Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE BY THE EDITOR. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 4 (Novanglus, Thoughts on Government, Defence of the Constitution)
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PREFACE BY THE EDITOR. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 4 (Novanglus, Thoughts on Government, Defence of the Constitution) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 4.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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In times of social revolution, two descriptions of human power are forced into extraordinary activity. One of these is particularly directed to the work of demolition of the old, the other to that of reconstruction of the new, forms of government. Most frequently these are not found existing in one and the same set of persons; and the first class of agents, after having accomplished its work, yields its place to the second, which, in turn, performs that for which it is peculiarly fitted. “L’esprit d’organisation,” says a modern French writer,1 “le goût d’une régulière discipline, le don du commandement raisonnable, ne sont pas des qualités propres à ceux qui ont jeté le trouble dans la société. D’ailleurs, aux rares génies qui reçoivent cette mission, on ne donne pas le pouvoir, ils le prennent.”
The share which Mr. Adams had in breaking up the system of colonial dependence has been already shown in the preceding division of this work. It is intended in this to present, in one clear and connected view, the system upon which he acted in reorganizing society upon the basis under which the country has thus far prospered. It will be perceived that, from first to last, from the year 1775, before the Declaration of Independence, down to the year 1793, when the present constitution had become fully established, the principles upon which he acted and counselled remain substantially the same. What these really were; how far they were adopted and incorporated into the institutions of the separate and of the United States; and how far they may be entitled to be hereafter received as sound, the present corrected form of publication will probably furnish the materials of deciding. Upon them, the reputation of the author with posterity must ultimately rest, far more than upon his active career. The system, though developed to serve an immediate purpose, is based upon a close examination of human nature, in every phase of its republican experience. Its suggestions and its warnings remain alike on record, their soundness to be tested by the future course of government, now tending more and more, in all civilized countries, to the adoption of popular forms.
The writings of Mr. Adams upon Government may be classed according to the three periods in which they were written.
The first embraces the exposition of his theory, prior to the attempt in any state to form an independent system, and is called the plan.
The second contains the proposal of a distinct form, when he was himself called upon to take a share in the organization of a government, and is called the model.
The third includes the defence of the plan and model against all the objections that were raised against them, at a time when circumstances threatened to bring them into disrepute, and is, therefore, denominated the defence.
[1 ]Questions Constitutionelles, par M. de Barante.