President John Adams on Oliver Cromwell

April 25, 1599 - September 3, 1658

Cromwell was prototype to Washington; both, men of freedom, tolerance, piety and compassion -- as well as men of war, and victory for constitutional government and democracy.

[In April 1786 John Adams hosted Thomas Jefferson in London. Here, they have visited Shakespeare's home, where Jefferson was deeply moved, and now are surveying Cromwell's battle sites.]

"At Edgehill, scene of the first great battle of the English civil war, and later at Worchester, the setting of Cromwell's final victory over Charles II [sic], in the year 1651, it was Adams' turn to be deeply moved. This was history he knew in detail. Here were "scenes where freemen had fought for their rights," he wrote in his diary. Finding some of the local residents sadly ignorant of the subject, he gave them an impromptu lecture.

"And do Englishmen so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for?" he asked. "Tell your neighbors and your children that this is holy ground,…All England should come in pilgrimage to this hill once a year." "

John Adams, by David McCullough, p 359; Simon & Schuster, 2001

Cambridge University Cromwell Exhibition


Portrait by Sir Peter Lely

It was to Lely that Cromwell gave the famous command 'paint... warts and all'.

It seems that George W Bush (Lincoln too) has adopted the famous quote, "Necessity hath no law".

To the Presbyterians of Scotland, Cromwell wrote, "I BESEECH YOU IN THE BOWELS OF CHRIST THINK IT POSSIBLE YOU MAY BE MISTAKEN."
In a letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. 1650.

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Cromwell's foreshadowing of the American experiment:

"IN EVERY GOVERNMENT THERE MUST BE SOMEWHAT FUNDAMENTAL, SOMEWHAT LIKE A MAGNA CHARTA, THAT SHOULD BE STANDING AND UNALTERABLE...THAT PARLIAMENTS SHOULD NOT MAKE THEMSELVES PERPETUAL IS A FUNDAMENTAL."
Cromwell in a speech to the first Protectorate Parliament, 12 September 1654.

"YOU ARE AS LIKE THE FORMING OF GOD AS EVER PEOPLE WERE...YOU ARE AT THE EDGE OF PROMISES AND PROPHECIES."
Cromwell addressing the Barebones Parliament. July 1653.
Antonia Fraser; Cromwell, Our Chief of Men.


"Things will shortly happen which have been unheard of, and above all would open the eyes of those who live under Kings and other Sovereigns, and lead to great changes. Cromwell alone holds the direction of political and military affairs in his hands. He is one who is worth all the others put together, and, in effect, King."
John Dury in conversation with Hermann Mylius, envoy of a small German principality, 27 September 1651.
L.Miller, John Milton and the Oldenburg Safe Gaurd. David L.Smith; Oliver Cromwell. 1640-1658.

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To the portrait artist:
"MR LELY, I DESIRE YOU WOULD USE ALL YOUR SKILL TO PAINT YOUR PICTURE TRULY LIKE ME, AND NOT FLATTER ME AT ALL; BUT REMARK ALL THESE ROUGHNESS, PIMPLES, WARTS, AND EVERYTHING AS YOU SEE ME; OTHERWISE I WILL NEVER PAY A FARTHING FOR IT."
Cromwell on having his portrait painted, in Horace Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting.
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

"Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud,
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way has ploughed
And on the neck of crowned fortune proud
Has reared God's trophies, and his work pursued,
While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud,
And Worcester's laureate wreath. Yet much remains
To conquer still; peace hath her victories
No less renowned than war: new foes arise,
Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains:
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw."

John Milton, Sonnet XV1, To the Lord General Cromwell.
The Dictionary of Biographical Quotations