John Adams & the jesuits

Here are excerpts from the writings of John Adams on the jesuits. This will help give a clearer picture of what they really are:
All of John Adams writings here
My commentary, click here.


FROM JOHN ADAMS TO THOMAS JEFFERSON 9 August, 1816
My History of the Jesuits is not elegantly written, but is supported by unquestionable authorities, is very particular and very horrible. Their restoration is indeed “a step towards darkness,” cruelty, perfidy, despotism, death and—! I wish we [226] were out of danger of bigotry and Jesuitism. May we be “a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism.” What a colossus shall we be! But will it not be of brass, iron, and clay? Your taste is judicious in liking better the dreams of the future than the history of the past. Upon this principle I prophesy that you and I shall soon meet better friends than ever. So wishes

FROM JOHN ADAMS TO THOMAS JEFFERSON 6 May, 1816
I do not like the late resurrection of the Jesuits. They have a general now in Russia, in correspondence with the Jesuits in the United States, who are more numerous than everybody knows. Shall we not have swarms of them here, in as many shapes and disguises as ever a king of the gypsies, Bampfylde Moore Carew himself, assumed? In the shape of printers, editors, writers, schoolmasters, etc..? I have lately read Pascal’s letters over again, and four volumes of the History of the Jesuits. If ever any congregation of men could merit eternal perdition on earth and in hell, according to these historians, though, like Pascal, true Catholics, it is this company of Loyola.

THOMAS JEFFERSON TO JOHN ADAMS 1 August, 1816
I dislike, with you, their restoration, because it marks a retrograde step from light towards darkness.

The following are more excerpts from his writtings, some from him and some to him:

My History of the Jesuits is in four volumes in twelves, under the title of “Histoire Générale de la Naissance et des Progrès de la Compagnie de Jésus, et l’Analyse de ses Constitutions et ses Priviléges,” printed at Amsterdam in 1761. The work is anonymous, because, as I suppose, the author was afraid, as all the monarchs of Europe were, at that time, of Jesuitical assassination. The author, however, supports his facts by authentic records and known authorities which the public may consult.


I have read D’Argens’ Ocellus, Timæus, and Julian. Instead of being sincere, he appears to me to be a consummate hypocrite, in the beginning, the middle, and the end; the most frank, candid, impudent, and sincere liar I ever read. It is plain that he believed neither Old Testament nor New, neither Moses nor Jesus. He labors to destroy the credibility of the whole Bible, and all the evidence of a future state, and all this for the sake of establishing the infallibility of the Pope and the church, the necessity of forbidding the Bible to the people, and placing all religion in grace, and its offspring, faith. Among all the disciples of Loyola, I never read a more perfect Jesuit. He is a complete exemplification of Condorcet’s “precious confessions,” as you called them. You speak of his “superficial reflections.” I have not found them. They are all deep, and aiming at the same end, a complete system of Antichristianity. No epic poem, no dramatic romance, not even Don Quixote himself, ever amused me more. Call him not superficial; his Greek and his Latin are remarkably correct, his reading is immense, his system pursued with undeviating uniformity.


A suspicion instantly arose in my mind, which I have ever [399] believed to have been well founded, that this artful Jesuit, for I had been before apprized of his character, was endeavoring to avail himself of this opportunity to break up the Congress, or at least to withdraw the Quakers and the governing part of Pennsylvania from us; for, at that time, by means of a most unequal representation, the Quakers had a majority in their House of Assembly, and, by consequence, the whole power of the State in their hands


The causes that impede political knowledge would fill a hundred volumes. How can I crowd a few hints at them in a single volume, much less, in a single letter?

Give me leave to select one attempt to improve civil, political, and ecclesiastical knowledge; or, at least, to arrest and retard the progress of ignorance, hypocrisy, and knavery; and the reception it met in the world, tending to “arrest our efforts and appall our hopes.” Can you believe that Jesuits conceived this design? Yet true it is.


Let us conclude with one reflection more which shall barely be hinted at, as delicacy, if not prudence, may require, in this place, some degree of reserve. Is there a possibility that the government of nations may fall into the hands of men who teach the most disconsolate of all creeds, that men are but fireflies, and that this all is without a father? Is this the way to make man, as man, an object of respect? Or is it to make murder itself as indifferent as shooting a plover, and the extermination of the Rohilla nation as innocent as the swallowing of mites on a morsel of cheese? If such a case should happen, would not one of these, the most credulous of all believers, have reason to pray to his eternal nature or his almighty chance (the more absurdity there is in this address the more in character) give us again the gods of the Greeks; give us again the more intelligible as well as more comfortable systems of Athanasius and Calvin; nay, give us again our popes and hierarchies, Benedictines and Jesuits, with all their superstition and fanaticism, impostures and tyranny.


