Slide 3 -
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on Aristocracy (1813)
Some Main Points
Adams: Aristocracy has its pitfalls, but entrusting power to the people may be worse.
“When I consider the weakness, the folly, the pride, the vanity, the selfishness, the artifice, the low craft and mean cunning, the want of principle, the avarice, the unbounded ambition, the unfair cruelty of the majority of those (in all nations) who are allowed an aristocratical influence, and, on the other hand the stupidity with which the more numerous multitude not only become their dupes, but even love to be taken by their tricks, I feel a stronger disposition to weep at their destiny, than to laugh at their folly.”
Adams: Although a natural aristocracy is difficult to determine, we have done a pretty good job, and the virtuous, public-spirited leaders of the United States will preserve the federative republic.
“Your distinction between natural and artificial aristocracy, does not appear to me founded.”
“Our pure, virtuous, public-spirited, federative republic will last forever, govern the globe, and introduce the perfection of man…”