Don't Know Much

Who Said It? (6/5/17)


"A government of laws, and not of men."

John Adams, writing as “Novanglus,” Boston Gazette [1774] no. 7. Incorporated in Article 30 of the Declaration of Rights in the Massachusetts Constitution [1780].


“A government of laws, and not of men.”

Source: The John Adams Historical Society website

John Adams, Second POTUS , official portrit (Source: White House Historical Association)

According to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations:

“Adams credits this formulation to James Harrington [1611-1677], with those work The Commonwealth of Oceana [1656] he was familiar, Adams’s use of the phrase gave it wide circulation in America.” (p. 337)

A few years earlier, Adams had written notes for a speech he gave in the spring of 1772. He wrote:

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” [Bartlett’s p. 337; John Adams Historical Society]

Posted on June 5, 2017

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