You are here

Dreams of the future... (Quotation)

"Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both. We are destined to be a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism. Old Europe will have to lean on our shoulders, and to hobble along by our side, under the monkish trammels of priests and kings, as she can. What a Colossus shall we be when the Southern continent comes up to our mark! What a stand will it secure as a ralliance for the reason & freedom of the globe! I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. So good night. I will dream on, always fancying that Mrs Adams and yourself are by my side marking the progress and the obliquities of ages and countries." - Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, Monticello, 1 August 1816[1]

Adams replied, "May we be 'a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism'! 'What a colossus shall we be'! But will it not be of brass, iron and clay? Your taste is judicious in liking better the dreams of the future than the history of the past. Upon this principle I prophesy that you and I shall soon meet and be better friends than ever."[2]


  1. Cappon, Adams-Jefferson Letters, 483-85. Also printed in L&B, 15:56-59. Text available online.
  2. Adams to Jefferson, Quincy, 9 August 1816, in Cappon, Adams-Jefferson Letters, 487. Also printed in L&B, 15:65. Text available online.
Available in Our Online Shop


Login or register to participate in our online community.