John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were optimists — and they were smarter than you

Two more quotes for this week’s theme of optimism — here are two signers of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Presidents on the topic.

First up is John Adams, who wrote this about the day that was to be called “Independence Day”:

[It] will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

~ From a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776.

Next is Mr. Jefferson:

I shall not die without a hope that light and liberty are on steady advance… And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and liberties of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them…The flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

~ Letter to John Adams, Monticello, September 12, 1821.

First published November 19, 2013.