Another way to say "I'm too old for this shit"
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

John Adams got it right, in that we must secure for ourselves an order, a government capable of protecting us and our children, before we can prosper, and that we must be prosperous before we can make and appreciate art. It is a sort of recapitulation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, on the scale of a society rather than the individual.

But something is missing. This sentence to Abigail implies that John expected to be able to fight war and conduct statesmanship as if once it were done right, it would stay done forever and his progeny would be relieved of such heavy and exacting responsibility. Of course this is not what he meant in this letter, but that's what it sounds like. And it is not so.

Each generation must study politics and war, to assure that future generations even draw breath. War will not go away, become obsolete, cease to matter or forget to be waged. As each generation matures, it has bought for itself the opportunity to teach the sword to its successor, and the successor generation has reached the age when they must learn how dear life is, so we teach them to preserve it.

We then lay these studies aside for mathematics, philosophy, geography, and the other sciences. And then teach those to the successor generation as they lay aside the sword, in their turn.

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