Status: Quotable

From Egg to Rose

Jul 23
“Our geographical distance is insensible still to foreigners.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams dated May 17, 1795

Okay, it’s only 1795 and the country is less than a third of the size it will grow to be, and people already had trouble grasping the enormity of the US. And what do you mean STILL? You’re not allowed to express incredulity 19 years after you formed the country. Get back to me in another 219 years.


“Those who dread Monarchy and Aristocracy and at the same time Advocate War are the most inconsistent of all men.” John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson dated May 11, 1794

“Young poets complain often that life is fleeting and transient. We find in it seasons and situations however which move heavily enough.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams dated February 2, 1788

“Elections, my dear sir, Elections to offices which are great objects of Ambition, I look at with terror. Experiments of this kind have been so often tryed, and so universally found productive of Horrors, that there is great Reason to dread them”

John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson dated December 6, 1787

Okay let’s just take a moment here because this is heartbreaking. Because of course what Adams is referring to is the violence and resistance that often accompany regime changes, and they were essentially founding a country on the hope that peaceful elections were actually possible, which nobody believed. But turns out they were, which was the great miracle of the founding of this country. But that’s another subject. The reason this is heartbreaking is because even though the elections didn’t tear the country apart, the political differences between Adams and Jefferson only became pronounced enough to affect their friendship after Adams became president, and they continued to prevent the friendship from being restored after Jefferson was elected. And in that context, this quote feels like tragic foreshadowing, and it’s so sad!


Jul 19
“We I hope shall be left free to avail ourselves of the advantages of neutrality: and yet much I fear the English, or rather their stupid king, will force us out of it. For thus I reason. By forcing us into the war against them they will be engaged in an expensive land war as well as a sea war. Common sense dictates therefore that they should let us remain neuter: ergo they will not let us remain neuter. I never yet found any other general rule for foretelling what they will do, but that of examining what they ought not to do.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams dated September 28, 1787

Apparently Americans didn’t like the British too much in 1787. Go figure.


“All the Perplexities, Confusions, and Distresses in America arise not from defects in their Constitutions or Confederation, not from a want of Honour or Virtue, So much as from downright Ignorance of the Nature of Coin, Credit and Circulation.”

John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson dated August 25, 1787

Still true? Perhaps worth noting that Adams is not referring to Americans in general here but specifically to Congress.


Jul 18
“We’ve had a doozy of a day.”

Tucker, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

The rest of this quote is also great, but this is the part that lately I’ve found seems to apply to many of the days in my life.


Jul 15
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so that not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams dated February 22, 1787

To be fair, the specific rebellion that prompted this sentiment was Shays’ Rebellion, and as this rebellion was fairly far removed from the immediate concerns of Thomas Jefferson but occurred in Abigail Adams’ home state of Massachusetts, she had considerably different feelings on the matter.


“I can never fear that things will go far wrong where common sense has fair play.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams dated December 20, 1786

Jul 11

(via movie-junkie)


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