Hundreds of years later these Samuel Adams quotes still ring true. Share the one you think applies the most today in the comments below.
One of the leading voices behind the American Revolution, many of these Samuel Adams quotes about freedom, liberty, and virtue come from his speeches and letters that were written while he was fighting for freedom.
As a young adult, Samuel Adams began his career as a brewer but failed miserably. After that, he tried his hand at tax collecting but failed again. Adams’s true passion was in politics, and it was there where he would finally find success.
A Founding Father of the United States, a member of the Continental Congress, a political theorist, and the second governor of Massachusetts, Adams was a major influence in gaining American freedom.
Samuel Adams quotes on liberty
1. “No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved.” — Samuel Adams
2. “When people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders.” — Samuel Adams
3. “How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!” — Samuel Adams
4. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” — Samuel Adams
5. “The absolute rights of Englishmen and all freemen, in or out of civil society, are principally personal security, personal liberty, and private property.” — Samuel Adams
6. “Courage, then, my countrymen, our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.” — Samuel Adams
7. “And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of someone or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions.” — Samuel Adams
8. “Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.” — Samuel Adams
9. “Before the formation of this Constitution, it had been affirmed as a self-evident truth, in the declaration of Independence, very deliberately made by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled that, “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” This declaration of Independence was received and ratified by all the States in the Union and has never been disannulled. May we not from hence conclude, that the doctrine of Liberty and Equality is an article in the political creed of the United States.” — Samuel Adams
10. “The Opinion of others I very little regard, & have a thorough Contempt for all men, be their Names Characters & Stations what they may, who appear to be the irreclaimable Enemies of Religion & Liberty.” — Samuel Adams
11. “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.” — Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams quotes on government
12. “If ever the Time should come, when vain & aspiring Men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced Patriots to prevent its Ruin.” — Samuel Adam
13. “The first fundamental, positive law of all commonwealths or states is the establishing the legislative power. As the first fundamental natural law, also, which is to govern even the legislative power itself, is the preservation of the society.” — Samuel Adams
14. “The Legislative has no right to absolute, arbitrary power over the lives and fortunes of the people; nor can mortals assume a prerogative not only too high for men, but for angels, and therefore reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone.” — Samuel Adams
15. “The supreme power cannot justly take from any man any part of his property, without his consent in person or by his representative.” — Samuel Adams
16. “All positive and civil laws should conform, as far as possible, to the law of natural reason and equity.” — Samuel Adams
17. “It has been observed, that “education has a greater influence on manners than human laws can have.” — Samuel Adams
18. “I am fully persuaded that the population of the US living different Climates, of different Education and Manners, and possessed of different Habits & Feelings under one consolidated Government can not long remain free, or indeed remain under any kind of Government but despotism.” — Samuel Adams
19. “If you, or Colonel Dalrymple under you, have the power to remove one regiment you have the power to remove both. It is at your peril if you refuse. The meeting is composed of three thousand people. They have become impatient. A thousand men are already arrived from the neighborhood, and the whole country is in motion. Night is approaching. An immediate answer is expected. Both regiments or none!” — Samuel Adams
20. “I could dwell on the importance of piety and religion; of industry and frugality; of prudence, economy, regularity and an even government; all which are essential to the well-being of a family. But I have not Time. I cannot however help repeating Piety, because I think it indispensable. Religion in a Family is at once its brightest Ornament & its best Security. The first Point of Justice, says a Writer I have met with, consists in Piety; Nothing certainly being so great a Debt upon us, as to render to the Creator & Preserver those Acknowledgments which are due to Him for our Being, and the hourly Protection he affords us.” — Samuel Adams
21. “The people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it. And the federal Constitution – according to the mode prescribed therein [Article V] – has already undergone such amendments in several parts of it as from experience has been judged necessary.” — Samuel Adams
22. “Since private and public Vices, are in Reality, though not always apparent, so nearly connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost Pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of children, and the moral Sense kept alive, and that the wise institutions of our Ancestors for these great Purposes be encouraged by the Government. For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” — Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams quotes on freedom
23. “Our unalterable resolution would be to be free. They have attempted to subdue us by force, but God be praised! in vain. Their arts may be more dangerous then their arms. Let us then renounce all treaty with them upon any score but that of total separation, and under God trust our cause to our swords.” — Samuel Adams
24. “The Colonists have been branded with the odious names of traitors and rebels only for complaining of their grievances.” — Samuel Adams
25. “The country shall be independent, and we will be satisfied with nothing short of it.” — Samuel Adams
