Texas Liberal

All People Matter

John Adams’ View Of What Makes A Gentleperson

I’ve been reading Revolutionary Characters—What Made The Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood. Here is a brief review of this book.

In this book I read about what John Adams said makes a “gentleman”—

“By gentleman, are not meant rich or the poor, the high-born or the low-born, the industrious or the idle: but all those who have received…an ordinary degree of erudition in liberal arts and sciences. Whether by birth they be descended from magistrates and officers of government, or from husbandman, merchants, mechanics, or laborers; or whether they be rich or poor. 

I like this idea by President Adams very much. All that’s needed is to update what he said to include women.



President Adams suggests, correctly, that learning is the path to distinction and societal honor. 

Without forgetting that some face disadvantages in life that get in the way of learning, knowledge is accessible in our society at low cost. There is a lot to learn online, books are often cheap, and the library is free.  

All people have the ability to be well-learned, wise and, as a result, distinguished.

Click here for the excellent John Adams page at the Univ. of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs.

The painting of Mr. Adams is by Gilbert Stuart and was completed in 1823.  

May 24, 2008 Posted by | Art, Books, History | , , , , , | 1 Comment