claims John Adams said

a division of the republic into two great parties … is to be dreaded as the great political evil.

What's the source of this quote?

  • 2
    John Adams is not the only one of the founding fathers to have spoken and written against the formation of political parties. For example, George Washington's farewell address predicts and warns against many of the poor outcomes that we in fact see today, more and more so as U.S. political party leaders of both major parties draw further apart and become more and more entrenched. Commented Feb 23 at 14:35
  • @JohnBollinger: It is rather frustrating how prescient many of the founding fathers were about factionalism, considering they set up the underlying system in the first place. But I guess that's what happens when you do design-by-committee...
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 24 at 21:17
  • 1
    Factionalism was already present during the ratification of the Constitution in the Federalists and Anti-Federalists
    – qwr
    Commented Feb 25 at 5:56
  • If he is not desiring MORE than two parties, is he rater wishing for only one. That sounds contrary to most understandings of hos our systems are "meant" to work. (What would I know? I'm in NZ :-) ). Commented Feb 25 at 10:40

1 Answer 1


There is nothing I dread So much, as a Division of the Republick into two great Parties, each arranged under its Leader, and concerting Measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble Apprehension is to be dreaded as the greatest political Evil, under our Constitution.

This is from a letter John Adams wrote to Jonathan Jackson on October 2, 1780. Source: National Archives

  • 3
    Re: "October 2, 1780": OMG, that means that when he writes of "the Republick", he means Massachusetts (which adopted its constitution in 1779–80) rather than the U.S. (which didn't adopt its Constitution until 1787–9). Who knew?!
    – ruakh
    Commented Feb 23 at 4:30
  • 2
    Well, this isn't that much of a difference, as people were involved in building a nation, states, and they were having (IMHO) a much greater and broader view. They probably wanted the whole system to be strong, self-protected, so you start to build 'locally', and each 'small' area is a lab where you test strenghts and weaknesses, and you grow, and grow... etc
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Feb 23 at 5:03

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