fuck you john adams
January 17, 2014
This John Adams quote. I at first thought maybe it was not right. I have read a lot of John Adams stuff. But then I went out hunting and, tragedy, it appears, according to the internet, to be an accurate John Adams quote:
“Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.”
~ John Adams, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States
Wow. That really sucks.
It especially sucks because I am an Adams. Albeit the abandoned Adams. But still, an Adams. And up till now, I kind of held John and Abigail Adams in heroic esteem because, you know, you kind of want to think your relatives/ancestors are cool and the live Adams I have known all pretty much sucked, but John and Abigail were cool.
That quote is practically Birth of a Nation. Jesus.
Don’t know Birth of a Nation? Google is your friend.
What I find especially problematic in the quote is the implication that land holders in the country must guard against rabid attack from anyone not owning property trying to “usurp” a say in government.
Who would these usurpers be? These rabid attackers?
Women could not vote.
People of color could not vote.
Who was left?
The men who built the railroads?
The men who hauled the coal out of the mines?
The men who built the sky scrapers? One iron bar and rivet at a time?
Were these the men to hold guns against because they did not own property but might at some time rise up and say, We built this nation, we never got paid enough to buy a piece of land, but we deserve a voice in the governing of that land?
Fuck you John Adams.