Adams Papers

From John Adams to Jeremy Belknap, 30 April 1789

The more the subject is considered, the sooner all men will be convinced, that human passions are all insatiable; that, instead of being extinguished, moderated, or contented, they always strengthen by indulgence and gratification; and therefore, that the only security against them is in checks, whether in civil or ecclesiastical societies.

This is no more true with regard to the love of power, than it is with regard to the love of riches, of fame, of honor, or of pleasure. While we see and acknowledge it to be the constitution of our nature; the quality to which we owe our activity and industry, our virtues and our happiness; we ought, instead of quarrelling with it, to be only on our guard against its tendency to abuse to vice and misery when uncontrolled.

I thank you, sir, for giving me this opportunity of assuring you that I am, with great esteem, / Your most obedient servant,

John Adams.

Printed Source--Jane Belknap, Life of Jeremy Belknap, D.D. (Boston, 1847)..

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