125+ Best John Quincy Adams Quotes: Exclusive Selection

John Quincy Adams was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and diarist who served as the sixth president of the United States. Profoundly inspirational John Quincy Adams quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

Famous John Quincy Adams Quotes

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

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

Try and fail, but don’t fail to try. – John Quincy Adams

The Bible contains the revelation of the will of God. It contains the history of the creation of the world, and of mankind. – John Quincy Adams

There is in the clergy of all Christian denominations a timeserving, cringing, subservient morality, as wide from the spirit of the gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of truth. – John Quincy Adams

Westward the star of empire takes its way. – John Quincy Adams

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

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

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

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

This is the last of earth! I am content. – John Quincy Adams

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will be America’s heart, her benedictions and her prayers. – John Quincy Adams

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

This mode of electioneering suited neither my taste nor my principles. I thought it equally unsuitable to my personal character and to the station in which I am placed. – John Quincy Adams

About one-half of the members of Congress are seekers for office at the nomination of the President. Of the remainder, at least one-half have some appointment or favor to ask for their relatives. – John Quincy Adams

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. – John Quincy Adams

The declaration that our People are hostile to a government made by themselves, for themselves, and conducted by themselves, is an insult. – John Quincy Adams

The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue. Slavery has now the power and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom. – John Quincy Adams

The American continents, by the free and independent condition that they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers? In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to ourselves, we have never taken any part; nor does it comport with our policy to do so. – John Quincy Adams

The political system of the United States is essentially extra-European. To stand in firm and cautious independence of all entanglement in the European system has been a cardinal point of their policy under every administration of their government from the peace of 1783 to this day…Every year’s experience rivets it more deeply in the principles and opinions of the nation. – John Quincy Adams

Man wants but little here below nor wants that little long, ‘Tis not with me exactly so; But ’tis so in the song. My wants are many, and, if told, would muster many a score; And were each wish a mint of gold, I still should long for more. – John Quincy Adams

The public history of all countries, and all ages, is but a sort of mask, richly colored. The interior working of the machinery must be foul. – John Quincy Adams

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

The harmony of the nation is promoted and the whole Union is knit together by the sentiments of mutual respect, the habits of social intercourse, and the ties of personal friendship formed between the representatives of its several parts in the performance of their service at this metropolis. – John Quincy Adams

Death fixes forever the relation existing between the departed spirit and the survivors upon earth. – John Quincy Adams

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

America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. – John Quincy Adams

A man’s diary is a record in youth of his sentiments, in middle age of his actions, in old age of his reflections. – John Quincy Adams

I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in on by the storms, and, from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair. – John Quincy Adams

To a man of liberal education, the study of history is not only useful, and important, but altogether indispensable, and with regard to the history contained in the Bible …it is not so much praiseworthy to be acquainted with as it is shameful to be ignorant of it. – John Quincy Adams

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

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. – John Quincy Adams

The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. – John Quincy Adams

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. – John Quincy Adams

I have made it a practice for several years to read the Bible through in the course of every year. I usually devote to this reading the first hour after I rise every morning. As, including the Apocrypha, it contains about fourteen hundred chapters, and as I meet with occasional interruptions, when this reading is for single days, and sometimes for weeks, or even months, suspended, my rule is to read five chapters every morning, which leaves an allowance of about one-forth of the time for such interruptions. – John Quincy Adams

I want a warm and faithful friend, To cheer the adverse hour; Who ne’er to flatter will descend, Nor bend the knee to power,- A friend to chide me when I’m wrong, My inmost soul to see; And that my friendship prove as strong For him as his for me. – John Quincy Adams

The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth. Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper till the Lord shall have made ‘bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God’ (Isaiah 52:10). – John Quincy Adams

His face is livid, gaunt his whole body, his breath is green with gall; his tongue drips poison. – John Quincy Adams

My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the Gospel of Christ and I cannot cavil or quibble away… the whole tenor of His conduct by which He sometimes positively asserted and at others countenances His disciples in asserting that He was God. – John Quincy Adams

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. – John Quincy Adams

All that I am my mother made me. – John Quincy Adams

The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived. – John Quincy Adams

The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented . . . no insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. – John Quincy Adams

Human life, from the cradle to the grave, is a school. At every period of his existence man wants a teacher. His pilgrimage upon earth is but a term of childhood, in which he is to be educated for the manhood of a brighter world. As the child must be educated for manhood upon earth, so the man must be educated upon earth, for heaven; and finally that where the foundation is not laid in time, the superstructure cannot rise for eternity. – John Quincy Adams

