Today we continue our series examining our Founding Fathers in their own words and considering their high esteem for religion, religious liberty, and virtue.

Below is an excerpt from a letter John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s second president, wrote to his cousin Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776.

“Who would not exchange the discordant scenes of envy, pride, vanity, malice, revenge, for the sweet consolations of philosophy, the serene composure of the passions, the divine enjoyments of Christian charity and benevolence?

“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue; and if this cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty. They will only exchange tyrants and tyrannies. You cannot, therefore, be more pleasantly or usefully employed than in the way of your profession, pulling down the strong-holds of Satan. This is not cant, but the real sentiment of my heart.”