View Full Version : Is this a John Quincy Adams quote?

08-05-2014, 07:52 AM
Lately I've seen the following attributed to John Quincy Adams in numerous places around the Internet:

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

The rhythm and wording of it seem very modern to me, and don't strike me as in keeping with the tone of his writing.

I'm no historian though, and haven't read a lot of his original work. So two questions:

1. Is there a cite out there to show these are really his words?

2. How does one go about researching such a thing? I mean, is there a reliable academic database (no, I don't mean Snopes) that one can go to? I don't have the time or expertise to start combing through all of his original works. . . but I realized when I formed this question that I hadn't the first clue how to answer it.

Thanks for any enlightenment you can provide!

08-05-2014, 11:46 AM
The quote investigator (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/07/03/inspire-dream-leader/) website has a fairly comprehensive analysis of this quote that comes down on it definitely not being from Adams, and most likely being a variation on something said by Dolly Parton.

I generally research quotes by googling for references that include source links, and then seeking out the sources. Wikiquote has a good page of John Quincy Adams (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Quincy_Adams) quotes that includes original source references, but this particular quote is not listed there (and is apparently not from Adams anyway).

08-06-2014, 08:43 PM

08-06-2014, 10:20 PM
The "reliable academic database" you are looking for would, in this case, be the complete works of John Quincy Adams. As he is a fairly prominent historical figure, such a corpus of his works probably exists, probably running to multiple volumes. If it has been digitized, it could quickly be searched for the quote you are interested in. If not, you might have to tediously read through the whole lot to be sure that it wasn't there. (Although even your local public library could probably provide you with copies of his works in print form - though maybe only for a brief time, via interlibrary loan - I suspect that, unless you have full access to good university library, getting access to a complete digitization, if it even exists, would be expensive.)

08-06-2014, 10:40 PM
I know little of John Quincy Adams, but from his portraits he looks to be always muttering "Oh Buggery" querulously nonstop under his breath. And nothing else.