Tuesday, January 5, 2010

John Adams Quotations (Part 1)

John Adams was the workhorse of the revolution and was an unsung hero, to me at least, until I read David McCullough's masterful biography. Adams worked incessantly for the success of the American democratic experiment and his efforts required great personal, financial and physical sacrifice.This was the first book by McCullough I've read and I am excited to read 1776 next.

Because several of you have already read or are familiar with this famous biography, my objective here is to share and discuss some favorite quotations rather than to review the entire biography.

In the midst of the first continental congress and just prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence Adams wrote to a friend:
Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.
The prescience to understand that the choices he and his fellow congressmen made would affect millions is astounding. (In fact, his comment is an understatement considering the wide sweep of democracy. The repercussions are on the order of billions rather than millions.) I believe it was this foresight and his incredible sense of duty that propelled Adams to such dedication and sacrifice for the cause. To achieve something of true greatness we need to have a sense of the long term consequences of our efforts.


  1. I have not had the pleasure of reading the biography, though it is on my list, but I did very much enjoy the HBO special entitled John Adams that came out last year (I believe), starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. I gained a whole new respect for the man, the role he played, and the sacrifices he and his family made for our country.

  2. So the HBO special is good? Consider it queued. Seriously, these books do give you huge respect for these men (and women--Abigail Adams was a rock).

  3. Yeah, the HBO special is definitely worth seeing. And, I too was very impressed by Abigail Adams. What a wonderful example of a strong woman of the day.