Thursday, July 4, 2013

John Adams on the foundations of free government

From one of the key statesman of the revolutionary period and the second president of the United States:
Religion and Virtue are the only Foundations, not only of Republicanism and all free Government, but of social felicity under all Governments and in all Combinations of human Society. 
- Letter to Benjamin Rush, Aug. 28, 1811, taken from The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations, edited by James H. Hutson (Princeton: 2005), pg. 191.


matt s said...

By 1811 virtue was the "in" thing. There are many depictions of lady virtue in political cartoons of the time. America had to sell itself as virtuous not only internally, but most importantly, internationally. We needed to cement our reputation in the world; one of a young nation acting older and some may say wiser than it really was. A nation based on freedom of religion and virtue and justice for all(except blacks and women). Adams obviously was caught up in the rhetoric of the times.

Tom Van Dyke said...

That's a rather good objection, MattS, and yet one more reason to give far lower importance to John Adams' opinions after he has left public life, ex post facto.