Thomas Jefferson

Founder Of The Democratic Party

"Democracy's the worst form of 
government except for all the others."
Winston Churchill

Freedom has a thousand charms to show that slaves,
howe'er contented cannot know.
William Cowper

Do, or do not.  There is no 'try'

God is a comedian playing to a audience 
too afraid to laugh

American Character
"It is part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate."
Thomas Jefferson

When angry, count ten before you speak; 
if very angry, one hundred.
Thomas Jefferson

For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so,
a well organized and armed militia is their best security.
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Eighth Annual Message, November 8, 1808

No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. 
Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain their right 
to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect 
themselves against tyranny in government.   
Thomas Jefferson

"A strong body makes the mind strong.
As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun.
While this gives moderate exercise to the body,
it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind.
Games played with the ball, and others of that nature,
are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind.
Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walk."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: in a letter written in Paris to his nephew and ward Peter Carr, 
Foley, ed., Encyclopedia of Thomas Jefferson, p. 318.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous 
to our liberties than standing armies. Already they 
have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set 
the Government at defiance. The issuing power should 
be taken from the banks and restored to the people to 
whom it properly belongs.   
Thomas Jefferson

If the American people ever allow private banks to 
control the issue of their money, first by inflation 
and then by deflation, the banks and corporations 
that will grow up around them (around the banks), 
will deprive the people of their property until their 
children will wake up homeless on the continent 
their fathers conquered.   
Thomas Jefferson

The system of banking [is] a blot left in all our 
Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their 
destruction... I sincerely believe that banking 
institutions are more dangerous than standing 
armies; and that the principle of spending money 
to be paid by posterity
... is but swindling futurity on a large scale.   
Thomas Jefferson

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on 
this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United 
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the 
states, are preserved to the states or to the people.' 
... To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially 
drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession 
of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any 
definition. The incorporation of a bank, and the powers assumed 
by this bill (chartering the first Bank of the United States), 
have not, been delegated to the United States by the Constitution."
Thomas Jefferson

Be Quiet
If a member finds that it is not the inclination of the House to hear
him, and that by conversation or any other noise they endeavor to 
drown his voice, it is his most prudent way to submit to the pleasure
of the House, and sit down.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Hind's Precedents of the US House

"Those who bear equally the burthens of Government 
should equally participate of its benefits." 
Thomas Jefferson

"We shall have our follies without doubt. Some one or more of them will
always be afloat. But ours will be the follies of enthusiasm,
not of bigotry, not of Jesuitism. Bigotry is the disease of ignorance,
of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free
discussion are the antidotes of both."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to John Adams, August 1, 1816

"I cannot live without books."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to John Adams, June 10, 1815

"Were we directed from Washington
when to sow and when to reap,
we should soon want bread."
-- Thomas Jefferson

"I am really mortified to be told that, in the United 
States of America, a fact like this can become a subject 
of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence 
against religion; that a question about the sale of a
book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is 
this then our freedom of religion? And are we to have a 
censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, 
and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize 
religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to 
be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or 
stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall 
a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as
the rule for what we are to read, and what we must 
believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question 
whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy 
against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of 
truth and reason."
Thomas Jefferson 
Source: Letter, 19 April 1814

Where a new invention promises to be useful, 
it ought to be tried. 
Thomas Jefferson  

"Choice by the people themselves is not generally distinguished 
for its wisdom."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: 1776, Jefferson’s Literary Commonplace Book, 
Wilson, ed., 1989, p. 11.

