In this second volume of A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, John Adams continues his argument against Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot and his theories of “collecting all authority into one center.”
Delving into the Italian republics of the middle age, Adams uses pure history, extensive extracts from the works of Italian historians, to demonstrate to the American people, and the world, that the same tumult, corruption and blood that so pervaded those governments of the past, would be the effects of any government so constituted.
“It is not easy to conceive what further experiments can be made of a sovereignty in one assembly, or how the consequences to be drawn from them can be more decisive. Whether the assembly consists of a larger or a smaller number, of nobles or commons, of great people or little, of rich or poor, of substantial men or the rabble, the effects are all the same,—No order, no safety, no liberty, because no government of law.”
“There are extant a multitude of particular histories of these cities, full of excellent warning for the people of America. Let me recommend it to you, my young readers, who have time enough before you, to make yourselves masters of the Italian language, and avail your country of all the instruction contained in them.”
Inspired by events in Europe and influencing events in America, Adams’ extensive work is a partial history of man’s eternal struggle to control power, and can serve for all time as a guidebook on the means to keep a people free.