The Birthday Boy
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Today is the day to wish a happy birthday to John Adams - yes our second President! I never thought too much of him until the Adams Chronicles came on tv. I so enjoyed that mini-series and found out what a great person he was. Although he certainly wasn't a very good president (sorry...), he had lots of good sense and integrity, was anti-slavery,wasn't afraid to say what he thought, and was quite a liberated guy for the times!
Following the series, I fairly DEMANDED that my parents take me to see where he lived. So that summer we went to Quincy, MA. We visited the museum; went briefly by his birthplace and the house he moved into when he married Abigail - where son John Quincy was born. We took a tour of the main house. That was incredible - to actually see where they lived and all those family heirlooms. Most impressive was probably the library. That was a separate building lined wall to wall, floor to ceiling - three books deep. We also saw where he, Abigail, John Quincy and his wife Louisa were buried. This is in the basement of United First Parish Church in Quincy. I was actually able to touch the marble enclosing their coffins.
John Adams was a fairly quotable guy. To commemorate his day, here are some of my favorites:
First, three we should heed today:
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."
"Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence".
"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak."
Another one to think about:
"Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power."
And here's one I wish our Supreme Court had believed:
"Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty."
Being an educator, I find his views on education stimulating:
"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people."
"There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."
Finally, some good advice for all of us:
"Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order."
Happy Birthday to you, John Adams; hopefully somehow in cosmology you're getting these vibes!