26. “The sum of all is if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve to enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, through the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall, in reality, be the most abject slaves.” — Samuel Adams
27. “For true patriots to be silent, is dangerous.” — Samuel Adams
28. “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come!” — Samuel Adams
29. “I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may long enjoy her independence and freedom if she will. It depends on her virtue.” — Samuel Adams
30. “It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defense of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.” — Samuel Adams
31. “The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave… These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” — Samuel Adams
32. “Freedom of thought and the right of private judgment, in matters of conscience, driven from every other corner of the earth, direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum.” — Samuel Adams
33. “There is One above us who will take exemplary vengeance for every insult upon His majesty. You know that the cause of America is just. You know that she contends for that freedom to which all men are entitled – that she contends against oppression, rapine, and more than savage barbarity. The blood of the innocent is upon your hands, and all the waters of the ocean will not wash it away. We again make our solemn appeal to the God of heaven to decide between you and us. And we pray that, in the doubtful scale of battle, we may be successful as we have justice on our side, and that the merciful Savior of the world may forgive our oppressors.” — Samuel Adams
34. “The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought.” — Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams quotes on society
35. “The natural liberty of man, by entering into society, is abridged or restrained, so far only as is necessary for the great end of society, the best good of the whole.” — Samuel Adams
36. “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” — Samuel Adams
37. “Every citizen will see, and I hope be deeply impressed with a sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his children is connected with it, that those who are to have a share in making as well as in judging and executing the laws should be men of singular wisdom and integrity.” — Samuel Adams
38. “But we want no excuse for any supposed mistakes of our ancestors. Let us first see it proved that they were mistakes. Till then we must hold ourselves obliged to them for sentiments transmitted to us so worthy of their character, and to important to our security.” — Samuel Adams
39. “The people of New-England, if you will allow me to use a Scripture phrase, are fast returning to their first love. Will you excite among them the spirit of angry controversy, at a time, when they are hastening to unity and peace?… Do you think, that your pen or the pen of any other man can unchristianize the mass of our citizens, or have you hopes of converting a few of them to assist you in so bad a cause?” — Samuel Adams
More wise Samuel Adams quotes
40. “We cannot make Events. Our Business is wisely to improve them.” — Samuel Adams
41. “Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.” — Samuel Adams
42. “Let Divines, and Philosophers, Statesmen, and Patriots unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the Minds of Men with the importance of educating their little boys, and girls.” — Samuel Adams
43. “Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?” — Samuel Adams
44. “In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator. They are imprinted by the finger of God on the heart of man. Thou shall do no injury to thy neighbor, is the voice of nature and reason, and it is confirmed by written revelation.” — Samuel Adams
45. “He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all. Our forefathers threw off the yoke of Popery in religion; for you is reserved the honor of leveling the popery of politics. They opened the Bible to all, and maintained the capacity of every man to judge for himself in religion.” — Samuel Adams
46. “And as it is our duty to extend our wishes to the happiness of the great family of man, I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world that the rod of tyrants may be broken into pieces, and the oppressed made free: that wars may cease in all the earth, and that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing on that holy and happy period when the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and all the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace.” — Samuel Adams
47. “When the married Couple strictly observe the great Rules of Honor & Justice towards each other, Differences, if any happen, between them, must proceed from small & trifling Circumstances.” — Samuel Adams
48. “What a glorious morning is this.” — Samuel Adams
49. “If we continue to be a happy people, that happiness must be assured by the enacting and executing of reasonable and wise laws, expressed in the plainest language, and by establishing such modes of education as tend to inculcate in the minds of youth, the feelings, and habits of “piety, religion, and morality,” and to lead them to the knowledge and love of those truly Republican principles upon which our civil institutions are founded.” — Samuel Adams
50. “The Opinion of others I very little regard, & have a thorough Contempt for all men, be their Names Characters & Stations what they may, who appear to be the irreclaimable Enemies of Religion & Liberty.” — Samuel Adams
What did you learn from these Samuel Adams quotes?
As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, it is easy to consider that history would not have played out the same without Samuel Adams.
Adams was an integral revolutionary in the fight for freedom. From helping to organize the Boston Tea Party to rallying citizens to believe in liberty to being one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, Adams’ role in the revolution and in building a country afterward solidified his position as a very important part of American history.
We hope these Samuel Adams quotes and sayings helped you to appreciate freedom in a new light. Tell us what you learned from these quotes and let us know which one was your favorite in the comments below.
May 4, 2021 7:00 AM EST