Excerpt from The Works of John Adams, Vol. 6: Second President of the United States; With a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations An excellent writer has said, somewhat incautiously, that a people will never oppress themselves, or invade their own rights. This compliment, if applied to human nature, or to mankind, or to any nation or people in being or in memory, is more than has been merited. If it Should be admitted that a people will not unanimously agree to oppress themselves, it is as much as is ever, and more than is' always, true. All kinds of experience Show, that great numbers of individuals do Oppress great numbers of other individuals that parties often, if not always, oppress other parties; and majorities almost universally minorities. All that this Observation can mean then, consistently with any color of fact, is, that the people will never unanimously agree to oppress themselves. But if one party agrees to oppress another, or the majority the minority, the people still oppress themselves, for one part of them oppress another.
The people never think of usurping over other men's rights.
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