Thursday, January 10, 2008

. . . or we are all undone

"We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy. God grant they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain influence by noise, not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls. . . . There is one thing, my dear sir, that must be attempted and most sacredly observed or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect, and veneration introduced for persons of authority of every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is our only way."

John Adams, writing to James Warren, quoted in David McCullough, John Adams, page 106.