Church and State
Believing with you that religion is a matter which 
lies solely between man and his God, I contemplate 
with solemn reverence that act of the whole 
American people which declared that their legislature 
should "make no law respecting an establishment 
of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" 
thus building a wall of separation between 
Church and State.   
Thomas Jefferson

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 
twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor 
breaks my leg."
Thomas Jefferson quoted by Gerard Straub in
"Salvation for Sale"

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been 
hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the 
despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection 
to his own"
Thomas Jefferson, 1814

"Our particular principles of religion are
a subject of accountability to our god alone.
I enquire after no man's and trouble none with mine;
nor is it given to us in this life to know whether yours or mine,
our friend's or our foe's, are exactly the right."
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Source: letter to Miles King, September 26, 1814

"I view great cities as pestilential to the morals,
the health and the liberties of man.
True, they nourish some of the elegant arts;
but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere;
and less perfection in the others, with more health,
virtue and freedom, would be my choice."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173

Citizen Soldier
"Every citizen should be a soldier.
This was the case with the Greeks and Romans,
and must be that of every free state."
Thomas Jefferson

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on 
this ground: That 'all powers not delegated to the 
United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it 
to the States, are reserved to the States or to 
the people' (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the 
boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, 
is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer 
susceptible to any definition."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to George Washington,15 February, 1791 

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government,
so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution
so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."
Thomas Jefferson

"The constitutions of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all
power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it 
is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to 
freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property and freedom of the press."
Thomas Jefferson

"The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the 
States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to 
everything respecting foreign affairs. Let the General Government be reduced to 
foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all 
other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the 
better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our General 
Government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive 
one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: March 1800

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to 
remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Power Negotiating

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed 
corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a 
trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Thomas Jefferson, 1812 
Source:Liberty Quotes

"If we keep together we shall be safe, and when error is 
so apparent as to become visible to the majority, 
they will correct it." 
Thomas Jefferson

"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the 
germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIX, 1787

Despotism (i.e. Bushism)
"Force (is) the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism."
Thomas Jefferson

An elective despotism was not the government we 
fought for, but one which should not only be founded 
on true free principles, but in which the powers of 
government should be so divided and balanced 
among general bodies of magistracy, as that no one 
could transcend their legal limits without being 
effectually checked and restrained by the others.   
Thomas Jefferson

We are not to expect to be translated from despotism 
to liberty in a feather bed.   
Thomas Jefferson

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important 
republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the 
dangers to be feared."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to William Plumer, July 21, 1816

...we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual 
debt. We must make our election between economy 
and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into 
such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and 
in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in 
our labors and our amusements, for our calling and 
our creeds...    
Thomas Jefferson

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.
We must make our election between economy and liberty
or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as 
that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in 
our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and
our amusements, for our calling and our creeds...
[we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our 
miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence 
by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks 
of our fellow-sufferers...
And this is the tendency of all human governments.
A departure from principle in one instance becomes a 
precedent for [another ]... till the bulk of society 
is reduced to be mere automatons of misery...
And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt.
Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and 
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of 
Independence, 3rd US President
Source: Letter to Samuel Kercheval, Monticello, July 12, 1816

Declaration of Independence
May [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, 
what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to 
others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing 
men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance 
and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, 
and to assume the blessings and security of 
self-government. That form which we have substituted, 
restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of 
reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, 
or opening, to the rights of man.   
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Roger Weightman on June 24, 1826. 
It was his last letter, written ten days before his death - July 4th, 1826, 
the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident,--that all 
men are created equal; that they are endowed by 
their Creator with certain unalienable rights; 
that among these are Life, Liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness.
- Declaration of Independence of the 
United States of America 

When in the Course of human Events, it becomes 
necessary for one People to dissolve the Political 
Bonds which have connected them with another, 
and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, 
the separate and equal Station to which the Laws 
of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, 
a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind 
requires that they should declare the causes 
which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, 
that all men are created equal, that they are 
endowed by their Creator with certain 
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, 
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to 
secure these rights, Governments are instituted 
among Men, deriving their just powers from the 
consent of the governed. That whenever any Form 
of Government becomes destructive to these ends, 
it is the Right of the People to alter or to 
abolish it, and to institute new Government, 
having its foundation on such principles and 
organizing its powers in such form, as to them 
shall seem seem most likely to effect their 
Safety and Happiness. . . .
Thomas Jefferson

Declaration of Rights
"By a declaration of rights, I mean one which 
shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom 
of the press, freedom of commerce against 
monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no 
suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing 
armies. These are fetters against doing evil 
which no honest government should decline."
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Liberty Quotes

Delay is preferable to error.   

