Friday, October 03rd, 2008 | Author:

[This post is part of the Favorite Founders' Quote Friday sponsored by Meet the Founding Fathers. Go to the site to see who else has participated today.]


A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader.

Our FFQF theme for October is virtue. I was overwhelmed by the choice of quotes, and I’m glad that we have five Fridays this month! But for today, I’ve settled on this one from The Original Writings of Samuel Adams, Volume 4. It’s taken from a letter written to James Warren, and clearly illustrates the difference between the leaders of yesterday and today. Can you imagine these words in a campaign speech from Obama or McCain?

How this country has changed! Our leaders no longer seek to be examples of character, to encourage and help us to live better lives. They don’t direct us to God, the One and only source of goodness. Today they seek only our votes, making empty promises, so they can acquire positions of earthly power. May God have mercy on us, and raise up true leaders.

Here are Sam’s words in full context.

TO JAMES WARREN.

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADE Feb 12 -79

MY DEAR SR

Will you be so kind as to present my due Regards to Mrs Warren and let her know that immediately on my receiving her Letter for Miss Wray I deliverd it to the Care of my worthy Friend Colo Laurens who has since informd me that he has forwarded it in his own Packet to South Carolina.

I have lately written several Letters to my Friend Dr C & have informd him that you & he & Mr S are my only confidential Correspondents in Boston. I have other trusty Friends there, but I have not Leisure to write to them all. I have expressd my wish that the honest & virtuous Friends of our Country would cultivate a cordial Esteem for each other. I am affraid there are little Jealousies among them which prevent their uniting their Councils and Efforts against that Inundation of Levity Vanity Luxury Dissipation & indeed Vice of every kind which I am informd threatens that Country which has heretofore stood with unexampled Firmness in the Cause of Liberty and Virtue. This Torrent must be stemmed, and in order to do it effectually, there must be Associations of Men of unshaken Fortitude. A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader. How necessary then is it for those who are determind to transmit the Blessings of Liberty as a fair Inheritance to Posterity, to associate on publick Principles in Support of publick Virtue. I do verily believe, and I may say it inter Nos, that the Principles & Manners of N Engd, producd that Spirit which finally has establishd the Independence of America; and Nothing but opposite Principles and Manners can overthrow it. If you are of my Mind, and I think you are, the Necessity of supporting the Education of our Country must be strongly impressd on your Mind. It gives me the greatest Concern to hear that some of our Gentlemen in the Country begin to think the Maintenance of Schools too great a Burden. I wish they could hear the Encomiums that are given to N Engd by some of the most sensible & publick spirited Gentlemen in the southern States, for the Care & Expence which have been freely borne by our Ancestors & continued to this time for the Instruction of youth. Virginia is duly sensible of the great Importance of Education, and, as a friend in that Country informs me, has lately adopted an effectual Plan for that necessary Purpose. If Virtue & Knowledge are diffusd among the People, they will never be enslavd. This will be their great Security. Virtue & Knowledge will forever be an even Balance for Powers & Riches. I hope our Countrymen will never depart from the Principles & Maxims which have been handed down to us from our wise forefathers. This greatly depends upon the Example of Men of Character & Influence of the present Day. This is a Subject my Heart is much set upon. But I fear I have wearied your Patience. I will conclude with my most ardent Prayer that our last Days may be our best Days and our last Works our best Works.

Adieu my dear Friend,

Pay my due Regards to your Circle in Plymouth. Are you intimate with Mr D. I mentiond him to you in a former Letter as an excellent Republican.

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2 Responses
  1. Hercules Mulligan says:

    Fabulous quote, Jean! And how true and relevant today! Thanks for including the whole letter; it adds the historical context, that brings the situation to life.

    Well, my post, which is a little late today, is finally up! You can read it here.

  2. Mrs. Mecomber says:

    I absolutely ADORE Sam Adams. This is a jewel, a wonderful meat pot for feasting on the glories of our virtuous republic. It’s worth fighting for.

    Thanks for posting it. God bless.