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-   -   John Adams on national debt (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=83182)

hoitoider 21 November 2012 02:13 PM

John Adams on national debt
 
I keep seeing this quote attributed to John Adams. Other sites say it's bogus.

"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt."

GenYus234 21 November 2012 02:35 PM

The Miller Center has a speech from John Adams (on the XYZ affair) where he calls for the "regular extinguishment of the public debt". But this was never referred to as a means of conquering a nation.

Lainie 21 November 2012 02:43 PM

If he said/believed that, it didn't stop him from trying to obtain loans to the (future) US from at least one European country (Holland) during the Revolution. Although I suppose he may have considered it a last resort.

GenYus234 21 November 2012 03:03 PM

Multiple uses of this quote put it at 1826, the year when John Adams died. The Online Library of Liberty (which doesn't seem to be as biased as it sounds) has a collection of words from John Adams around this time. None of them reference debt.

But they do have this quote in a 1825 letter to Jefferson:
Quote:

Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws. ... as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed. The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated.
And in 1824, Adams wrote, "It is long since I have ceased to write, read, speak, or think upon theories of government, and now, at half way on my eighty-ninth year, I am incapable of either."

He might have had a sudden revival of his ability, but none of his later letters talk about theories of government.

crocoduck_hunter 21 November 2012 03:49 PM

What is it that makes John Adams so popular with the neo-cons and Tea Party, anyway?

Lainie 21 November 2012 04:31 PM

Ignorance? The sentimentalization of history?

Dasla 27 November 2012 03:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter (Post 1685996)
What is it that makes John Adams so popular with the neo-cons and Tea Party, anyway?

Great people of the past. Anything they say must be an absolute truth. The can't have a bad day, be prejudice about something or just be plan wrong.

ganzfeld 27 November 2012 03:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lainie (Post 1686015)
Ignorance?

I was going to post this exact word when I noticed great minds think alike. :)

lord_feldon 27 November 2012 03:57 AM

So we've conquered China, then? They'd be pretty screwed if we didn't pay up. Or is it that they've conquered us by...giving us billions upon billions of dollars at incredibly low rates?

Quote:

Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter (Post 1685996)
What is it that makes John Adams so popular with the neo-cons and Tea Party, anyway?

IME, he's not all that popular with them. Adams favored centralized government a little too much for their tastes. They tend to prefer Jefferson.

crocoduck_hunter 27 November 2012 06:21 AM

I've seen a lot more stuff attributed to Adams being floated around by right wingers than Jefferson. And most of the attempts to claim Jefferson into the fold seem to be about trying to whitewash his stances on things like religion's role in the government and the government's role in running the country.

dbanghart 11 January 2013 12:13 AM

Another John Adam's quote
 
I've gotten tired of seeing these types on misinformation be shared I decided to create my own.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-k8UMhS9MPI...dams+quote.jpg

Roblynne 11 February 2015 09:00 PM

Slavery quote ok with Boston uni
 
This John Adams quote is listed with the Boston University-based John Adams Heritage Society http://www.john-adams-heritage.com/quotes/ which surely gives it a high - albeit not unquestionable - degree of authenticity. There is however no cited date to the quote. I've asked them to advise further and will post their response if received.
The fact John Adams spoke endlessly about the risks of public debt also underpins the quote. Basically, ion the off chance he didn't say it, it effectively paraphrases what he did say.

Lainie 11 February 2015 09:29 PM

Welcome to the ULMB, Roblynne.

Can you provide cites for a few of those time Adams spoke about the risk of public debt?

Roblynne 12 February 2015 07:28 AM

Hi Lainie, thanks for the welcome! I guess the most famous is from the First Annual Message (State of the Union address) 1797. Debt related to the revolution was obviously a major issue at the time, also involving the next president, Thomas Jefferson, and there is also an early letter from Adams to Jefferson on that matter, 25 August 1787. I am not a historian but it's a constant theme of his writings, for example to Abigail Adams, where he says on April 3 1794 "it grieves me to the heart to see an increase of our debts and taxes". So I'd regard the quote about slavery to be in line with that. However,did he say it? I haven't heard back from the John Adams Historical Society which lists it as a quote (here correcting my earlier citing of the Heritage Society).

Samwise Z 12 February 2015 01:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lord_feldon (Post 1687535)
IME, he's not all that popular with them. Adams favored centralized government a little too much for their tastes. They tend to prefer Jefferson.

I thought they disliked Jefferson (didn't Texas try to kick him out of high school history text books?), but it's probably because they have no clue what any of the founding fathers really said.


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