100 John Quincy Adams Quotes

These are the Top 100 John Quincy Adams quotes that will give you a rundown of his life during his presidency. In this post, we’re featuring quotes that tackle religion, slavery, and liberty; and above all these things, you’ll get to see why John Quincy Adams is revered as one of the best leaders in history.

John Quincy Adams was the 6th President of the United States and was considered an excellent statesman that was highly skilled in diplomacy and was a champion of the abolition of slavery.

Continue to the full list below.

Best John Quincy Adams Quotes

1. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

2. “Though it cost the blood of millions of white men, let it come. Let justice be done.”

3. “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all His laws.”

4. “A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as the keenest dispositions discovered in the heart of man.”

5. “This is the last of earth! I am content.”

6. “The gospel of Christ not only differs from all other systems of religion in the superior excellence of the truths it reveals, but also in the directions it gives for the propagation of its doctrines.”

7. “Posterity—you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

8. “I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.”

9. “Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”

10. “She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.”

11. “In charity to all mankind, bearing no malice or ill will to any human being, and even compassionating those who hold in bondage their fellow men, not knowing what they do.”

12. “To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so, is something worse.”

13. “If the fundamental principles in the Declaration of Independence, as self-evident truths, are real truths, the existence of slavery, in any form, is a wrong.”

14. “Thus situated, the perilous experiment must be made. Let me make it with full deliberations, and be prepared for the consequences.”

15. “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.”

16. “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.”

17. “We understand now, we’ve been made to understand and to embrace the understanding, that who we are is who we were.”

18. “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.”

19. “Whoever tells the best story wins.”

John Quincy Adams Quotes on Religion and Reformation

20. “The Reformation which took place in the sixteenth century, while it aimed to remove many of the abuses of Popery, still did not recognize religious liberty.”

21. “A dissolution of the Union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a servile war in the slave-holding States, combined with a war between the two severed portions of the Union.”

22. “It seems to me that its result might be the extirpation of slavery from this whole continent; and, calamitous and desolating as this course of events in its progress must be, so glorious would be its final issue, that, as God shall judge me, I dare not say that it is not to be desired.”

23. “The Baptists stood entirely alone as the defenders of the rights of conscience.”

24. “All the Reformed communities agreed that it was right for the magistrate to punish those who did not worship according to the prescribed rule of their churches; and it was for opposition to this feature of religious oppression, in connection with their adherence to believer’s baptism, that brought upon the Baptists those severe persecutions which they were called to endure.”

25. “Duty is ours, results are God’s.”

26. “They contended for religious liberty; the Reformed churches opposed it, and committed themselves to a course fatal to the rights of conscience.”

27. “Of all persecuted sects, the Baptists stand forth as most prominent, simply and only because they aim at a more complete and thorough reform than any others ever attempted.”

28. “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this—it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

29. “Democracy—pure democracy—has at least its foundation in a generous theory of human rights. It is founded on the natural equality of mankind. It is the cornerstone of the Christian religion. It is the first element of all lawful government upon earth.”

30. “The Bible contains the revelation of the will of God. It contains the history of the creation of the world, and of mankind.”

31. “According to the Stoics, all vice was resolvable into folly. According to the Christian principle, it is all the effect of weakness.”

32. “To read the Bible is of itself a laudable occupation and can scarcely fail of being a useful employment of time; but the habit of reflecting upon what you have read is equally essential as of reading itself, to give it all the efficacy of which it is susceptible.”

33. “Gratitude—warm, sincere, intense—when it takes possession of the bosom, fills the soul to overflowing and scarce leaves room for any other sentiment or thought.”

34. “It was the special purpose of Christ’s appearance upon earth to bring immortality to light.”

35. “This idea of the transcendent power of the Supreme Being is essentially connected with that by which the whole duty of man is summed up—obedience to His will.”

36. “In order to preserve the dominion of our own passions, it behooves us to be constantly and strictly on our guard against the influence and infection of the passions of others.”

37. “Heaven has given to every human being the power of controlling his passions, and if he neglects or loses it, the fault is his own, and he must be answerable for it.”

38. “The more you meditate on the laws of Moses, the more striking and brighter does their wisdom appear.”

39. “A stout heart, a clear conscience, and never despair.”

40. “Death fixes forever the relation existing between the departed spirit and the survivors upon earth.”

41. “The Bible carries with it the history of the creation, the fall and redemption of man, and discloses to him, in the infant born at Bethlehem, the Legislator and Savior of the world.”

42. “So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society. I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year.”

43. “The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”

44. “It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation, the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God.”

45. “My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the Gospel of Christ.”

46. “The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”

47. “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will be America’s heart, her benedictions, and her prayers.”

48. “There is in the clergy of all Christian denominations a time-serving, cringing, subservient morality, as wide from the spirit of the gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of truth.”

49. “I say women exhibit the most exalted virtue when they depart from the domestic circle and enter on the concerns of their country, of humanity, and of their God!”

John Quincy Adams on Slavery and Discrimination

50. “If slavery be the destined sword of the hand of the destroying angel which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut in sunder the bonds of slavery itself.”

51. “The founders of your race are not handed down to you, like the fathers of the Roman people, as the sucklings of a wolf.”

52. “You are not descended from a nauseous compound of fanaticism and sensuality, whose only argument was the sword, and whose only paradise was a brothel.”

53. “However tiresome to others, the most indefatigable orator is never tedious to himself. The sound of his own voice never loses its harmony to his own ear; and among the delusions, which self-love is ever assiduous in attempting to pass upon virtue, he fancies himself to be sounding the sweetest tones.”

