70 Fascinating John Quincy Adams Quotes

John Quincy Adams, sixth US president, is a great American hero with a great reputation attributed to his many actions and sayings. John Quincy was born on 11th July 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts and he was the first son of President John Adams. John Quincy was an outspoken person and went by the name Old Man Eloquent. Throughout his life, he was a famous diplomat, senator, and US president, and he later died on 23rd Feb 1848, in Washington DC.

The famous journey of John Quincy Adams began when he became a diplomat and started to help his father as his secretary. It is during this time when he participated in negotiating for the Paris Treaty. However, he later became very active in politics, after he graduated from Harvard College, where he was a great contributor to several things, for instance, he supported the neutralization movement.

Through his great and building reputation, he was elected to the Senate where he changed the thoughts of being a federalist. John Quincy then joined the Diplomatic Corps where he became the first minister to Russia and later became the Chief Ghent Treaty negotiator. Generally, all these achievements made him grow deeper into politics. John Quincy continued negotiating for more treaties, while his words and actions created his way to the presidency. He later became the sixth US President in 1825, where he served for a single term. He was a great president with exclusive long-term goals and an excellent reputation, but he was not elected for the second term. However, John Quincy was then elected to the Senate and so he continued to be a statesman.

Throughout his journey, John Quincy Adams kept his great reputation and gave many vigorous speeches about leadership, democracy, independence, liberty, among others. He will forever be remembered for his contribution during America’s revolutionary period, as well as the powerful, encouraging quotes obtained from his speeches, writing, work, thoughts, and life. The following are 41 famous quotes about John Quincy Adams.


John Quincy Adams Quotes

1. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

2. “Duty is ours, results are God’s.” ― John Quincy Adams

3. “To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.” ― John Quincy Adams

4. “Those who take oaths to politically powerful secret societies cannot be depended on for loyalty to a democratic republic.” ― John Quincy Adams

5. “Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.” ― John Quincy Adams

6. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

7. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams quotes you should read

8. “America… goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.” ― John Quincy Adams

9. “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” ― John Quincy Adams

10. “We understand now, we’ve been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding that who we are is who we were.” ― John Quincy Adams

11. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” ― John Quincy Adams

12. “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” ― John Quincy Adams

13. “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. The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.” ― John Quincy Adams

14. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

15. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

16. “Thus situated, the perilous experiment must be made. Let me make it with full deliberations, and be prepared for the consequences.” ― John Quincy Adams

17. “From the experience of the past we derive instructive lessons for the future.” ― John Quincy Adams

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18. “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. Hence,” ― John Quincy Adams

19. “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. They teach that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world; that the church is not a national, political, or provincial establishment; but a congregation of holy men, separated from the world by the receiving of the Holy Spirit.” ― John Quincy Adams

20. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

21. “No book in the world deserves to be so unceasingly studied, and so profoundly meditated upon as the Bible.” ― John Quincy Adams

22. “The founders of your race are not handed down to you, like the fathers of the Roman people, as the sucklings of a wolf. 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. No Gothic scourge of God, no Vandal pest of nations, no fabled fugitive from the flames of Troy, no bastard Norman tyrant, appears among the list of worthies who first landed on the rock, which your veneration has preserved as a lasting monument of their achievement.” ― John Quincy Adams

Inspiring John Quincy Adams quotes

23. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

24. “My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right.” ― John Quincy Adams

25. “Though it cost the blood of millions of white men, let it come. Let justice be done.” ― John Quincy Adams

26. “A politician in this country must be the man of a party. I would fain be the man of my whole country.” ― John Quincy Adams

27. “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. When the mark is shrouded in obscurity, the only substitute for accuracy in the aim is in the multitude of the shafts.” ― John Quincy Adams

28. “Baptists have always strenuously contended for the acknowledgment of this principle, and have labored to propagate it. Nowhere, on the page of history, can an instance be found of Baptists depriving others of their religious liberties, or aiming to do so; but, wherever they have found, even in the darkest ages of intolerance and persecution, they appear to be far in advance of those who surround them, on this important subject. This is simply owing to their adherence to the Gospel of Christ in its purity. Here religious liberty is taught in its fullest extent; and it was only when the Christian church departed from God’s Word, that she sought to crush the rights of conscience; and only when she fully returns to it again, will she cease to cherish a desire to do so.” ― John Quincy Adams

