Johnny Tremain Quotes

Instructor: Valerie Keenan

Valerie has taught elementary school and has her master's degree in education.

The way people spoke in the eighteenth century is completely different from the way we speak today. Read about some of the most important quotes from 'Johnny Tremain,' learn what they meant and understand them in terms of how we might say them today.

Fancy a Conversation in the Eighteenth Century?

Johnny Tremain takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, almost 250 years ago. A lot of things were different back then, including the way people talked. For instance, a jake was a bathroom. Can you picture yourself asking to use the jake? It would feel silly, I'm sure, but back then it was perfectly normal. Language is constantly changing, and, in Johnny Tremain, some of the things that are said might be a tad bit hard to understand, so let's decipher some of them!

Important Quotes from Johnny Tremain

  • ''It is all another way of saying-God's way of saying-that pride goeth before a fall.''

Johnny says this near the beginning of the book to explain the Bible verses that Mr. Lapham made him read. Mr. Lapham is warning Johnny that if he continues to be so full of pride, something bad might happen. How might we say this today? Perhaps, 'That's gonna come back to bite you!'

  • ''The hour of destruction, of manly opposition to the machinations of Tyranny, stares you in the face.''

Samuel Adams, a leader in the rebellion against England, writes this to try and urge colonists to resist England's unfair tea tax by joining in the Boston Tea Party. In this quote, he is referring to the Tea Party as the hour of destruction; manly opposition refers to the colonists as being human beings against something, and to the machinations of Tyranny refers to the British government acting as a machine with no feelings. Tyranny is using power unreasonably and cruelly.

If you've ever been angry enough to shout 'I'll teach you to mess with me!' maybe you understand what Samuel Adams and his fellow patriots were dealing with.

Samuel Adams referred to the Boston Tea Party as the hour of destruction
Boston Tea Party

  • ''We give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills . . . we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up.''

James Otis gave this speech to say, 'We're doing this for everybody, to give them courage when they might be struggling.' This helped some people understand why the Revolutionary War, America's fight for independence from Great Britain, had to happen. When you feel the urge to take a stand for what's right, remember those who fought long ago to make you brave!

  • ''The cow that lowed, the man who milked, the chickens that came running and the woman who called them, the fragrance streaming from the plowed land and the plowman. These he possessed.''

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