Response to Commentators


John Adams fancied himself an egalitarian. In his Defence of the Constitutions of Government—a book that would lead many to question his commitment to political equality—Adams forcefully rejected the idea of natural inequality found in much of premodern republican thought. Against Aristotle’s insistence that farmers and artisans be excluded from citizenship, Adams insisted that “[t]he moral equality that nature has unalterably established among men, gives these an undoubted right to have every road opened to them for advancement in life and in power that is open to any others.”

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