The more Adams thought about the future of his country, the more convinced he became that it rested on education. Before any great things are accomplished, he wrote to a correspondent, a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.
Government is nothing more than the combined force of society or the united power of the multitude for the peace, order, safety, good, and happiness of the people... There is no king or queen bee distinguished from all the others by size or figure or beauty and variety of colors in the human hive. No man has yet produced any revelation from heaven in his favor, any divine communication to govern his fellow men. Nature throws us all into the world equal and alike... The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people. As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation it is impossible they should be enslaved. Ambition is one of the more ungovernable passions of the human heart. The love of power is insatiable and uncontrollable... There is a danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living wth power to endanger public liberty.
One of the regrets of my life is that I did not study Latin. I'm absolutely convinced, the more I understand these eighteenth century people, that it was that grounding in Greek and Latin that gave them their sense of the classic virtues: the classic ideals of honor, virtue, the good society, and their historic examples of what they could try to live up to.