"He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country
who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power
and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any
office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man...
The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven,
let us become a virtuous people."
by:
Samuel Adams
(1722-1803), was known as the "Father of the American Revolution."
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Reader comments about this quote:
I like the quote it tells that he is really thoughtful.
 -- Chadd, Vancouver     
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    Samuel Adams ~ the John Rosseau & John Locke of the American Rebellion
     -- dragonswizardz     
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    From an atheistic standpoint, this quote is worthless. Virtue, if not determined by an "authority" figure or source (deity, God, etc.) is purely relative. Science cannot determine virtue. There is no right or wrong in science, only what works and what doesn't; accordingly, who's to say what works or what doesn't, or what is virtuous and what is not? What makes one man's opinion of what is supposedly right or wrong, virtuous or un-virtuous, over what someone else says? Someone could say that Edison was wrong a thousand times, before creating the light bulb; however, as Edison said, he never failed to create a light bulb, he just found thousands of different ways of not creating one. There is no way to scientifically solve the quandary of virtue; it must be resolved on a philosophical level of belief. Science is all that is left an atheist, because it is all that can be proven. Otherwise, his belief on the un-provable is on the same level of "faith" as a full-fledged-bible-bashing-southern-Baptist. No one can not believe in a God, and also believe in absolute virtue; it is impossible. Without an authority figure that is, for all intents and purposes, omniscient, everything is up to opinion, and can only be ruled as "fact" when it is in the presence of the majority ("democracy of knowledge", as it were). In science, there is never a solution, only more questions. Thank God there is more to this life than the perpetual confusion and non-resolving of atheistic science: the virtue of liberty being the one of these things.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    Logan left out WISE. We actually voted for GW Bush who certainly is neither virtuous (moral excellence and good) nor wise. And then we voted for him again. Deliberately...which would mean that We the People who did this are neither virtuous nor wise. And the voters, Logan, are predominately "Christian" believers and in those 10 commandments, hm?
     -- A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL     
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    Right on A! I think Logan has it wrong on how to measure virtue... We the People set the bar, it is a measure set forth by society/community... in this case the entirety of humanity... we do seem to have a global sense of what is "right and wrong"... what is "good and bad"... and this is well represented by the number of good and true Americans who have apologized to the world for our fellow Americans having twice elected King George, who is reigning terror upon so much of the world.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    Reston, thank you for proving my point! First of all, the "entirety of humanity" has not set forth what is right or wrong. You're right though, in an atheistic world, knowledge comes by democracy (whether through consent or force); or, in another term, "wikiality". In an atheistic world "We the People" are forced to define what is virtuous, and what is not. But there is a problem with this. In such a case, who is to say if the majority is right? What is "right" to begin with? Why is something right or wrong? Who is the virtue police? Is it un-virtuous for animals to kill? If not, then it shouldn't be wrong for us to kill; however, why is it wrong? If there is no God, we are all reoccurring accidents billions of years in the making and our present definitions of right and wrong are worthless; pain, suffering, joy, and happiness are all relative. Right and wrong are then concepts thought up by some majority thousands of years ago; who's to say if they were "right"? If we ask if the majority who made the definition or "right" was actually "right" their definition of "right", then our heads will explode. Maybe they were wrong in their definition of "right", or of "wrong"? Just because a majority votes a thing to be "Christian", virtuous, or wise, doesn't mean that it is. Thank God. I'm not arguing whether or not a God actually even exists; I'm just saying, let's call a spade a spade here. If there isn't a God, then we have to come to the cosmic reality of what that means. You cannot be an atheist and borrow upon religion's dogma of right and wrong; because, if there isn't a God, there is no cosmic right and wrong to define, because absolutely everything is relative. If there is a God, then we have to submit our pride unto the will of a God who has defined the infinite and eternal; a thing that this nation obviously hasn't done in a very, very, very long time.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    This quote is 'such stuff as dreams are made of.' We may try to promote virtue but when ignorance so far outnumbers us we shall suffer and suffer like hell for too little choice is left us. Logan says that "science is all that can be proven." How can he belittle that when absolutely nothing can be proven by religion Even he holiest of the religious admit their only resort is faith. Faith--not reason, not proof.
     -- Dick, Fort Worth     
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    I would only rate the quote at two stars max, for the first part only, nothing for the Heaven part, but I give Logan's comments five stars - at least as I understand them. I am an atheist and I think he described, basically, an atheist's thinking on the science of virtue better than anyone I have read who doesn't claim to be an atheist himself. I don't know about "borrowing" from religion for a concept of virtue, however. I think it is simply in the realm of "social" science to determine, as in any other science, what works and what doesn't. I have often considered the many cultures that practice animal, and even human, sacrifices to demonstrate virtue. To them it makes perfect sense, no matter how difficult it is for us to understand. Just as many today believe society cannot avenge certain crimes without exacting the death penalty, even while believing it is wrong to kill a person.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    Would that honor and wisdom were the standards by which Americans elected their leaders.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Oh no! He said heaven and virtue, generic religious concepts of no specification; now if he belittled the constitution like Rev, Robison or Sharpton and ran for office or Hymie Town Jesse and that Jesuit.
