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important consequences, and so lasting, that I can’t but consider it as an epoch in history.”

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“The morals of our people are much better. Their manners are more polite and agreeable – they are purer English. Our language is better, our persons are handsomer, our spirit is greater, our laws are wiser, our religion is superior, our education is better. We exceed them in everything but in a market, and in charitable public foundations.”

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“Resolved, that Massachusetts and the town of Boston are now struggling in the common cause of American freedom, and, therefore, that it is the indispensible duty of all the colonies to support them by every necessary means, and to the last extremity.”

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“God helps those who help themselves, and it has ever appeared to me since this unhappy dispute began that we had no friend upon the earth to depend on but the resources of our own country, and the good sense and great virtues of our people. We shall finally be obliged to depend upon ourselves.”

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“The opportunity was irresistible to a philosopher-politician, and Adams, his head full of Harrington, Sidney, Hobbes and Locke, as well as a dozen continental theorists, set to work to put his own views of government in order.”

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“I have seen all my life such selfishness and littleness even in New England, that I sometimes tremble to think that, although we are engaged in the best cause that ever employed the human heart, yet the prospect of success is doubtful not for want of power or of wisdom but of virtue.”

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“The Old Testament reasoning against monarchy would have never come from me. The attempt to frame a continental constitution is feeble indeed – it is poor and despicable. Yet this is a very meritorious production. In point of argument there is nothing new.”

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“There must be a decency, and respect and veneration introduced for persons in authority, of every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is the only way to supporting order, and in our circumstances, as our people have been so long without any government at all, it is more necessary than in any other.”

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“Nothing is more certain, from the history of nations and the nature of man, than that some forms of government are better fitted for being well administered than others.”

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“… to all the vices, follies, and frailties of an individual; subject to fits of humor, starts of passion, fights of enthusiasm, partialities, or prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments.”

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“Education [produces] a greater difference between man and man than nature has made between man and brute. The virtues and powers to which men may be trained, by early education and constant discipline, are truly sublime and astonishing.”

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“It is certain, in theory, that the only moral foundation of government is the consent of the people. To what an extent shall we carry this principle? Shall we say that every individual of the community, old and young, male and female, as well as rich and poor, must consent, expressly, to every act of legislation? This is manifestly impossible. …”

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“From whence, then, arises the right of the majority to bind the minority? Power always follows property. Men in general, who are wholly destitute of property, are also too little acquainted with public affairs to form a right judgment, and too dependent upon other men to have a will of their own.”

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“I fear we shall find that popular elections are not oftener determined upon pure principles of merit, virtue and public spirit than the nominations of a court, if we do not take care. I fear there is an infinity of corruption in our elections already crept in. …A popular government is the worst curse to which human nature can be devoted when it is thoroughly corrupted. Despotism is better.”

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“I am inclined to think that all parties, both in France and England – Whigs and Tories in England, the friends of Franklin, [Silas] Deane, and [Arthur] Lee, in France, differing in many other things, agreed in this – that I was not the famous Adams … that I was a man of whom nobody had ever heard before, a perfect cipher, a man who did not understand a word of French; awkward in his figure – awkward in his dress – no abilities – perfect bigot – and fanatic.”

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“The fields of grain, the vineyards, the castles, the cities, the parks, the gardens, everything is beautiful, yet every place swarms with beggars.”

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“The end of the institution, maintenance and administration of government is to secure the existence of the body politic; to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying, in safety and tranquility, their natural rights and the blessing of life; and whenever thse great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government and to take measures necessary for their safety, happiness and prosperity.”

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“… division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and concerting measures in opposition to each other.”

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“The just complaints of the people of real grievances ought never to be discouraged and even their imaginary grievances may be treated with too great severity. But when a cry is set up for the abolition of debts, equal division of property, and the abolition of senates and governors, it is time for every honest man to consider his situation.”

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“Because of the prestige of the author and the awesome array of authorities quoted, the Defence attained at once the stature of a kind of reference work, a source book on government.”

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“We agree perfectly that the many should have a full, fair, and perfect representation. You are apprehensive of monarchy, I of aristocracy. I would therefore have given more power to the president and less to the Senate.”

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“It appears to be admirably calculated to cement all America in affection and interest, as one great nation. A result of accommodation and compromise cannot be supposed perfectly to coincide with everyone’s ideas of perfection. But, as all the great principles necessary to order, liberty, and safety are respected in it, and provision is made for corrections and amendments as they may be found necessary, I confess I hope to hear of its adoption by all the states.”

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“Is not my election to this office, in the scurvy manner in which it was done, a curse rather than a blessing? Is this justice? Is there common sense or decency in this business? Is it not an indelible stain on our country, countrymen, and constitution? I assure you I think so.”

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“I am as much a republican as I was in 1775. I do not consider hereditary monarchy or aristocracy as ‘rebellion against nature’’ on the contrary I esteem them both institutions of admirable wisdom and exemplary virtue in a certain stage of society in a great nation, the only institutions that can possibly preserve the laws and liberties of the people – and I am clear that America must resort to them as an asylum against discord, seditions, and civil war, and that at no very distant period of time – I shall not live to see it but you may.”

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“A society can no more subsist without gentlemen than an army without officers. So says Harrington; so says history; so says experience; so says reason. …This was the group that put service to their country above gain, and every society needed such a group.”

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John Taylor

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“When men are given up to the rule of their passions, they murder like weasels for the pleasure of murdering, like bulldogs and bloodhounds in a fold of sheep.”

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“I do not believe that Mr. Jefferson ever hated me. On the contrary I believed that he always liked me, but he detested Hamilton and my whole administration. Then, he wished to be President of the United States, and I stood in his way. So he did everything he could to pull me down. …”

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“But if I should quarrel with him for that, I might quarrel with every man I have had anything to do with in life. This is human nature. …I forgive all my enemies and hope they may find mercy in heaven. Mr. Jefferson and I have grown old and retired from public life. So we are upon our ancient terms of good will.”

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