American Independence was Achieved Upon the
Principles of Christianity
Without wishing to damp the Ardor of curiosity, or influence the freedom
of inquiry, I will hazard a prediction, that after the most industrious
and impartial Researches, the longest liver of you all, will find no Principles,
Institutions, or Systems of Education, more fit, IN GENERAL to be transmitted
to your Posterity, than those you have received from you[r] Ancestors.
Who composed that Army of fine young Fellows that was then before my
Eyes? There were among them, Roman Catholicks, English Episcopalians, Scotch
and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anababtists, German
Lutherans, German Calvinists Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians,
Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants and House Protestants,
Deists and Atheists; and "Protestans qui ne croyent rien ["Protestants
who believe nothing"]." Very few however of several of these Species. Nevertheless
all Educated in the general Principles of Christianity: and the general
Principles of English and American Liberty.
Could my Answer be understood, by any candid Reader or Hearer, to recommend,
to all the others, the general Principles, Institutions or Systems of Education
of the Roman Catholicks? Or those of the Quakers? Or those of the Presbyterians?
Or those of the Menonists? Or those of the Methodists? or those of the
Moravians? Or those of the Universalists? or those of the Philosophers?
The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence,
were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen
could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their
Address, or by me in my Answer. And what were these general Principles?
I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects
were united: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty,
in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in
America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.
Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general
Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence
and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable
as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System. I could therefore
safely say, consistently with all my then and present Information, that
I believed they would never make Discoveries in contradiction to these
general Principles. In favour of these general Principles in Phylosophy,
Religion and Government, I could fill Sheets of quotations from Frederick
of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Reausseau and Voltaire, as
well as Neuton and Locke: not to mention thousands of Divines and Philosophers
of inferiour Fame.
Source: John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28th, 1813, from Quincy.
The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The
Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John
Adams, edited by Lester J. Cappon,
1988, the University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, pp.