There's a quote where John Adams says something about his "touching springs and turning wheels," a metaphor for his actions influencing events leading up to the Revolutionary War. I'm wondering if someone could give me the exact quote.


1 Answer 1


In "The Works of John Adams, vol. 1 (Life of the Author)", I found the following paragraph:

“Is it not a saying of Moses, ‘Who am I, that I should go in and out before this great people?’ When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental in touching some springs, and turning some small wheels, which have had and will have such effects, I feel an awe upon my mind, which is not easily described. Great Britain has at last driven America to the last step, a complete separation from her; a total, absolute independence, not only of her parliament, but of her crown. For such is the amount of the resolve of the 15th. Confederation among ourselves or alliances with foreign nations are not necessary to a perfect separation from Britain. That is effected by extinguishing all authority under the crown, parliament, and nation, as the resolution for instituting governments has done to all intents and purposes. Confederation will be necessary for our internal concord, and alliances may be so for our external defence.”

FWIW: The "Online Library of Liberty" has a search feature. To quickly look through the book and find the mentioned paragraph, use the word "wheel".

  • 2
    That's exactly the quote I was looking for! Thank you very much!
    – JoeB
    Commented Jan 5 at 21:44

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