     -- Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday, Vancouver, GVRD(Paine Cnty), Coastal Lwr Mainland BC(State of Neo Sumer), U.S. of Eh!     
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     -- Joe, Rochester, MI      
    If virtue is only what the majority agrees that it is, and has no absolute value, than the virtue could assume any values, like it did in Nazi Germany. Samual Adams says that a patriot will promote the ideals of Liberty that this country was founded upon. As much as this offends atheists, the personal virtues that Samual Adams lifts up, are the virtues as described by the Judeo-Christian belief system. Without wise and virtuous leaders, the ideals of liberty that this country was founded upon will quickly wither and die and be replaced by a government that does not value the concept that all liberties and freedoms are endowed by our Creator and that the purpose of government is to protect those liberties and freedoms from all internal and external enimies of these ideals. If we choose for ourselves leaders who are not wise and virtuous we are doomed to tyrranical rule.
     -- Alan, mytown, MI     
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     -- Anonymous, lala land      
    Never were words more truly spoken. And now we are seeing what happens when you forget that there IS such a thing as ultimate truth, ultimate virtue. RIP to the idea of real liberty in this gray, lost, un-virtuous country. The nanny state we've allowed to take over from us will try to intervene "to protect us from ourselves", but it will only strip us of the few remaining freedoms we have thus far protected. There IS ultimate truth. Saying there isn't because you think there isn't is like screaming that yellow is pink because you said so. And if you believe that there is NOT ultimate truth, nothing you say has any weight because you don't believe in reason anyway, so don't bother arguing. ;)
     -- Ana, Maryland     
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    samuel adams, no dought stands upon the same rock as andrew jackson. if our liberty were not a great force (virtue) then it would not be sought out by all opressed nations. the absolute truth is believed not douted.nor the source form where it comes. phi 4:8 finally, breathen, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue,and if there be any praise, think on these things. not all men have faith. thank God for faithful men, our founding fathers.phi 4:9 those things, which you have both learned and received,and heard, and seen in me,do; and the God of peace shall be with you. men saved by grace through faith, the faith of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. born of the seed of david. who shed his blood for libertys sake. liberty from what? you say. liberty from death ! whether spiritual or phisical makes no differance. for both come together in a truely free nation. strangers children do not understand nor there parents, who bring in strange gods into our country. relishing in our freedom and speaking evil of our Saviour Jesus Christ. useing our laws to opress us. is our president a true christian. or is he ashamed of the gospel of Christ which gives us freedom from the law of sin and opression. double minded is no mind at all ! God does not compromise !
     -- R. Pittman, FL.     
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    Logan, Virtue? We don't need hard science to prove even a liar doesn't like being lied to. Rick
     -- Rick, Erie     
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    @Logan, Memphis, TN: Aristotle was the first "scientist" to perceive a basic unit of all physical matter, in 360 BC. It took more than 2,000 years for other scientists to develop a means to see this unit, despite the fact some of them had already defined its properties, mapped its behavior and split it, creating the (to-date) most widely acknowledged destructive weapon of mass destruction (though my personal belief is that AIDS is). I am speaking, of course, about the atom. I point this out so that you may consider that (a) such things as immutable truths do exist, whether we can "see" them or not; (b) not everything that can be known about the human experience of these truths can be known through our present scientific tools, whatever they may be at any given time, no matter how "scientific" any particular inquiry may seem; (c) immutable truths, from whatever reductive source they may come, are sometimes difficult to discern and we must always, therefore, be open to new ways of looking at them (their effects v. their properties); (d) as a corollary to the previous proposition, you may wish to consider that just because your keen intellect rejects the fallacious mean-old-man-in-the-sky god of fundamentalists, it may not necessarily reject the "existence" of the G_d of Moses and Jesus (and many of us living today), which is one such immutable truth (if G_d didn't exist, to what are we referring when we say that G_d doesn't exist?). As to virtue, millennia of recorded thought and history has told us what it is -- as well as the 7 vices. At the heart of all of these affirmative and negative covenants is respect -- respect for self, respect for others, respect for our relationships. This is not subject to bias; everyone requires respect. I can see how, if you came of age in the 1990s, you have been deluded into thinking -- through some tenets of "multicultural" education, which hold that so-called "values" such as corporal punishment are African-American because African-Americans lives depended on their having been (some would say, complicit in) cooperative with their slavers -- that virtues are biased (as if African-Americans neither require not desire such a thing as respect), and that the founding fathers were just a bunch of rich, white elitists who only wanted power for themselves. That has been the propaganda for more years than it should have been. To the founding fathers, all citizens -- whether property owning or not -- had the rights enshrined in the constitution. True -- they left the issue of slavery (which affected vast numbers of people who were not kidnapped from Africa also) for future generations to decide, just as they left the issue of suffrage of all women, no matter the color of their skin. To our progenitors' credit, they abolished these inhumane institutions. But that doesn't change the fact the founding fathers gave us a pretty terrific system of government that, were we to elect the virtuous men they told us we must, would be the envy of the world once again. They were concerned with the rights of the citizenry at the time they founded this (now dead) constitutional republic, and they clearly foresaw a time in our history when that citizenry would be constituted of many different types of PEOPLE. That's why the first amendment grants life, liberty, etc. to PEOPLE and not white men. In any case, Ana, from Maryland, makes the point less diplomatically but just as eloquently that if you believe you haven't anything of value to add to a discussion that may have ramifications far beyond the blogosphere, as you apparently do, then play with your brain on your own time. This is intended to be a community. www.dontfearyourfreedom.blogspot.com
     -- Saoirse, East Coast, USA     
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    Though some 'virtues' appear to be global - even extending into the realm of every form of life, what most humans mean by the designation of 'virtue' is a set of values defined by the 'local' culture and are not, therefore, necessarily universal. They are all too often sectarian, parochial, and clannish.

