Hello!  If you are a regular subscriber to this blog, you know that I have been on sabbatical this year and that my posts have been few and far between.  I am looking forward to interacting with you regularly come autumn, but for now I am trying to make as much progress as I can on a book on the rise of American democracy, tentatively titled “We the Fallen People.”

John Adams

I did come across a passage in my reading today that seemed timely, however, and I couldn’t help sharing it.  I spent a glorious morning at nearby forest preserve, and as I sat in the sun on one of my favorite benches, I encountered this from our nation’s second president, John Adams.  The date was January 8, 1776, and Adams, at the time a member of the Second Continental Congress, was writing to Mrs. Mercy Otis Warren, the sister and wife of distinguished patriot leaders and an accomplished political writer in her own right.  In context, Adams was sharing his preference for a republic over a monarchy, as well as his doubts whether Americans possessed sufficient virtue for a republic to survive.  Listen to his conclusion:

It is the Part of a great Politician to make the Character of his People; to extinguish among them, the Follies and Vices that he sees, and to create in them the Virtues and Abilities which he sees wanting. I wish I was sure that America has one such Politician, but I fear she has not.

As timely in 2016 as in 1776.



  1. Dr. Mckenzie, I hope your writing leave has been fruitful. I have missed hearing from you, especially in this period of our nations history. I have an audacious request. I am eager to hear your thoughts on the removal of historic monuments. Your thoughts as a historian and as a Christian matter greatly to me.

  2. What very little I know of Mercy Otis Warren makes me want to learn more. Could you possibly direct me to her writings? And is your new book about d’Touqueville or does he just figure prominently?

  3. Jack Be Nimble

    If John Adams couldn’t find one, how can we be expected to? Perhaps we can at least ask that our leaders not make things worse! I like your tentative title. It goes against the soaring and unwarranted optimism that God has placed this nation on an ever upward track of progress. We are today, perhaps, engaged in the desperate struggle to salvage some semblance of democracy as our founding fathers envisioned it to be. Unfortunately, we no longer think of ourselves as a fallen people; the prosperity gospel, Christian nationalism, and the “God Within” have subverted our humility.

  4. Grandma Chris

    I look forward to reading your new book. I think “It is the Part of a Great Teacher” would work in John Adams’ quote also. God bless America – forever. Amen.

  5. Julie Randolph

    Home run!

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