John Adams, Constitution Monger

33 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2012

See all articles by David Konig

David Konig

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: July 13, 2012


John Adams never ceased defending his work as “Constitution monger.” As author of the Massachusetts constitution of 1780, he had successfully devised a governmental structure of separated powers and fixed, express limitations that became an enduring model for modern American constitutionalism. Even so, he continued to believe this structure – resting on a bicameral legislature, a strong executive, and an independent judiciary – to be in constant danger. The threat, he feared, began with human nature itself, which he viewed as prone to irrationality and disorder. Men in the abstract might be trusted and their sovereignty acknowledged, but in reality it was necessary to create a “government of laws, and not of men.” This essay examines his experience in the tumultuous world of Massachusetts politics and his efforts to embody the will of the people and simultaneously to protect it from itself

Keywords: Adams, Constitution, Bicameral, Revolution, Separation of Powers

Suggested Citation

Konig, David, John Adams, Constitution Monger (July 13, 2012). Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-07-01. Available at SSRN: or

David Konig (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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