It’s a good line, one almost-Mark Twain-ism that makes people of every political strips smile. It’s meeting to man Adams:

I have pertained to the conclusion that one useless male is called a disgrace; that 2 are dubbed a regulation firm; and that three or an ext become a Congress!

There’s a problem: John Adams didn’t speak it.

You are watching: One useless man is called a disgrace

It’s a line from the 1969 Broadway music comedy 1776!

The character man Adams in the play stated it.


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Playwright Peter rock wrote the witticism deadline to john Adams. Theatrical civil liberties image


We should more accurately attribute it to the play’s book’s author, Peter Stone.

What john Adams did no say about Congress, Peter rock wrote. Together wit deserves proper attribution.

Mention the “law firms” offers away the origin’s gift much later on than Adams’s — Adams died, together you know, ~ above July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Independence. “Law firms” is 20th century language.

A job after Fulbright & Jaworski gmbh announced a merger with Norton Rose, one might almost wish that law firms would certainly be just three people. Norton climbed Fulbright starts out with 3,800 lawyers in 55 offices roughly the world. The distaste with lawyers in the rock quote additionally doesn’t ring come the times of the American Revolution. Great lawyer jokes most likely existed then, however they didn’t really increase until the lawyerly pettifogging of the 19th century — see Dickens’ Mr. Bumble in thing 51 the Oliver Twist, or the whole text the Bleak House, because that examples. Two joked around Congress, but a joke around both Congress and also lawyers probably was rare prior to 1910. (I am ready to be disabused the this idea, if ns am wrong . . . Comments space open.)

Wikiquote’s rapid development provides us v a great check on whether Adams stated it — Wikiquote point out us plainly to Peter rock instead.

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Stone died in 2003, lot underappreciated if you ask me. Stone might be said to be amongst the greatest ghost speechwriters in background based on 1776! alone, developing lines for john Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson — three of the best authors and also (sometimes reluctant) speaker of your day, and of every history. Stone’s plays include Titanic and two by Two, his screenplays include Charade, Arabesque, Mirage, The taking of Pelham 123, and dad Goose.