Brotherly Love Among The Founding Fathers

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John Adams on Thomas Jefferson: “[He has] a mind, soured, yet seeking for popularity, and eaten to a honeycomb with ambition, yet weak, confused, uninformed, and ignorant.”

—on Alexander Hamilton: “This man is stark mad, or I am.” “[Consider] the profligacy of his life; his fornications, adulteries and his incests.”

—on Benjamin Franklin: “His whole life has been one continued insult to good manners and to decency. … From five complete years of experience of Dr. Franklin … I can have no dependence on his word. … I wish with all my soul he was out of public service.”

Thomas Jefferson on Adams: “[He is] distrustful, obstinate, excessively vain, and takes no counsel from anyone.”

—on Hamilton: “I will not suffer my retirement to be clouded by the slanders of a man whose history, from the moment at which history can stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of the country which not only has received and given him bread, but heaped its honors on his head.”

Alexander Hamilton on Jefferson: “A man of profound ambition and violent passions … the most intriguing man in the United States … the intriguing incendiary, the aspiring turbulent competitor … prone to projects which are incompatible with the principles of stable and systematic government.”

—on Adams: “… disgusting egotism … distempered jealousy … ungovernable indiscretion.” “… vanity without bounds.”

Benjamin Franklin on vituperation: “Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.”

Compiled by Robert C. Alberts