I know I read a while ago one of John Adams' writings about how people were generally discontented with Washington during the latter years of his administration, but expressed anger towards Hamilton instead, as he wasn't the revered, almost deified figure Washington was. I've tried searching for the document online with various search terms, like "Hamilton Washington discontent Adams", and pretty much everything I can think of, but I can't find this source. It was definitely written by John Adams, though. Any thoughts? What was this document?

I'm not sure if this sort of thing is allowed here, so let me know if I should edit in any way.

  • 5
    I think this is a good source request. We discourage most source requests because they tend to be subjective and ephemeral and because it is difficult to identify the authoritative answer. This question on the other hand should have a clear, authoritative answer. Thanks!
    – MCW
    Mar 20, 2020 at 13:48

1 Answer 1


If you are interested in some of the actual political blaming being discussed by that quote, you'll probably want to take a look at the writings of the US' first political hatchet-man, James Callender.

However, he didn't actually seem to have much compunction against saying nasty things about Washington. He wrote this when Washington left office:

If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington. If ever a nation has suffered from the improper influence of a man, the American nation has been deceived by Washington. Let his conduct then be an example to future ages. Let it serve to be a warning that no man may be an idol, and that a people may confide in themselves rather than in an individual.

He was also the man who published news of Alexander Hamilton's affair and payments to the woman's husband, which these days is famous as a major plot point in the musical Hamilton.

  • That quote reads like it was written yesterday,
    – Jurp
    Mar 20, 2020 at 21:00
  • @Jurp - A lot of historical US campaign history sounds remarkably modern. We're still the same species we were in the 1700s. If you're interested in this, I'd highly suggest picking up a copy of Boller's Presidential Campaigns
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 21, 2020 at 0:05
  • Thanks for the reference - I'll look into it. One way in which we differ from our 1790s forebears is in reading level. Callender's quote is written to a 9th-10th grade education (using today's reading metrics), which is actually rather low for the times; the average American today reads at a 4th grade level at best. Here's the quote at a 5th grade reading level, which is still too high: "Washington has corrupted America. He’s lied and been a bad influence. The way he’s acted should warn us that we shouldn’t let any man become an idol. We should rely on ourselves instead." sigh
    – Jurp
    Mar 21, 2020 at 2:20
  • @Jurp - Completely OT, but yeah. I blame telephones, as before they became universal everyone had to write (and read) just to keep in touch with family. As late as the 1950's you can still hear political speeches with a shockingly high vocabulary level. A corollary to this theory is that its about to change again, since people only use voice phone calls grudgingly these days. Whether it goes up due to people going back to writing, or down again due to texting remains to be seen. I choose to hope for the former.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 23, 2020 at 15:02

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