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John Adams

Date de naissance: 30. octobre 1735
Date de décès: 4. juillet 1826

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John Adams, né le 30 octobre 1735 et mort le 4 juillet 1826 à Quincy , est un homme d'État américain, premier vice-président des États-Unis entre 1789 et 1797, puis deuxième président de l'Union entre 1797 et 1801. Il est considéré comme l'un des Pères fondateurs des États-Unis.

John Adams joue un rôle important dans la révolution américaine d’abord dans le Massachusetts, sa région d'origine, puis comme représentant du Congrès continental en Europe. Il obtient notamment des fonds de la part des marchés monétaires d’Amsterdam afin de financer les dépenses liées à la guerre d'Indépendance américaine. Il est l’un des principaux artisans de la paix avec le Royaume-Uni. Son prestige lui permet d’être élu vice-président au côté de George Washington à deux reprises, puis de devenir président de la jeune nation. Durant son mandat présidentiel, il doit faire face aux oppositions qui agitaient sa famille politique, le Parti fédéraliste, en particulier de la part d’une faction menée par Alexander Hamilton. Il tente de rendre la fonction de président apolitique, mais se trouve confronté aux critiques des deux partis politiques de l'époque. Il essaie de sauvegarder la neutralité des États-Unis dans les conflits entre les puissances européennes pendant la crise de la quasi-guerre . John Adams est le premier président ayant résidé à la Maison-Blanche, achevée en 1800 à Washington.

Battu par Thomas Jefferson à l'élection présidentielle américaine de 1800 alors qu'il se présentait pour un deuxième mandat, il prend sa retraite auprès de son épouse dans son État natal. La correspondance qu'il a entretenue avec elle pendant sa présidence montre qu'il était en même temps l'ami et le rival de Thomas Jefferson. John Adams est à l’origine d’une importante lignée d’hommes politiques, d’historiens et de diplomates. L’historiographie récente a tenté de réhabiliter son bilan politique.

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Citations John Adams

„The American Revolution was not a common event.“

—  John Adams
Context: The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease? But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

„Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.“

—  John Adams
Context: Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist. But if unlimited or unbalanced power of disposing property, be put into the hands of those who have no property, France will find, as we have found, the lamb committed to the custody of the wolf. In such a case, all the pathetic exhortations and addresses of the national assembly to the people, to respect property, will be regarded no more than the warbles of the songsters of the forest. The great art of law-giving consists in balancing the poor against the rich in the legislature, and in constituting the legislative a perfect balance against the executive power, at the same time that no individual or party can become its rival. The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries. The executive and the legislative powers are natural rivals; and if each has not an effectual control over the other, the weaker will ever be the lamb in the paws of the wolf. The nation which will not adopt an equilibrium of power must adopt a despotism. There is no other alternative. Rivalries must be controlled, or they will throw all things into confusion; and there is nothing but despotism or a balance of power which can control them. No. 13

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„I have not one drop of blood in my veins but what is American.“

—  John Adams
Context: Neither my father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, great grandfather or great grandmother, nor any other relation that I know of, or care a farthing for, has been in England these one hundred and fifty years; so that you see I have not one drop of blood in my veins but what is American. To an ambassador (1785), as quoted in The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: Autobiography http://books.google.com/books?id=lWcsAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA392 (1851), by Charles F. Adams, p. 392.

„We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form.“

—  John Adams
Context: We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all Divines and moral Philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.

„Remember the frank Veteran acknowledges, that "the word rebel is a convertible term."“

—  John Adams
Context: We are told: "It is a universal truth, that he that would excite a rebellion, is at heart as great a tyrant as ever wielded the iron rod of oppression." Be it so. We are not exciting a rebellion. Opposition, nay, open, avowed resistance by arms, against usurpation and lawless violence, is not rebellion by the law of God or the land. Resistance to lawful authority makes rebellion. … Remember the frank Veteran acknowledges, that "the word rebel is a convertible term." No. 5

„I have long wondered that the original draught has not been published. I suppose the reason is, the vehement philippic against negro slavery“