54. “A wiser and more useful philosophy, however, directs us to consider man according to the nature in which he was formed; subject to infirmities, which no wisdom can remedy; to weaknesses, which no institution can strengthen; to vices, which no legislation can correct.”

55. “Where annual elections end, where slavery begins.”

56. “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

57. “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?”

58. “Is not the brand of ‘double-dealer’ stamped on the forehead of every democratic slaveholder? Are not fraud and hypocrisy the religion of the man who calls himself a democrat, and holds his fellow-man in bondage?”

59. “It is of no use to discover our own faults and infirmities unless the discovery prompts up to amendment.”

60. “I have no predilection for unpopularity as such, but I hold it much preferable to the popularity of a day, which perishes with the transient topic upon which it is grounded.”

61. “Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round, till not a slave shall on this earth be found.”

62. “My wants are many, and if told, would muster many a score; and were each wish a mint of gold, I still would want for more.”

63. “I want the seals of power and place, the ensigns of command, charged by the people’s unbought grace, to rule my native land. Nor crown, nor scepter would I ask but from my country’s will, by day, by night, to ply the task her cup of bliss to fill.”

64. “The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue.”

65. “Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom.”

66. “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.”

67. “The conflict will be terrible, and the progress of improvement perhaps retrograde before its final progress to consummation.”

68. “The imagination of a eunuch dwells more and longer upon the material of love than that of man or woman supplying, so far as he can, by speculation, the place of pleasures he can no longer enjoy.”

69. “Religion, charity, pure benevolence, and morals, mingled up with superstitious rites and ferocious cruelty, form in their combination institutions the most powerful and the most pernicious that have ever afflicted mankind.”

John Quincy Adams on Liberty and Freedom

70. “The natural fruit of one was persecution—of the other, liberty.”

71. “It is my wish to fill every moment of my time with some action of the mind which may contribute to the pleasure or the improvement of my fellow creatures.”

72. “A politician in this country must be the man of a party. I would fain be the man of my whole country.”

73. “My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right.”

74. “When an advocate is not thoroughly acquainted with the real strength and weakness of his cause, he knows not where to choose the most impressive argument.”

75. “When the mark is shrouded in obscurity, the only substitute for accuracy in the aim is in the multitude of the shafts.”

76. “Be a great speaker, become a leader.”

77. “Occasional war is one of the rigorous instruments in the hands of Providence to give tone to the character of nations.”

78. “No one knows, and few conceive, the agony of mind that I have suffered from the time that I was made by circumstances, and not by my volition, a candidate for the Presidency till I was dismissed from that station by the failure of my election.”

79. “Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud—it is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”

80. “The Declaration of Independence pronounced the irrevocable decree of political separation, between the United States and their people on the one part, and the British king, government, and nation on the other.”

81. “The great object of the institution of civil government is the improvement of those who are parties to the social compact.”

82. “From the day of the Declaration, the people of the North American union, and of its constituent states, were associated bodies of civilized men and Christians, in a state of nature, but not of anarchy.”

83. “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.”

84. “All the public business in Congress now connects itself with intrigues, and there is great danger that the whole government will degenerate into a struggle of cabals.”

85. “The radical principle of all commercial intercourse between independent nations is the mutual interest of both parties. It is the vital spirit of trade itself; nor can it be reconciled to the nature of man or to the primary laws of human society that any traffic should long be willingly pursued of which all the advantages are on one side and all the burdens on the other.”

86. “Treaties of commerce have been found by experience to be among the most effective instruments for promoting peace and harmony between nations whose interests, exclusively considered on either side, are brought into frequent collisions by competition.”

87. “In framing such treaties, it is the duty of each party not simply to urge with unyielding pertinacity that which suits its own interest, but to concede liberally to that which is adapted to the interest of the other.”

88. “The great interests of an agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing nation are so linked in union together that no permanent cause of prosperity to one of them can operate without extending its influence to the others.”

89. “All these interests are alike under the protecting power of the legislative authority, and the duties of the representative bodies are to conciliate them in harmony together.”

90. “The firmest security of peace is the preparation during peace of the defenses of war.”

91. “I told him that I thought it was law logic—an artificial system of reasoning, exclusively used in courts of justice, but good for nothing anywhere else.”

92. “To preserve, to improve, and to perpetuate the sources and to direct in their most effective channels the streams which contribute to the public weal is the purpose for which the government was instituted.”

93. “The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.”

94. “The freedom of the press should be inviolate.”

95. “From the experience of the past, we derive instructive lessons for the future.”

96. “The four most miserable years of my life were my four years in the presidency.”

97. “Find a mission that you can give yourself over to and then spend your days moving that mission forward. Man is made so that when anything fires his soul the impossibilities vanish.”

98. “Civil liberty can be established on no foundation of human reason which will not at the same time demonstrate the right of religious freedom.”

99. “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating, and short-lived.”

100. “Our Constitution professedly rests upon the good sense and attachment of the people. This basis, weak as it may appear, has not yet been found to fail.”

What Kind of Leader Did These Quotes Inspire You to Be?

For most people, John Quincy Adams was able to perfectly define the role and importance of leadership. In his quote, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” he was able to encapsulate the most important things about being one—strive to inspire others to be more than what they thought they could be and fight with them through battles and hardships as one. To inspire is the true essence of leadership; and ultimately, this should be our goal too.

What other lessons did you pick up from this collection of John Quincy Adams quotes? Are there any other quotes you’d like us to cover? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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