Quotations by Adams, John Quincy


Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Idleness is sweet, and its consequences are cruel.

[La molesse est douce, et sa suite est cruelle.]

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
(Attributed)

Said to have been written in his diary, but unverified.
Added on 28-Jul-09 | Last updated 28-Nov-16
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The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Aug-11 | Last updated 12-Aug-11
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Whoever increases his knowledge, multiplies the uses to which he is enabled to turn the gift of his Creator.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
House Report 181 (19 Jan 1836)

Recommending the approval of the Smithsonian Institution by Congress.

Added on 22-Jul-08 | Last updated 22-Jul-08
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Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force …. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Independence Day Address, Washington, DC (4 Jul 1821)
Added on 13-Sep-07 | Last updated 13-Sep-07
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The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue. Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom. That the fall of slavery is predetermined in the counsels of Omnipotence I cannot doubt; it is a part of the great moral improvement in the condition of man, attested by all the records of history. But the conflict will be terrible, and the progress of improvement perhaps retrograde before its final progress to consummation.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Journal (11 Dec 1838)
Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 31-Oct-16
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It is among the evils of slavery that it taints the very sources of moral principle. It establishes false estimates of virtue and vice: for what can be more false and heartless than this doctrine which makes the first and holiest rights of humanity to depend upon the color of the skin?

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Journal (1820)
Added on 26-Sep-16 | Last updated 26-Sep-16
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Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Letter to James Lloyd (1 Oct 1822)
Added on 3-Oct-16 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong. Fiat justitia, pereat coelum. My toast would be, may our country be always successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Letter to John Adams (1 Aug 1816)

In response to Stephen Decatur's quote (and subsequent popular catch phrase), "Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong."

The Latin translates as "Let justice be done though Heaven should fall."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Aug-16
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All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Letter to William Eustis (22 Jun 1809)
    (Source)
Added on 14-Nov-16 | Last updated 14-Nov-16
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Who but shall learn that freedom is the prize
Man still is bound to rescue or maintain;
That nature’s God commands the slave to rise,
And on the oppressor’s head to break the chain.
Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round,
Till not a slave shall on this earth be found.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Poem, in his diary (30 Oct 1826)
    (Source)

Sonnet written on the birthday of his father, John Adams, six months after his death.
Added on 7-Nov-16 | Last updated 8-Dec-16
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To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs life itself and enlarges the sphere of existence.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Report on the Establishment of the Smithsonian Institution (c. 1846)
Added on 17-Oct-16 | Last updated 17-Oct-16
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We know the redemption must come. The time and the manner of its coming we know not: It may come in peace, or it may come in blood; but whether in peace or in blood, LET IT COME.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Speech to “The colored people of Pittsburge, Pennsylvania” (1843)

Representative Dellet of Alabama quoted the speech before the House of Representatives, then asked Adams, "though it cost the blood of thousands of white men?" Adams responded, "Though it cost the blood of millions of white men, let it come. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Speech, Plymouth (22 Dec 1802)

Sometimes given as "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."
Added on 11-Nov-16 | Last updated 11-Nov-16
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Religious discord has lost her sting; the cumbrous weapons of theological warfare are antiquated: the field of politics supplies the alchymists of our times with materials of more fatal explosion, and the butchers of mankind no longer travel to another world for instruments of cruelty and destruction. Our age is too enlightened to contend upon topics, which concern only the interests of eternity; and men who hold in proper contempt all controversies about trifles, except such as inflame their own passions, have made it a common-place censure against your ancestors, that their zeal was enkindled by subjects of trivial importance; and that however aggrieved by the intolerance of others, they were alike intolerant themselves. Against these objections, your candid judgment will not require an unqualified justification; but your respect and gratitude for the founders of the State may boldly claim an ample apology. The original grounds of their separation from the church of England, were not objects of a magnitude to dissolve the bonds of communion; much less those of charity, between Christian brethren of the same essential principles.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Speech, Plymouth (22 Dec 1802)
Added on 28-Nov-16 | Last updated 28-Nov-16
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This hand, to tyrants ever sworn the foe,
For Freedom only deals the deadly blow;
Then sheathes in calm repose the vengeful blade,
For gentle peace in Freedom’s hallowed shade.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Written in an Album (1842)
Added on 24-Oct-16 | Last updated 24-Oct-16
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