Foundation of Government Letter (Thoughts on Government) (excerpt)

John Adams


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"A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal. You will find among them some elegance, perhaps, but more solidity; a little pleasure, but a great deal of business; some politeness, but more civility. If you compare such a country with the regions of domination, whether monarchical or aristocratical [sic], you will fancy yourself in Arcadia or Elysium."

Full text available online at: Source: Papers of John Adams, vol. 4, February through August 1776, ed. Robert J. Taylor. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1979.


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