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. – John Quincy Adams

The firmest security of peace is the preparation during peace of the defenses of war. – John Quincy Adams

My stern chase after time is, to borrow a simile from Tom Paine, like the race of a man with a wooden leg after a horse. – John Quincy Adams

Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day (the 4th of July)? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? – John Quincy Adams

The manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable in a nation or not. – John Quincy Adams

And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of order, the Fountain of justice, and the Protector, in all ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its government, and give it all possible success and duration, consistent with the ends of His providence. – John Quincy Adams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us not be unmindful that liberty is power, that the nation blessed with the largest portion of liberty must in proportion to its numbers be the most powerful nation upon earth. 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. Always vote for a principle, though you vote alone, and you may cherish the sweet reflection that your vote is never lost. America, in the assembly of nations, has uniformly spoken among them the language of equal liberty, equal justice, and equal rights. – John Quincy Adams

From the experience of the past we derive instructive lessons for the future. – John Quincy Adams

Whoever tells the best story wins. – John Quincy Adams

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

My custom is to read four or five chapters of the Bible every morning immediately after rising. It seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the day. It is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue. – John Quincy Adams

I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet. – John Quincy Adams

I do conscientiously and sincerely believe that the Order of Freemasonry, if not the greatest, is one of the greatest moral and political evils under which the Union is now laboring … a conspiracy of the few against the equal rights of the many …Masonry ought forever to be abolished. It is wrong – essentially wrong – a seed of evil, which can never produce any good. – John Quincy Adams

The Sermon on the Mount commands me to lay up for myself treasures, not upon earth, but in Heaven. My hopes of a future life are all founded upon the Gospel of Christ. – John Quincy Adams

From the day of the Declaration…they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct. – John Quincy Adams

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. – John Quincy Adams

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air. These qualities have ever been displayed in their mightiest perfection, as attendants in the retinue of strong passions. – John Quincy Adams

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

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

I have myself, for many years, made it a practice to read through the Bible once ever year…. My custom is, to read four to five chapters every morning immediately after rising from my bed. I employs about an hour of my time…. – John Quincy Adams

I told him it was law logic-an artificial system of reasoning, exclusively used in courts of justice, but good for nothing anywhere else. – John Quincy Adams

This hand, to tyrants ever sworn the foe, For Freedom only deals the deadly blow; Then sheathes in calm repose the vengeful blade, For gentle peace in Freedom’s hallowed shade. – John Quincy Adams

I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year. – John Quincy Adams

Who but shall learn that freedom is the prize Man still is bound to rescue or maintain; That nature’s God commands the slave to rise, And on the oppressor’s head to break the chain. Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round, Till not a slave shall on this earth by found. – John Quincy Adams

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

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

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

It is essential..that you should form and adopt certain rules or principles, for the government of your own conduct and temper. Unless you have such rules and principles, there will be numberless occasions on which you will have no guide for your government but your passions..It is in the Bible, you must learn them, and from the Bible how to practice them. – John Quincy Adams

The attainment of knowledge is the high and exclusive attribute of man, among the numberless myriads of animated beings, inhabitants of the terrestrial globe. On him alone is bestowed, by the bounty of the Creator of the universe, the power and the capacity of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge is the attribute of his nature which at once enables him to improve his condition upon earth, and to prepare him for the enjoyment of a happier existence hereafter. – John Quincy Adams

The four most miserable years of my life were my four years in the presidency. – John Quincy Adams

Let us consider an alternative style of thinking, which we can call ‘creative thinking.’ It is playfully instructive to note that the word ‘reactive’ and the word ‘creative’ are made up of exactly the same letters. The only difference between the two is that you ‘C’ [see] differently. – John Quincy Adams

Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round, till not a slave shall on this earth be found. – John Quincy Adams

I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong. – John Quincy Adams

The best guarantee against the abuse of power consists in the freedom, the purity, and the frequency of popular elections. – John Quincy Adams

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. – John Quincy Adams

Every temptation is an opportunity of our getting nearer to God. – John Quincy Adams

Not stones, nor wood, nor the art of artisans make a state; but where men are who know how to take care of themselves, these are cities and walls. – John Quincy Adams

