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John Adams on Religion in the United States, Quakers, Jesuitism, and Machiavellianism

The words of John Adams, second President of the United States (1797–1801) and the first Vice President (1789–97) on Religion in the United States, Quakers, Jesuitism, and Machiavellianism.

“The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated” (Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 23 January 1825; see Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, 1988, pg. 607).

What is that substance and essence and what are those extraneous ingredients? He speaks our way of speaking on these subjects.

John Adams to John Quincy Adams,
10 May 1816.

“The Words Machiavelism and Jesuitism, have for 200 years passed, been customarily employed, by the general Consent of all honest Men; to Signify a perfect Complication of Hypocricy and Knavery; of Falshood, Fraud, Perfidy, Perjury, Tyrany and Cruelty: and all this maturely and deliberately digested and established both in Theory and Practice. Pascal, the only modern Demosthenes, in his Provincial Letters, has stated concisely their system i.e. of the Jesuits, the Macchiavelists We will waive for the present, from authentic Writers. Let me intreat you to read these Letters again. Let me also intreat you to read an History of the Jesuits in four French Volumes printed in Amsterdam in 1761. (…) Did you ever read the Histories of the Kings of the Gypsies, especially that of Bamfield Moor Carew.? Have you read the Writings of Nimrod Hews and Christopher Macpherson? Have you read the History the discipline and the Doctrines and the Miracles of the Shaking Quakers? Mesmer, Cagliostro, Graham, The Convulsionaires, The Miracles at the Tomb of the blessed and Sainted Abby Paris are, no doubt familiar to you. If you were here I could furnish you with much edifying Information on these great Subjects. Are you acquainted with the Biography the Philosophy, the Religion the Prophecies the Revelations of the Prophet of Wabash or the Kirkland Prophet of Oneida?

There is in human Nature, a solid, unchangeable and eternal foundation of Religion. There is also a Germ of Superstition, Seemingly a fungous growth, or a Spurious Sprout, which the grossest Blockheads and most attrocies Villains are able to cultivate, into Systems and Sects to deceive millions and cheat and pillage hundreds and thousands of their fellow Creatures.

All Religions have Something good in them: but the Ambition and Avarice of Priests and Politicions have introduced into all of them, monstrous Corruptions and Abuses, and into none more cruel bloody and horrible than into the Christian. My Advice to you, is to be extreamly cautious and reserved on the Subject of Religion.”

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