"I have indeed two great measures at heart,
without which no republic can maintain itself in strength:
1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge 
for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.
2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all
the children of each will be within reach of a 
central school in it."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: in a letter to John Tyler, 1810.
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition 12:393 
(Lipscomb and Bergh, editors), 1903-04

"I... [proposed] three distinct grades of education, 
reaching all classes. 
1. Elementary schools for all children generally, 
rich and poor. 
2. Colleges for a middle degree of instruction, calculated for 
the common purposes of life and such as should be desirable 
for all who were in easy circumstances. 
And 3d. an ultimate grade for teaching the sciences generally 
and in their highest degree... 
The expenses of [the elementary] schools should be borne by the
inhabitants of the county, every one in proportion to his general
tax-rate. This would throw on wealth the education of the poor."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Source: Thomas Jefferson Autobiography, 1821
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition 1:70 
(Lipscomb and Bergh, editors), 1903-04

"Is it a right or a duty in society to take care of their 
infant members in opposition to the will of the parent? 
How far does this right and duty extend? --to guard the 
life of the infant, his property, his instruction, 
his morals? The Roman father was supreme in all these: 
we draw a line, but where? --public sentiment does not 
seem to have traced it precisely... It is better to 
tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing to let 
his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings 
and ideas by the forcible asportation and education of 
the infant against the will of the father... What is 
proposed... is to remove the objection of expense, 
by offering education gratis, and to strengthen parental 
excitement by the disfranchisement of his child while 
uneducated. Society has certainly a right to disavow him 
whom they offer, and are permitted to qualify for the 
duties of a citizen. If we do not force instruction, 
let us at least strengthen the motives to receive it 
when offered."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Note to Elementary School Act, 1817
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition 17:423 
(Lipscomb and Bergh, editors), 1903-04

Election Example
"I could think of no worse example for nations abroad, 
who for the first time were trying to put free 
electoral procedures into effect, than that of the 
United States wrangling over the results of our 
presidential election, and even suggesting that the 
presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the 
ballot box."
-- Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of 
Independence, 3rd US President Source:Liberty Quotes

"The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history,
whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite."
Thomas Jefferson

"While the farmer holds the title to the land, 
actually, it belongs to all the people because 
civilization itself rests upon the soil."
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 
quoted in the Des Moines Register, July 8, 1979.

"An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes." 
Thomas Jefferson

Equal Rights
Equal rights for all, special privileges for none.
Thomas Jefferson

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects 
what never was and never will be.   
Thomas Jefferson

Error and Government
"It is error alone which needs the support of government.
Truth can stand by itself."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Source: Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782

When the government fears the people there is liberty; 
when the people fear the government there is tyranny.   
Thomas Jefferson

I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be 
that men may be trusted to govern themselves 
without a master.   
Thomas Jefferson

God who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the 
liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have 
removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the 
minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? 
That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? 
Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that 
God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.   
Thomas Jefferson

Federal Judiciary
"The germ of dissolution of our federal government is 
in...the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for 
impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow,) working like 
gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day 
and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless 
step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until 
all shall be usurped from the States."
Thomas Jefferson, 1821

"The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners 
constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our 
confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a coordination 
of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. This 
will lay all things at their feet... We shall see if they are bold enough to 
take the daring stride their five lawyers have lately taken. If they do, 
then... I will say, that 'against this every man should raise his voice,' and 
more, should uplift his arm."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: (Letter to T. Ritchie, 1820). 

