Virtue, Vice, and Ambition – John Adams


John Adams, 1777

Not well understood by students of American history and government today is the positive virtue known as “ambition”, as in contrast with that negative vice we here so much about. That we are too often ignorant on this subject is not because the Founders failed to explain themselves, but because modern men of ill intent have sought to undermine the faith of the American citizenry in the virtuous motives, principles, and events surrounding the American Revolution, and the Establishment of the U.S. Constitution.

John Adams in an April 27, 1777 letter, helps set the record straight:

Ambition in a Republic, is a great Virtue, for it is nothing more than a Desire, to Serve the Public, to promote the Happiness of the People, to increase the Wealth, the Grandeur, and Prosperity of the Community. This, Ambition is but another Name for public Virtue, and public Spirit. But the Ambition which has Power for its object, which desires to increase the Wealth, the Grandeur, and the Glory of an Individual, at the Expense of the Community, is a very heinous Vice.

Source: John Adams. Excerpt from letter written in Philadelphia on April 27, 1777 Letter to unknown recipient. Spelling modernized in this selection.

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They Were Believers is researched, compiled, and edited by Self-Educated American Founder and Editor In Chief, Steve Farrell. Steve served as one of the original and most popular pundits at (1999-2007), and is the author of the highly praised inspirational novel, Dark Rose.

Copyright © 2013 Steve Farrell.

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