"If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest, or that of their families, counties, and party, to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution, in favor of justice, to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations... And that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history... To remedy the dangers attendant upon the arbitrary use of power, checks, however multiplied, will scarcely avail without an explicit admission some limitation of the right of the majority to exercise sovereign authority over the individual citizen... In popular governments [democracies], minorities [individuals] constantly run much greater risk of suffering from arbitrary power than in absolute monarchies..."
by:
John Adams
(1735-1826) Founding Father, 2nd US President
Source:
"On Government", (1778)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Democracy in pure form is Demonocracy. As Mr. Adams said, "And that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history..."
 -- Anon     
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    John Adams was an incredible player in the early days of our country. Recent publications have addressed how important he was to our early years as a nation-state. Very few understand the subtle power struggle(s) involved in the birth of the USA. Our founding fathers had a nearly unbelieveable understanding of the perils involved in creating a system where the people ruled. At our current point in time, we are rather suddenly staring down a fundamental change in the underpinning of our country and society. When, and if, we migrate to the sort of mob rule/socalism that Mr. Obama is the creature of, we are doomed! That our second President recognized this centuries ago must give us pause. In God we trust is our only salvation. The sad part of that trust is its removal from the machinations of the state to a purely individual state. God bless America, the people, not the state!
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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    Yes, it's" demonstrated in every page of history" but we never seem to remember history, and very little history is taught in our public schools.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    He was a great mind but in recent years the protections for the minority has been perverted to such an extent that we now have the minority oppressing the majority. We have the whole system breaking down rather that apply a little common sense.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    This is so clear. Adams continually brought to the forefront the distinctions between majority rule and individual rights always defending the individual's natural born rights against a ruling majority that attempts to use the force of numbers to persecute those who will not 'fall into line.' A republican government is a government of laws, a limited government not unlimited, just as whatever democracy there may be in American jurisprudence, it is still a limited democracy, limited by the unalienable rights of every person.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Amen, and Amen.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    I would trade the conveniences of today for life in the U.S. when Washington, Adams , Jefferson and Franklin (to name only a few) were the intelligencia in America. President Obama and the liberal left have proven their ignorance, arrogance and con- tempt for our great nation. They have become fools in their own wisdom and are willing to destroy our very foundations in order to advance their socialistic philosophy. They duped the public in November, but with God's help we will take back our country in 2010. May God continue to protect America from her enemies here at home.
     -- B.J. Vicha, Port Charlotte     
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    The founding fathers were radical liberal progressives of their day . You take the quotes out of context to suite you idiocracy. Conservatives in 1776 opposed independence and were Tories and Loyalists. As Mark Twain said “Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals” “The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.” Just remember there are just as many or more of us out here with an opposing view and were just keeping quiet for now because we're still in the drivers seat.
     -- Don, Cincinnati     
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    Don is correct. One need look only at the willingness here to make completely unsupported statements here about Obama, little more than name calling really, to see how the founding father's names are invoked in ways that twist their beliefs and values. The excellent J. Adams quote today applied direclty to the gay rights movement of today, for example, where a majority in this country, supported by right wing opportunists, seeks to continue persecuting a minority.
     -- Scott F., Pearland, Texas     
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    its the best
     -- hrishi, troy mi     
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    TODAY most governments are tyrannical; once they get into power they care very little for the common man who put them on the throne. what an irony is this
     -- Anonymous, kuala lukpur     
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    The wisdom of the founders applies to this and every age. It is time to get back to the Constitution and away from the Marxist / Globalist trend that is stealing the individual rights of us all. Too many puppet Presidents in a row that care not for basic justice are destroying this country, with the latest being the absolute worst in US history.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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