Fence Setters
"Where the principle of difference [between political 
parties] is as substantial and as strongly pronounced 
as between the republicans and the monocrats of our 
country, I hold it as honorable to take a firm and 
decided part and as immoral to pursue a middle line, 
as between the parties of honest men 
and rogues, into which every country is divided." 
Thomas Jefferson

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain 
men from injuring one another, shall leave them 
otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of 
industry and improvement.   
Thomas Jefferson

"If a nation expects to be ignorant -- and free -- 
in a state of civilization, it expects what never 
was and never will be."
Thomas Jefferson

"I predict future happiness for Americans
if they can prevent the government
from wasting the labors of the people
under the pretense of taking care of them."
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Liberty Quotes

God's Purpose
"The Giver of life gave it for happiness and not 
for wretchedness." --
Thomas Jefferson

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest."
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Liberty Quotes

"That government is best which governs the least,
because its people discipline themselves."
Thomas Jefferson

"Government can do something for the people
only in proportion as it can do something to the people. "
Thomas Jefferson

I think we have more machinery of government than 
is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor 
of the industrious.   
Thomas Jefferson

The happiness and prosperity of our citizens is 
the only legitimate object of government.   
Thomas Jefferson

The way to have good and safe government is not to 
trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, 
distributing to everyone exactly the functions in which 
he is competent.... 
- To let the National Government be entrusted with the 
defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations ...
- The State Governments with the Civil Rights, Laws, Police 
and administration of what concerns the State generally.
- The Counties with the local concerns, and each ward direct 
the interests within itself.
It is by dividing and subdividing these Republics from the great
national one down through all its subordinations until it ends in the
administration of everyman's farm by himself, by placing under everyone
what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best."
Thomas Jefferson

The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to 
do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.
Thomas Jefferson

"A government is republican in proportion as every member composing it 
has his equal voice in the direction of its concerns, not indeed in person, 
which would be impracticable beyond the limits of a city or small township, 
but by representatives chosen by himself and responsible to him 
at short periods."
Thomas Jefferson

"If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take,
their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."
Thomas Jefferson

Governmental Acts
Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the 
accidental opinion of the day; but a series of 
oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, 
and pursued unalterably through every change 
of ministers (adminstrators) too plainly proves a 
deliberate, systematic plan of reducing us to slavery.   
Thomas Jefferson

Great Innovations
Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1808

Habeas Corpus
Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections 
and rebellions? Examine the history of England. See 
how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas 
corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. 
They have been either real treasons, wherein the 
parties might as well have been charged at once, or 
sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever 
have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein 
the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real 
good, that operation is now become habitual and the 
minds of the nation almost prepared to live under 
its constant suspension.   
Thomas Jefferson

Hardest Job
To seek out the best [persons to serve in the government] 
though the whole Union, we must resort to the information 
which from the best of men, acting disinterestedly and with 
ther purest motives, is something incorrect....No duty the 
Executive had to perform was so trying as to put the right 
man in the right place.
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Letter to Elias Shipman, Jul 12, 1801

History, in general, only informs us what 
bad government is.
Thomas Jefferson

A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as 
to be always valuable.
Thomas Jefferson

"Experience has already shown that the impeachment
the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow."
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Liberty Quotes

Whenever people are well-informed they can be 
trusted with their own government.   
Thomas Jefferson

Ingenuity Gone Bad
"There is no act, however virtuous, for which
ingenuity may not find some bad motive."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803

The day will come when the mystical generation of 
Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the 
womb of a virgin will be classified with the fable of 
the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. 
But we may hope that the dawn of reason and 
freedom of thought in these United States will do 
away with this artificial scaffolding and restore to us 
the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most 
venerated Reformer of human errors.   
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

Law and Laws
"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding, and should, therefore, 
be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not 
to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties, which may make anything mean 
everything or nothing at pleasure."
Thomas Jefferson

"Laws provide against injury from others, but not from ourselves."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Notes on Religion
"Laws made by common consent must not be 
trampled on by individuals." 
Thomas Jefferson

Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the 
will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will 
to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority 
possess their equal rights, which equal law must 
protect, and to violate would be oppression.   
Thomas Jefferson

The study of the law is useful in a variety of points of view. 
It qualifies a man to be useful to himself, to his neighbours, 
and to the public.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to T. M. Randolph, May 30, 1790

"I would rather be exposed to the
inconveniences attending too much liberty
than to those attending too small a degree of it."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Letter, 23 December 1791

