Characteristic Enteries in His Diary

Author: John Adams  | Date: 1826

A Place for Kings

Franklin told us one of his characteristic stories. "A Spanish writer of certain visions of Hell, relates that a certain devil, who was civil and well-bred, showed him all the apartments in the place, among others, that of deceased kings. The Spaniard was much pleased at so illustrious a sight, and after viewing them for some time, said he should be glad to see the rest of them. ’The rest?’ said the demon. ’Here are all the kings that ever reigned upon earth, from the creation of it to this day. What the devil would the man have?’ This was not so charitable as Dr. Watts, who, in his View of Heaven, says, ’Here and there I see a king.’" This seems to imply, that kings are as good as other men, since it is but here and there that we see a king upon earth.

The truth is, that neither then, nor at any former time, since I had attained any maturity in age, reading, and reflection, had I imbibed any general prejudice against, or in favor of kings. It appeared to me then, as it has done ever since, that there is a state of Society in which a republican government is the best, and, in America, the only one which ought to be adopted or thought of, because the morals of the people, and circumstances of the country, not only can bear it, but require it. But, in several of the great nations of Europe, kings appeared to me to be as necessary as any government at all. Nor had I ever seen any reason to believe that kings were, in general, worse than other men....


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Chicago: John Adams, "A Place for Kings," Characteristic Enteries in His Diary in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed April 23, 2019,

MLA: Adams, John. "A Place for Kings." Characteristic Enteries in His Diary, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 23 Apr. 2019.

Harvard: Adams, J, 'A Place for Kings' in Characteristic Enteries in His Diary. cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 23 April 2019, from