July 3, 2011
BOOK OF THE WEEK: WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN, 2011
Gordon Wood, ed., John Adams: Revolutionary Writings 1755-1775 (New York: Library of America, 2011) (From "Notes for an Oration on Government": "Liberty, under every conceivable Form of Government is always in Danger. It is so even under a simple, or perfect Democracy, more so under a mixed Government, like the Republic of Rome, and still more so under a limited Monarchy. Ambition is one of the more ungovernable Passions of the human Heart. The Love of Power, is insatiable and uncontroulable. Even in the simple Democracies of ancient Greece, Jealous as they were of Power, even their Ostracism could not always preserve them from the grasping Desires and Designs, from the overbearing Popularity, of their great Men. Even Rome, in her wisest and more virtuous Period, form the Expulsion of her Kings to the Overthrow of the Commonwealth, was always in Danger from the Power of some and the Turbulence, Faction and Popularity of others. There is Danger form all Men. The only Maxim of a free Government, ought to be to trust no Man living, with Power to endanger the public Liberty." Id. at 215 (formatting omitted). From "From the Autobiography": "Looking about me in the Country, I found the practice of Law was grasped into the hands of Deputy Sheriffs, Pettyfoggers and even Constables, who filled all the Writts upon Bonds, promissory notes and Accounts, received the Fees established for Lawyers and stirred up many unnecessary Suits. I mentioned these Things to some of the Gentlemen in Boston, who disapproved and even resented them very highly, I asked them whether some measures might not be agreed upon at the Bar and sanctioned by the Court, which might remedy the Evil? They thought it not only practicable but highly expedient and proposed Meetings of the Bar to deliberate upon it. A meeting was called and a great Number of regulations proposed not only for confining the practice of Law to those who were educated to it and sworn to fidelity in it, but to introduce more regularity, Urbanity, Candour and Politeness as well as honor, Equity and Humanity, among the regular Professors. . . ." Id. at 625.).