The events in Europe, since 3 March, 1813, are remarkable. Napoleon is now in Elba, and Talleyrand at Vienna! Let us read Candide, and Zadig, and Rasselas, and see if there is any thing extravagant in them.

Have not philosophers been as honest, and as mad, as popes, Jesuits, priests, emperors, kings, heroes, conquerors? Has the Inquisition been more cruel than Robespierre, or Marat, or Napoleon?

Man ought to “drop into himself.”

The Inquisition is now revived, and the order of the Jesuits is restored. Sic transit gloria philosophiœ. Even Gibbon was for restoring the Inquisition! Philosophy is now as distracted as it was in Alexandria during the siege of Jerusalem! And where is our New England bound? To Hartford Convention!


That aristocracies, both ancient and modern, have been “variable and artificial,” as well as natural and unchangeable, Mr. Adams knows as well as Mr. Taylor, and has never denied or doubted. That “they have all proceeded from moral causes,” is not so clear, since many of them appear to proceed from physical causes, many from immoral causes, many from pharisaical, jesuitical, and Machiavelian villany; many from sacerdotal and despotic fraud, and as many as all the rest, from democratical dupery, credulity, adulation, corruption, adoration, superstition, and enthusiasm. If all these cannot be regulated by political laws, and controlled, checked, or balanced by constitutional energies, I am willing Mr. Taylor should say of them what [455] Bishop Burnet said of the hierarchy, or the severest things he can express or imagine.


Is it not a damper to any ardor in search of truth, to read the absurd criticism, the stupid observations, the jesuitical subtleties, the studied lies that have been printed concerning my writings, in this my dear, native country, for five-and-twenty years? To [483] read the ribaldry of Markoe and Brown, Paine and Callender, four vagabonds from Great Britain? and to see their most profligate effusions applauded and sanctioned by a nation?


We curse the Inquisition and the Jesuits, and yet the Inquisition and the Jesuits are restored.


I admire the Jesuits! The science is so exquisite, and there are such immense advantages in it, that it is (if it were not for the deviltry of it) most ardently to be wished. To see them bowing, smiling, cringing, and seeming cordially friendly, to persons whom they openly avowed their malice against two years ago, and whom they would gladly butcher now, is provoking, yet diverting.


Whatever may be the fate of our government in the United States, I decidedly think with you, for the reason you assign, that a democratic form in France, in the present age, was preposterous. I entertain the same opinion of the Spanish provinces in South America. The form established last year by the Cortes of Spain is admirably adapted to the state of civilization in the peninsula. It is a capital performance, but will be attacked and resisted by the inquisitors, Jesuits, monks, and all the bigots and petty tyrants.


My friend, again! the question before mankind is,—how shall I state it? It is, whether authority is from nature and reason, or from miraculous revelation; from the revelation from God, by the human understanding, or from the revelation to Moses and to Constantine, and the Council of Nice. Whether it resides in men or in offices. Whether offices, spiritual and temporal, are instituted by men, or whether they are self-created and instituted themselves. Whether they were or were not [170] brought down from Heaven in a phial of holy oil, sent by the Holy Ghost, by an angel incarnated in a dove, to anoint the head of Clovis, a more cruel tyrant than Frederic or Napoleon. Are the original principles of authority in human nature, or in stars, garters, crosses, golden fleeces, crowns, sceptres, and thrones? These profound and important questions have been agitated and discussed, before that vast democratical congregation, mankind, for more than five hundred years. How many crusades, how many Hussite wars, how many powder plots, St. Bartholomew’s days, Irish massacres, Albigensian massacres, and battles of Marengo have intervened! Sub judice lis est. Will Zinzendorf, Swedenborg, Whitefield, or Wesley prevail? Or will St. Ignatius Loyola inquisitionize and jesuitize them all? Alas, poor human nature! Thou art responsible to thy Maker and to thyself for an impartial verdict and judgment.


Awakenings and revivals of religion always attend the most cruel extremities of anarchy, despotism, and civil war. They have brought again the Pope and all his train of Jesuits, Inquisitions, Sorbonnes, massacres, &c. The pendulum swings as far on one side as on the other. You and I should be convinced that our friend, Governor Adams, was in the right when he said, that anarchy was better than tyranny, because it was of shorter duration, if we did not know that anarchy is always followed by more permanent despotism.