Sunday, September 25, 2011

John Adams by David McCullough

  • "All that part of Creation that lies within our observation is liable to change. Even mighty states and kingdoms are not exempted." - John Adams, 39
  • "he would bend his whole soul to the law. He would let nothing distract him...'Reputation,' wrote Adams, 'ought to be the perpetual subject of my thoughts, and aim of my behavior.'" - 46
  • "Why have I not genius to start some new thought?...Some thing that will surprise the world?" - John Adams, 47
  • "The first news of the Stamp Act reached the American colonies during the last week of May 1765 and produced an immediate uproar, and in Massachusetts especially...The new law, the first British attempt to tax Americans directly, had been passed by Parliament to help pay for the cost of the French and Indian War and to meet the expense of maintaining a colonial military force to prevent Indian wars." - 59
  • "above all, except the wife and children, I want to see my books." - John Adams, 64
  • "Pen, ink, and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking." - John Adams, 66
  • "The happiness of the people was the purpose of government...and therefore that form of government was best which produced the greatest amount of happiness for the largest number." - 102
  • "Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant." - John Adams, 103
  • "We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world." - John Adams, 127
  • "With independence proclaimed, confederation - a working union of the colonies - had become the focus of 'spirit' animating the delegates. Union was as essential as independence, nearly all contended - indeed, more important in the view of many - and the issues to be resolved were formidable." - 146
  • "The confederacy is to make us one individual only; it is to form us, like separate parcels of metal, into one common mass. We shall no longer retain our separate individuality, but become a single individual as to all questions submitted to the confederacy." - John Adams, 147
  • "As time would prove, he had written one of the great, enduring documents of the American Revolution. The constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the oldest functioning written constitution in the world." - 225
  • "Everything in life should be done with reflection." - John Adams, 259
  • "A chronic acquirer, Jefferson is not known to have ever denied himself anything he wished in the way of material possessions or comforts." - 319
  • "One had only to stand on any London bridge, said a guidebook, to see fleets of ships 'carrying away the manufactures of Britain and bringing back the produce of the whole earth,' a spectacle illustrating Adams' chief concern as ambassador, since none was American." - 341
  • "Before any great things are accomplished, he wrote to a correspondent, 'a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.'" - 364
  • "I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere." - Thomas Jefferson, 371
  • "He could not accept the idea of enshrining reason as a religion, as desired by the philosophes. 'I know not what to make of a republic of thirty million atheists.'" - 418
  • "How few aim at the good of the whole, without aiming too much at the prosperity of parts." - John Adams, 422
  • "The one, Hamilton, disliked and distrusted the French, while, for the good of the American economy, strongly favoring better relations with Britain. The other, Jefferson, disliked and distrusted the British, while seeing in France and the French Revolution the embodiment of the highest ideals of the American Revolution." - 436
  • "Written in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson's Kentucky Resolutions declared that each state had a 'natural right' to nullify federal actions it deemed unconstitutional. The states were thus to be the arbiters of federal authority." - 521
  • "Washington's death had seemed to mark the close of one era; the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte ushered in another." - 534-5
  • "Despite the malicious attacks on him, the furor over the Alien and Sedition Acts, unpopular taxes, betrayals by his own cabinet, the disarray of the Federalists, and the final treachery of Hamilton, he had, in fact, come very close to winning [a second term] in the electoral count." - 556
  • "Were it not for John Adams making peace with France, there might never have been a Louisiana Purchase." - 586
  • "Unlike Jefferson, who seldom ever marked a book, and then only faintly in pencil, Adams, pen in hand, loved to add his comments in the margins. It was part of the joy of reading for him, to have something to say himself, to talk back to, agree or take issue with, Rousseau, Condorcet, Turgot, Mary Wollstonecraft, Adam Smith, or Joseph Priestly." - 619

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