Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, December 12, 1816

Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, December 12, 1816

John Adams
December 12, 1816

Adams summarizes his religious creed in four words: “Be just and good.”

return the Analysis of Dupuis, with my thanks for the loan of it. It is but a faint miniature of the original. I have read that original in twelve volumes, besides a thirteenth of plates. I have been a lover and a reader of romances all my life, from Don Quixote and Gil Bias to the Scottish Chiefs, and a hundred others. For the last year or two I have devoted myself to this kind of study, and have read fifteen volumes of Grimm, seven volumes of Tucker’s Neddy Search,1 twelve volumes of Dupuis, and Tracy’s Analysis, and four volumes of Jesuitical History! Romances all! I have learned nothing of importance to me, for they have made no change in my moral or religious creed, which has, for fifty or sixty years, been contained in four short words, “Be just and good.” In this result they all agree with me.

I must acknowledge, however, that I have found in Dupuis more ideas that were new to me, than in all the others. My conclusion from all of them is universal toleration. Is there any work extant so well calculated to discredit corruptions and impostures in religion as Dupuis?

The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With A Life of the Author by Charles Francis Adams, Volume IX, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1854.