That liberty [is pure] which is to go to all, and not to 
the few or the rich alone.
Thomas Jefferson

The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at 
the same time.
Thomas Jefferson

"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience 
for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case 
of others."
Thomas Jefferson

Liberty is to the collective body,
what health is to every individual body.
Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man;
without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society."
Thomas Jefferson
3rd US President

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our 
will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of 
others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because 
law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it 
violates the rights of the individual."
Thomas Jefferson

"It is a great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, 
never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, 
so contemptible and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, 
finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at 
length it becomes habitual, he tells lies without attending to 
it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood 
of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves 
all it's good dispositions." 
Thomas Jefferson

I find that the harder I work, the more luck 
I seem to have.
Thomas Jefferson

Keeping Faith
"I never did, or countenanced, in public life, a single act inconsistent 
with the strictest good faith; having never believed there was one 
code of morality for a public, and another for a private man."
Thomas Jefferson

"[Bear] always in mind that a nation ceases to be 
republican only when the will of the majority 
ceases to be the law." 
Thomas Jefferson

"The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs,
nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately,
by the grace of God."
Thomas Jefferson

"What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man!
Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment & death itself
in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment ... inflict on
his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery
than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Jean Nicholas Demeunier, January 24, 1786

Merchants have no country.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to H. Spafford, Mar 17, 1814

Money, not morality, is the principle commerce 
of civilized nations.   
Thomas Jefferson

Natural Process
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield 
and government to gain ground.   
Thomas Jefferson

Nature's Laws
"It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislature
to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature,
and to arm them with the terrors of death.
This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Source: Note on the Crimes Bill, 1779

Never Existed
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a 
thing which never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of 
nations down to a town-meeting or a vestry.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to John Taylor, 1798

An individual, thinking himself injured, makes more 
noise than a State. 
Thomas Jefferson

Not The Governments Business
The opinions of men are not the object of civil government, 
nor under its jurisdiction.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Virginia Statute Of Religious Freedom

I have sworn upon the altar of Almighty God eternal 
hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind 
of man.   
Thomas Jefferson

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
Thomas Jefferson

"It is an encouraging observation that no good 
measure was ever proposed which, if duly pursued, 
failed to prevail in the end."
Thomas Jefferson

On Jesus and the Church
"[My views on Christianity] are the result of a life of inquiry
& reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system 
imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the 
corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the 
genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only 
sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, 
in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human 
excellence; & believing he never claimed any other."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Apr. 21, 1803

"Nothing can be more exactly and seriously true than what is there 
[the very words only of Jesus] stated; that but a short time elapsed 
after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before 
his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his 
special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, 
and aggrandising their oppressors in Church and State; that the purest 
system of morals ever before preached to man, has been adulterated 
and sophisticated by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance 
to filch wealth and power to themselves; that rational men not 
being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them 
down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while 
themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real 
doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute the real Anti-Christ."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Samuel Kerchreview, January 19, 1810

"The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are 
those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted 
them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, 
and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come 
when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father 
in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation 
of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the 
dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away 
with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive 
and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823

One Man One Vote
Equal representation is so fundamental a principal in a true 
republic that no prejudice can justify its violation because 
the prejudices themselves cannot be justified.
Thomas Jeffersom, 1819
Source:The Supreme Court in American History pp162

Monuments of the safety with which errors of 
opinion may be tolerated where reason is left 
free to combat it.
- in his first inaugural address

"Men by their constitutions are naturally divided 
into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust 
the people, and wish to draw all powers from them 
into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who 
identify themselves with the people, have confidence 
in them, cherish and consider them as the most 
honest and safe, although not the most wise 
depositary of the public interests. In every country 
these two parties exist, and in every one where they 
are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare 
themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, 
Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans 
and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by 
whatever name you please, they are the same 
parties still and pursue the same object. The last 
one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one 
expressing the essence of all." 
Thomas Jefferson

In every free and deliberating society, there must, 
from the nature of man, be opposite parties, and 
violent dissensions and discords; and one of these, 
for the most part, must prevail over the other for a 
longer or shorter time." 
Thomas Jefferson

