FACT CHECK: Did John Adams Say, ‘There Are Two Ways To Conquer And Enslave A Nation. One Is By Sword. The Other Is By Debt’?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that founding father John Adams once said, “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword. The other is by debt.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Adams said or wrote the statement.

Fact Check:

One of the founding fathers, Adams was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and later became the country’s second president. He also drafted the Massachusetts Constitution. (RELATED: Did Thomas Jefferson Say, ‘When The People Fear The Government, There Is Tyranny’?)

While Adams wrote and spoke on a variety of subjects during his lifetime, the Daily Caller found no evidence that he originated the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post. A search of the Adams Family Papers, as well as another collection of his writings, yielded no results.

Sara Martin, the editor-in-chief of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, told the Caller in an email, “While the sentiment of this quotation is in keeping with John Adams, we have found no direct evidence that Adams ever wrote it.”

Further adding to the dubiousness of the attribution, etymologist Barry Popik found that the quote has only appeared in print since 2002.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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