The art of making love, muffled up in furs, in the open air, with the thermometer at Zero, is a Yankee invention. – John Quincy Adams

The will of the people is the source and the happiness of the people the end of all legitimate government upon earth. – John Quincy Adams

In what light so ever we regard the Bible, whether with reference to revelation, to history, or to morality, it is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue. – John Quincy Adams

If there have been those who doubted whether a confederated representative democracy were a government competent to the wise and orderly management of the common concerns of a mighty nation, those doubts have been dispelled. – John Quincy Adams

I appear, my fellow-citizens, in your presence and in that of Heaven to bind myself by the solemnities of religious obligation to the faithful performance of the duties allotted to me in the station to which I have been called. – John Quincy Adams

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

Of the two great political parties which have divided the opinions and feelings of our country, the candid and the just will now admit that both have contributed splendid talents, spotless integrity, ardent patriotism, and disinterested sacrifices to the formation and administration of this Government, and that both have required a liberal indulgence for a portion of human infirmity and error. – John Quincy Adams

Among the sentiments of most powerful operation upon the human heart, and most highly honorable to the human character, are those of veneration for our forefathers and of love for our posterity. – John Quincy Adams

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 G-d! – John Quincy Adams

There is nothing so deep and nothing so shallow which political enmity will not turn to account. – John Quincy Adams

The origin of the political relations between the United States and France is coeval with the first years of our independence. The memory of it is interwoven with that of our arduous struggle for national existence. Weakened as it has occasionally been since that time, it can by us never be forgotten, and we should hail with exultation the moment which should indicate a recollection equally friendly in spirit on the part of France. – John Quincy Adams

Our Constitution rests on the good sense and the respect of the American people. – John Quincy Adams

I would much rather be found guilty of making a serious mistake in judgment, than to be accused of being even a little bit insincere. – John Quincy Adams

Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Saviour? – John Quincy Adams

The mere title of lawyer is sufficient to deprive a man of the public confidence. … The most innocent and irreproachable life cannot guard a lawyer against the hatred of his fellow citizens. – John Quincy Adams

We know the redemption must come. – John Quincy Adams

The law is an artificial human construct, quite arbitrary, and of absolutely no use anywhere else but in a court of law! – John Quincy Adams

But America is a great, unwieldy Body. Its Progress must be slow… Like a Coach and six – the swiftest Horses must be slackened and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even Pace. – John Quincy Adams

The gigantic intellect, the envious temper, the ravenous ambition and the rotten heart of Daniel Webster. – John Quincy Adams

It is so obvious to every reasonable being that he did not make himself, and the world in which he inhabits could as little make itself, that the moment we begin to exercise the power of reflection, it seems impossible to escape the conviction that there is a Creator. – John Quincy Adams

The Constitution had provided that all the public functionaries of the Union…should be under oath or affirmation for its support. The homage of religious faith was thus superadded to all the obligations of temporal law to give it strength. – John Quincy Adams

The magistrate is the servant not of his own desires, not even of the people, but of his God – John Quincy Adams

To live without having a Cicero and a Tacitus at hand seems to me as if it was abbreviation of one of my limbs. – John Quincy Adams

Whether to the nation or to the state, no service can be or ever will be rendered by a more able or a more faithful public servant. – John Quincy Adams

A barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and hardly could spell his own name…. One of our tribe of great men who turn disease to commodity…he craves the sympathy for sickness as a portion of his glory. – John Quincy Adams

A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent…sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country. – John Quincy Adams

To believe that everyone is honest is folly, but to believe that no one is honest is worse. – John Quincy Adams

A stout heart, a clear conscience, and never despair. – John Quincy Adams

Our political way of life is by the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, and of course presupposes the existence of God, the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong, of just and unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and government. – John Quincy Adams

The extremes of opulence and of want are more remarkable, and more constantly obvious, in [Great Britain] than in any other place that I ever saw. – John Quincy Adams

It has been my custom for many years to read the Bible in its entirety once a year – John Quincy Adams

Slavery is the great and foul stain upon the North American Union… A dissolution, at least temporary, of the Union, as now constituted, would now be certainly necessary… The Union might then be reorganized on the fundamental principle of emancipation. – John Quincy Adams

The great problem of legislation is, so to organize the civil government of a community … that in the operation of human institutions upon social action, self-love and social may be made the same. – John Quincy Adams

A stranger would think that the people of the United States had no other occupation than electioneering. – John Quincy Adams

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