Sunday, November 6, 2011

Quote of the Day - John Adams

I just found this quote while attempting to ascertain who is the author of the famous quip "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for lunch." It seems that quote is apocryphally attributed variously to famous folks from Ben Franklin to Winston Churchill but there seems to be no confirmable origin. In any case the much less famous gem of wisdom below is equally enlightening and disturbing and comes from no less a man than one of our more famous Founding Fathers and the second President of the United States, to wit, John Adams.

"I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never."

~~ John Adams in a personal letter to John Taylor dated April 15, 1814 (courtesy of Wikiquote)

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