    Witness Chris Christie, a Roman Catholic who can simply be forgiven at confession so that he can find himself free to repeat the bad behavior because, well, you know, more confession, where confession is a 'virtue'. You can't argue with belief. It's the one thing that reason can't penetrate and, ... it's also a 'virtue', or so I've heard it said, generally by the self-appointed 'virtuous'.
     -- anonymous     
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    An excellent guide towards good politics - that particularly as the citizens' committment towards excercising their political rights in earnest. Yes - the success or failure does depend on the degree of political decadence-- but that is no reason why we get to know what a citizen ought to be doing.
     -- Vedapushpa, Bangalore - India     
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    What do I think?
    I think this quote is a perfect example of a truism. It is advice without a reason: "It is good to be good." But even more amazing is such a useless quote can inspire so many comments.
    Walt
     -- Walter Clark, Fullerton, CA     
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    True measure of a man's moral strength and spiritual standing is his power to empathise with fellow human being and commitment to truth and dignity above all else. Disagreement with such a thinker in no way detracts from his worth and lofty disposition.
     -- jitendra, Gurgaon, India     
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    As Logan above stated well, terms such as virtue, good and bad are terms of art depending on a specific society's actions. The Adams' use of virtue was a Judeo-Christian projection of truth, love, etc. as it relates to natural law. It is a statement on an immoral / non-virtuous society (Adam's use of the term) that would elect King George the torturer or Mr. Obamunist Goodwrench the assassin. The Adam's related term, at law, will bring about prosperity, charity, freedom and liberty. A liberal / socialist / progressive's related term, at law, will bring about poverty, a caste system, slavery, despotism and tyranny. Each society's use of the terms bring about differing societies mores (cause and effect).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Very lofty position charged to our founding fathers. Master builders if you will. As Paul being a very zealous lawyer would know, having been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. Frame work is everything. So are a set of blue prints. No other foundation can be laid other than Jesus Christ and him crucified. Let every man take heed how he build thereon. Great plainness of speech is used. Virtue is required of faith, they are married. The ( measure ) of faith hath been dealt to every man, a particular amount. It is about growing up is it not.
    O that the whole truth was preached in every pulpit !, Then our children would be united and not divided as the denominational religious secs teach. Keep the law, be good and confession, then you might get the prize. It is so full of holes, you could not float the boat if you had to ! Doubt is confusion. God is not the author of confusion. Much is spoken of virtue and its attributes. But nothing of Heaven and the dictates of attributes ordained by God through natural law, which is common ground for discussion, and debate.
    The Heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. With that being said, the knowledge is cyclical in nature. As a certain religious sec, well known for its understanding in the matters of natural law concerning attributes and the dictates thereof do declare. To combine the knowledge of heaven and earth brings harmony to the child of God. Much more consideration and study are needed on these subjects. They are subjective fact. As the laws of nature. Rightly dividing the word of truth as Paul states in 2 Tim 2:15 Allows for notes in the song to have distinction one from the other. Otherwise how can one tell one note from the other.
     -- watchman 13, USA     
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    Our Founders were wise and we would be wise by visiting their wisdom upon our government today. Why? America is sliding into despotism very quickly. As Ben Franklin stated, "In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.: Art 7, Document 3

    Benjamin Franklin to the Federal Convention

    17 Sept. 1787Farrand 2:641--43
     -- Jermo, Belfair     
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