Were parties here divided merely by a greediness for 
office, as in England, to take part with either would 
be unworthy of a reasonable or moral man.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to Willian Giles, 12-31-1779

"The patriot, like the Christian, must learn to bear revilings and persecutions 
as a part of his duty; and in proportion as the trial is severe, firmness under 
it becomes more requisite and praiseworthy. It requires, indeed, 
self-command. But that will be fortified in proportion as the calls for its 
exercise are repeated."
Thomas Jefferson

"And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the 
government or information to the people. This last is the most legitimate 
engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of people. Enable them 
to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will 
preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince 
them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our 
-- Thomas Jefferson
US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source: Letter to James Madison, Paris, December 20, 1787. The Political Writings 
Of Thomas Jefferson 68 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955)

Agriculture, manufacturers, commerce, and navigation, 
the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving 
when left most free to individual enterprise.   
Thomas Jefferson

Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of 
science, by rendering them my supreme delight. 
But the enormities of the times in which I have 
lived have forced me to commit myself on the 
boisterous ocean of political passions.   
Thomas Jefferson

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Thomas Jefferson

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of 
the society but the people themselves; and if we think 
them not enlightened enough to exercise their control 
with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take 
it from them, but to inform their discretion.   
Thomas Jefferson

In questions of power, then, let no more be said of 
confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief 
by the chains of the Constitution. 
Thomas Jefferson

"Experience hath shewn,
that even under the best forms [of government]
those entrusted with power have, in time,
and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
Thomas Jefferson

"An honest man can feel no pleasure
in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813

Press Truths
Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some such way as this. Divide his paper 
into 4 chapters, heading the 1st, Truths. 2d, Probabilities. 3d, Possibilities. 4th, Lies. 
The first chapter would be very short, as it would contain little more than authentic 
papers, and information from such sources as the editor would be willing to risk his own 
reputation for their truth. The 2d would contain what, from a mature consideration of all 
circumstances, his judgment should conclude to be probably true. This, however, should 
rather contain too little than too much. The 3d & 4th should be professedly for those 
readers who would rather have lies for their money than the blank paper they 
would occupy.
Thomas Jefferson 
Source:Letter to John Norvell, June 11, 1807

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on 
in a newspaper.   
Thomas Jefferson

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in the 
newpaper. Truth itself become suspicious by being 
put into that polluted vehicle.
Thomas Jefferson

The basis of our government being the opinion of the 
people, the very first object should be to keep that right; 
and were it left to me to decide whether we should 
have a government without newspapers, or newspapers 
without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment 
to prefer the latter.  
Thomas Jefferson

Public Trust
"When a man assumes a public trust,
he should consider himself as public property." 
Thomas Jefferson

Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will 
they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, 
lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance 
without character is the path of destruction.   
Thomas Jefferson

"I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books,
my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and
letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most
splendid post, which any human power can give."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Alexander Donald, February 7, 1788

"If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union 
or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as 
monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be 
tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."
Thomas Jefferson

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain 
occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.
It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to 
be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Abigail Adams, February 22, 1787; reproduced in 
Thomas Jefferson, Writings (The Library of America, 1984), p. 889-890

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, 
and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. 
Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the 
encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. 
An observation of this truth should render honest republican 
governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to 
discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the 
sound health of the government."
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to James Madison, Jan 30, 1787

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: November 13, 1787, letter to William S. Smith, quoted in 
Padover's Jefferson On Democracy

"I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive. It 
places the governors indeed more at their ease at the expense of the people. 
The late rebellion in Massachusetts has given much more alarm than I think it 
should have done. Calculate that one rebellion in thirteen States in the course 
of eleven years is but one for each State in a century and a half. No country 
should be so long without one. Nor will any degree of power in the hands of the 
government prevent insurrections. In England, where the hand of power is 
heavier than with us, there are seldom half a dozen years without an 
insurrection. In France, where it is still heavier but less despotic, as 
Montesquieu supposes, than in some other countries and where there are always 
two or three hundred thousand men ready to crush insurrections, there have been 
three in the course of the three years I have been here, in every one of which 
greater numbers were engaged than in Massachusetts."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Source: Letter to James Madison, Paris, December 20, 1787. 
The Political Writings Of Thomas Jefferson 67-68 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955)