29. “Be a great speaker, become a leader.” ― John Quincy Adams

30. “Occasional war is one of the rigorous instruments in the hands of Providence to give tone to the character of nations.” ― John Quincy Adams

31. “All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.” ― John Quincy Adams

32. “We are now told, indeed, by the learned doctors of the nullification school, that color operates as a forfeiture of the rights of human nature; that a dark skin turns a man into a chattel; that crispy hair transforms a human being into a four-footed beast. The master-priest informs you, that slavery is consecrated and sanctified by the Holy Scriptures and of the old and new Testament. . . My countrymen! These are the tenants of the modern nullification school. Can you wonder if they shrink from the light of free discussion? That they skulk from the grasp of freedom and truth?” ― John Quincy Adams.

33. “Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.” – John Quincy Adams

34. “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” ― John Quincy Adams

35. “I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.” ― John Quincy Adams

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36. “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.” ― John Quincy Adams

37. “This is the last of earth! I am content.” ― John Quincy Adams

38. “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” ― John Quincy Adams

39. “If the fundamental principles in the Declaration of Independence, as self-evident truths, are real truths, the existence of slavery, in any form, is wrong.” ― John Quincy Adams

40. “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. 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. 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.” ― John Quincy Adams

41. “I have to study politics and war so that my sons can study mathematics, commerce, and agriculture, so their sons can study poetry, painting, and music.” ― John Quincy Adams

42. “Idleness is sweet, and its consequences are cruel.” – John Quincy Adams

43. “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She well knows that by enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom.” – John Quincy Adams

44. “No book in the world deserves to be so unceasingly studied, and so profoundly meditated upon as the Bible.” – John Quincy Adams

45. “Whoever tells the best story wins.” – John Quincy Adams

46. “Slavery is the great and foul stain upon the North American Union.” – John Quincy Adams

47. “The natural state of mankind … and I know that this is a controversial idea… is freedom… And the proof is the lengths to which a man, woman, or child will go to regain it once lost. He will break loose his chains. He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try again, against all odds, against all prejudices.” – John Quincy Adams

48. “I speak as a man of the world to men of the world; and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through, and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity.” – John Quincy Adams

49. “Whenever vanity and gaiety, a love of pomp and dress, furniture, equipage, buildings, great company, expensive diversions, and elegant entertainments get the better of the principles and judgments of men and women, there is no knowing where they will stop, nor into what evils, natural, moral, or political, they will lead us.” – John Quincy Adams

Must-read John Quincy Adams quotes

50. “It is by a thorough knowledge of the whole subject that [people] are enabled to judge correctly of the past and to give a proper direction to the future.” – John Quincy Adams

51. “America is a friend of freedom everywhere, but a custodian only of our own.” – John Quincy Adams

52. “There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. 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.” – John Quincy Adams

53. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

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54. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

55. “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 hold his fellow-man in bondage?” – John Quincy Adams

56. “The more you meditate on the laws of Moses, the more striking and brighter does their wisdom appear.” – John Quincy Adams

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?” – John Quincy Adams

58. “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 that of reading itself, to give it all the efficacy of which it is susceptible.” – John Quincy Adams

59. “Where annual elections end where slavery begins.” – John Quincy Adams

60. “The great object of the institution of civil government is the improvement of those who are parties to the social compact.” – John Quincy Adams

61. “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people… it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Quincy Adams

62. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

63. “It was the special purpose of Christ’s appearance upon earth to bring immortality to light.” – John Quincy Adams

64. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

65. “According to the Stoics, all vice was resolvable into folly: according to the Christian principle, it is all the effect of weakness.” – John Quincy Adams

66. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

67. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

68. “It is of no use to discover our own faults and infirmities unless the discovery prompts up to amendment.” – John Quincy Adams

69. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

70. “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.” – John Quincy Adams

See also: Martin Van Buren Quotes

Video: John Quincy Adams in 60 seconds

This is an excellent video from PBS that will give you a quick summary of his life in 60 seconds!


In conclusion, John Quincy Adams was a great president and a prodigious writer and speaker, who never missed a word and delivered his words at the right time. He was a wise man with a great reputation for independence, liberty, leadership, and more.

Today, John Quincy is remembered through his many wise writings, sayings, and quotes. This article has provided you with 41 famous quotes about John Quincy Adams.

Image Credit: “6 John Quincy Adams” by US Department of State is marked with CC PDM 1.0

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