Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
APPENDIX. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
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. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
In the month of August, 1821, the Cadets of the United States Military Academy, under the command of Major Worth, paid a visit to Boston. One day was devoted by them to an excursion to the seat of Mr. Adams at Quincy. They were received by him, drawn up before the portico in front of his house, and in a voice then much broken with age, he made them the following address:—
My young Fellow-Citizens and Fellow-Soldiers,—
I rejoice that I live to see so fine a collection of the future defenders of their country in pursuit of honor under the auspices of the national government.
A desire of distinction is implanted by nature in every human bosom, and the general sense of mankind, in all ages and countries, cultivated and uncultivated, has excited, encouraged, and applauded this passion in military men more than in any other order of society. Military glory is esteemed the first and greatest of glories. As your profession is at least as solemn and sacred as any in human life, it behooves you seriously to consider, what is glory?
There is no real glory in this world or any other but such as arises from wisdom and benevolence. There can be no solid glory among men but that which springs from equity and humanity; from the constant observance of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. Battles, victories, and conquests, abstracted from their only justifiable object and end, which is justice and peace, are the glory of fraud, violence, and usurpation. What was the glory of Alexander and Cæsar? “The glimmering” which those “livid flames” in Milton “cast, pale and dreadful,” or “the sudden blaze,” which “far round illumin’d Hell.”
Different—far different is the glory of Washington and his faithful colleagues! Excited by no ambition of conquest or avaricious desire of wealth; irritated by no jealousy, envy, malice, or revenge; prompted only by the love of their country, by the purest patriotism and philanthropy, they persevered, with invincible constancy, in defence of their country, her fundamental laws, her natural, essential and inalienable rights and liberties, against the lawless and ruthless violence of tyranny and usurpation. The biography of these immortal captains, and the history of their great actions, you will read and ruminate night and day. You need not investigate antiquity, or travel into foreign countries, to find models of excellence in military commanders, without a stain of ambition or avarice, tyranny, cruelty, or oppression towards friends or enemies.
In imitation of such great examples, in the most exalted transports of your military ardor, even in the day of battle, you will be constantly overawed by a conscious sense of the dignity of your characters as men, as American citizens, and as Christians.
I congratulate you on the great advantages you possess for attaining eminence in letters and science, as well as in arms. These advantages are a precious deposit, which you ought to consider as a sacred trust, for which you are responsible to your country and to a higher tribunal. These advantages, and the habits you have acquired, will qualify you for any course of life you may choose to pursue.
That I may not fatigue you with too many words, allow me to address every one of you in the language of a Roman dictator to his master of the horse, after a daring and dangerous exploit for the safety of his country,
“Macte virtute esto.”
DIRECTIONS TO THE BINDER.