—  John Adams
Context: A meeting we accordingly had, and conned the paper over. I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose. There were other expressions which I would not have inserted, if I had drawn it up, particularly that which called the King tyrant. I thought this too personal; for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity only, cruel. I thought the expression too passionate, and too much like scolding, for so grave and solemn a document; but as Franklin and Sherman were to inspect it afterwards, I thought it would not become me to strike it out. I consented to report it, and do not now remember that I made or suggested a single alteration. We reported it to the committee of five. It was read, and I do not remember that Franklin or Sherman criticized any thing. We were all in haste. Congress was impatient, and the instrument was reported, as I believe, in Jefferson’s handwriting, as he first drew it. Congress cut off about a quarter of it, as I expected they would; but they obliterated some of the best of it, and left all that was exceptionable, if any thing in it was. I have long wondered that the original draught has not been published. I suppose the reason is, the vehement philippic against negro slavery. Regarding a draft of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Letter to Timothy Pickering (6 August 1822) http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2100#lf1431-02_head_061 As quoted in The Founding Fathers: John Adams: A Biography in his own Words https://web.archive.org/web/20111029143754/http://home.nas.com/lopresti/ps2.htm (1973), by James Bishop Peabody, Newsweek, New York, p. 201.

„Slavery is an evil of Colossal Magnitude.“

—  John Adams
Context: I Shall not pause to consider whether my Opinion will be popular or unpopular with the Slave Holders, or Slave Traders, in the Northern the Middle, the Southern, or the Western, States—I respect all those who are necessarily subjected to this Evil.—But Negro Slavery is an evil of Colossal Magnitude. … I am therefore utterly averse to the admission of Slavery into the Missouri Territory, and heartily wish that every Constitutional measure may be adopted for the preservation of it. Letter http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-7261 to William Tudor, Jr., 20 November 1819. Partially quoted in Founding Brothers : The Revolutionary Generation (2000) by Joseph J. Ellis, p. 240

„The judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that“

—  John Adams
Context: The judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that.

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„Human nature with all its infirmities and depravation is still capable of great things.“

—  John Adams
Context: Human nature with all its infirmities and depravation is still capable of great things. It is capable of attaining to degrees of wisdom and goodness, which we have reason to believe, appear as respectable in the estimation of superior intelligences. Education makes a greater difference between man and man, than nature has made between man and brute. The virtues and powers to which men may be trained, by early education and constant discipline, are truly sublime and astonishing. Newton and Locke are examples of the deep sagacity which may be acquired by long habits of thinking and study. Letter to Abigail Adams (29 October 1775), published Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, Vol. 1 (1841), ed. Charles Francis Adams, p. 72

„The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.“

—  John Adams
Context: The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease? But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

„You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first.“

—  John Adams
Context: Is there no way for two friendly souls to converse together, although the bodies are 400 miles off? Yes, by letter. But I want a better communication. I want to hear your think, or to see your thoughts. The conclusion of your letter makes my heart throb more than a cannonade would. You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first. Letter to Abigail Adams (28 April 1776)

„On the one hand it is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other it is deaf, deaf as an adder, to the clamors of the populace.“

—  John Adams
Context: The law no passion can disturb. 'Tis void of desire and fear, lust and anger. 'Tis mens sine affectu, written reason, retaining some measure of the divine perfection. It does not enjoin that which pleases a weak, frail man, but, without any regard to persons, commands that which is good and punishes evil in all, whether rich or poor, high or low. 'Tis deaf, inexorable, inflexible. On the one hand it is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other it is deaf, deaf as an adder, to the clamors of the populace.

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„I shudder when I think of the calamities which slavery is likely to produce in this country.“

—  John Adams
Context: I shudder when I think of the calamities which slavery is likely to produce in this country. You would think me mad if I were to describe my anticipations… If the gangrene is not stopped I can see nothing but insurrection of the blacks against the whites. 1820, as quoted in John Adams https://web.archive.org/web/20111029143754/http://home.nas.com/lopresti/ps2.htm, by Page Smith, Doubleday, Garden City, New York

„Virtue is the mistress of all things. Virtue is the master of all things.“

—  John Adams
Context: Omnium rerum domina, virtus. Virtue is the mistress of all things. Virtue is the master of all things. Therefore a nation that should never do wrong must necessarily govern the world. The might of virtue, the power of virtue, is not a very common topic, not so common as it should be. (6 August 1796)

„No man is entirely free from weakness and imperfection in this life.“

—  John Adams
Context: No man is entirely free from weakness and imperfection in this life. Men of the most exalted genius and active minds are generally most perfect slaves to the love of fame. They sometimes descend to as mean tricks and artifices in pursuit of honor or reputation as the miser descends to in pursuit of gold. (19 February 1756)

„Thomas — Jefferson — still surv —“

—  John Adams
Context: Thomas — Jefferson — still surv Last words (4 July 1826) as quoted in The Oxford History of the American People (1965) by Samuel Eliot Morison, p. 420; this is often rendered as a full statement, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." Thomas Jefferson died a few hours earlier on the same day, the 50th anniversary of the congressional approval of The Declaration of Independence.

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