Adams’ message to posterity on the cost of freedom

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams

Adams expressed this sentiment in a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated 26th April 1777. He concluded his statement by adding:

“If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”


Adams, J., n.d. Founders Online: John Adams To Abigail Adams, 26 April 1777. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 August 2020].

Mini Bio: John Adams

John Adams was born 30th October 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was a Founding Father and the second president of the United States of America.

Adams was unique among the Founding Fathers and early presidents: his closest advisor was his wife, Abigail, and together they opposed slavery as an absolute evil.

Adams and Jefferson, friends and revolutionaries, were part of a five-man committee appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. On Adams’ suggestion, Jefferson was chosen to write the final document. Yet, Jefferson could not debate as well as he wrote, and it was left to the tenacious and persuasive Adams to convince the Congress to ratify the document.

Adams served two terms as George Washington’s vice president and was elected the nation’s second president on Washington’s retirement. Adams ran for a second term but lost to Jefferson. Bitter about the campaign tactics of Jefferson’s supporters, Adams left Washington and did not attend Jefferson’s inauguration.

Years later, Adams and Jefferson resumed their friendship, became close correspondents, and lived to extreme old age.

In an astonishing coincidence, Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, 4th July 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the adoption of The Declaration of Independence.

According to tradition, Adams’ last words were, “Jefferson still survives.” In fact, Jefferson had died five hours earlier.

John Adams Crucial Role as a Founding Father

21 thoughts on “Adams’ message to posterity on the cost of freedom”

  1. Wow, what a wonderful post you have written here and. honestly, I am just so motivated by what you have written. 

    So happy to learn this and I think it would be really nice if I share this with different friends around too to enjoy such motivation. 

    It’s my first time here and I’m sure I’ll be more constant here.

    • Hi Payton,

      Thanks for your kind words. Being sandwiched between the presidencies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, John Adams is sometimes overlooked. Yet he was an important president and a man of great character.

      Cheers, Marika

  2. Hello there! this is an amazing review you have got here. I am sure the quality information in this post will be of great help to anyone who comes across it. Sometimes while I listen or read things about great men like John Adams, I just wish we had people like them in today’s govt.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing with us an interesting and research article. The main subject of this article is Adams’ message to posterity on the cost of freedom. It is truly commendable that you have demonstrated this topic so well in your article. I have learned a lot by reading your article and gained a lot of cognition about John Adams. Of the points mentioned in your article, I like Adams and Jefferson, friends, and revolutionaries.

    Finally, I enjoyed reading your article and I’d like to share your article in my Facebook group if you give me permission.

    • Thanks for taking an interest in this post. Adams was all about courage, honesty, and integrity. He’s definitely one of the greats. 

      I’d be grateful if you shared this post with your Facebook group.


  4. I really enjoyed reading John Adam’s message to posterity on the cost of freedom. I personally didn’t know about the close friendship between Adams and Jefferson and the fact that they eventually died on the same date îs astonishing indeed. It is always a privilege and an opportunity for me to read this kind of articles that prove to be very helpful to all the researchers looking for quality content. 

  5. Oh, what an article you have here on leadership, friendship and bond. I honestly didn’t know so much about Jefferson and Adam but looking at how they bother came to their death and the very ironic last words of Adams, it is really nice to know that they grew to make the America we have today. Such a beauty

    • Hi Jay,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m still fascinated by how both former presidents passed away on the same day –  the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Some early citizens saw it as a sign of the new nation’s divinity.

      In another twist, five years after the deaths of Adams and Jefferson, James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, also passed away on Independence Day.

      Cheers, Marika

  6. Very interesting and educational site.  I love good quotes and the story associated with each one.  I believe Adams was referring to what he went through in an attempt to abolish slavery and establish freedom for all, and that is why he concluded his quote with the following statement, “If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

    I don’t know what Adams went through in his endeavors for freedom, but I feel his pain pouring out of his words.

    Please keep up the good work and we will talk again.

  7. A brief but ‘nice to read’ writing on the history of America –
    I enjoy reading it. It is interesting that Adams and Jefferson were friends,
    but fought for the post of president of America. More interesting is that, they
    resumed their friendship and became close correspondents later. I am feeling
    eager to know the comparative study of their role as the president of America.

    • Hi Sekhar,

      You raise a good question. Most American’s remember Jefferson as the greater man: He wrote the Declaration of Independence and, as president, he initiated the Louisiana Purchase and was responsible for the westward expansion of the USA. Yet, he was also better at self-promotion than Adams who once said: 

      “The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a theatrical show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that… and all the glory of it.”

      Even so, modern students would probably regard Adams as the man of greater character: he spoke frankly and made political enemies because of his honesty, whereas Jefferson was risk-averse. Both men opposed slavery, but only Adams walked the talk; Jefferson was a slave owner. And Adams supported women’s rights – his wife was his closest advisor, a feminist, and a woman of independent thought.

      There is a saying: “When we know better, we do better.” Adams seemed to know better long before most.

      Cheers, Marika

  8. Marika, wow, this is an excellent post you have written about Adams. I love the quote “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it.” ~ John Adams

    This is history come alive. I will say that he was a living legend. Adams did great things for America. Him and His beloved, intelligent, and dedicated Abigal, offered much to the political stability and thought for the world.

     His absolute rejection of slavery-like Abraham Lincoln did will never be under- stressed by historians of any generation. He became Vice president for George Washington for 2 good terms, served as the second president, ad lost his second term to Jefferson, through their dishonest campaigns. For which he complained bitterly after, and that smeared their political relationship until later on. Their reconciliation and friendship were a very political lesson to learn and a good drama, and that both died the same day on 4th of July, which was remarkable.

     Today, with what is happening to the country and the world of politics, your article is so timely to refresh our memories. Politics, as I know it has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. Today, we can ask the question, what’s happened to the American politics of Adams, Washington, Jeffersons, and Abraham Lincolns, where are the moral values, and exemplary leadership qualities? It seems that the moral sense of leadership is eroding away. God help us!

    Thanks for sharing this at this Political season!


    • Hi Favorme,

      Thanks for your interest and well-considered comments. Adams’ message to posterity is worthy of solemn reflection indeed.

      Cheers, Marika

  9. Thanks for refreshing our minds concerning John Adams quote and it’s validity today. It was nice also reading this short bio. I didn’t know Adams and Jefferson had in fact passed away the same day.

    There was this wisdom that characterized the founding fathers that seems to be lacking in our present day. Those were golden years for our nation.

    • Hi Ann,

      I too find it amazing that Jefferson and Adams both passed away on the 50th Anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence. Facts can be stranger than fiction.

      Cheers, Marika

  10. Hello Marika, and thanks a lot for sharing such amazing content with us all. I was actually doing some research online when I saw your post, it really is motivational to a certain point and I really want to commend your effort in bringing us such site. Thanks a lot for the info, it really has been helpful.


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