Don't Know Much

Who Said It? (10/30/2020)

Facts are stubborn things

“Facts are stubborn things…whatever may be our wishes and inclinations or the dictums of our passions…”

Future president John Adams in December 1770

John Adams portrait by Gilbert Stuart

Adams said that as he was defending the “bad guys” –the British soldiers who shot at some Boston townies in what became heralded as the Boston Massacre.

—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: nor is the law less stable than the fact; if an assault was made to endanger their lives, the law is clear, they had a right to kill in their own defence; if it was not so severe as to endanger their lives, yet if they were assaulted at all, struck and abused by blows of any sort, by snow-balls, oyster-shells, cinders, clubs, or sticks of any kind; this was a provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing, down to manslaughter, in consideration of those passions in our nature, which cannot be eradicated. To your candour and justice I submit the prisoners and their cause.

-Adams Argument for the Defense: December 3-4, 1770 National Archives

 

John Adams as born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Mass.

 

Posted on October 30, 2020

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