Quotation by David H. Burton

Burke and Adams had much in common. Adams read Burke's Philosophical Inquiry, for example, as part of his preparation for life and a career. Burke—who had sympathized with the American Revolution—after all, the patriots were only seeking their rights as Englishmen—became the avowed enemy of the French Revolution. Adams for his part was not only a thinker, he was a doer: a daring patriot, diplomat, vice-president and president. Yet he never abandoned the life of the mind, as his discourse against the French Revolution attests. Burke and Adams had their similar views on events because they each saw man as disposed to selfishness, requiring public institutions to which civic allegiance is owed to restrain those ignoble instincts so that the virtuous side of people would have a chance to flourish. It was, oddly, an optimism based on a pessimistic estimate of human nature.
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