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; 
because, if there be one, he must more approve of 
the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.
Do not be frightened from this inquiry from any fear 
of its consequences. If it ends in the belief that 
there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue
in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its 
Thomas Jefferson
Source: 1787 letter to his nephew

The legitimate powers of government extend to such 
acts as are only injurious to others. But it does me 
no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, 
or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. 
Thomas Jefferson

Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious 
opinions, any more than our opinions in physics 
or geometry.   
Thomas Jefferson

I do not find in orthodox Christianity one 
redeeming feature. 
Thomas Jefferson

In every country and every age, the priest has 
been hostile to Liberty.   
Thomas Jefferson

"The hocus-pocus phantasy of a God, like another Cerberus, 
with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in 
the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." 
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Jefferson s Works, Vol. IV, 360, Randolph's ed. 

"[The clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to 
me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their 
schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the 
altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny 
over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from 
me: and enough, too, in their opinion." 
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to Benjamin Rush, 1800. 

"Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, 
and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have 
been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not 
advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the 
effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and 
the other half hypocrites." 
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Notes on the State of Virginia 

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every 
fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence 
of a god; because, if there be one, he must approve the homage 
of reason rather than of blind-folded fear. Do not be 
frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences.... 
If it end in a belief that there is no god, you will find 
incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel 
in its exercise and in the love of others it will 
procure for you." 
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to Peter Carr, 10 Aug. 1787. 
(original capitalization of "god" retained) 

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden 
people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the 
lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as 
religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own 
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813 

No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the 
reputation which carries him into it.   
Thomas Jefferson

"What country can preserve its liberties,
if its rulers are not warned from time to time that
this people preserve the spirit of resistance?
Let them take arms."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: in a letter to William S. Smith, 13 November 1787

"It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position 
in the several States, that the purposes of society do not require 
a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors; that 
there are certain portions of right not necessary to enable them 
to carry on an effective government, and which experience has 
nevertheless proved they will be constantly encroaching on, if 
submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which 
experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against wrong, 
and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers 
have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first 
kind, for instance, is freedom of religion; of the second, 
trial by jury, habeas corpus laws, free presses."
Thomas Jefferson

[Our] principles [are] founded on the immovable basis 
of equal right and reason.
Thomas Jefferson

Man [is] a rational animal, endowed by nature with 
rights and with an innate sense of justice.
Thomas Jefferson

A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the 
laws of nature, and not as the gift of their 
chief magistrate." 
Thomas Jefferson

Nothing... is unchangeable but the inherent and 
unalienable rights of man." 
Thomas Jefferson

Sedition Law
"I discharge every person under punishment or prosecution
under the Sedition Law, because I considered, and now 
consider, that law to be a nullity as absolute and 
palpable as if Congress had ordered us to fall down and 
worship a golden image."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Letter to Abigail Adams, 22 July 1804

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 
are created equal, that they are endowed by their 
Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among 
these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Thomas Jefferson

The greatest service which can be rendered any 
country is to add a useful plant to its culture.   
Thomas Jefferson

I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple. 
Were we directed from Washington when to sow, 
when to reap, we should soon want bread.   
Thomas Jefferson

Super Majority
"It would not be for the public good to have [a majority 
in Congress of one party] greater [than] two to one." 
Thomas Jefferson

Supreme Court
"You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of 
all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, 
and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. 
Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, 
with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the 
privilege of their corps.... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they 
are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries 
are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such 
single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the 
corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. 
It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign 
within themselves."
Thomas Jefferson
US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Jarvis 
(September 28, 1820).

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he 
disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.   
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Virginia Statutes of Religious Freedom, 1779

To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of 
the United States, that is to say, 'to lay taxes for 
the purpose of providing for the general welfare.' 
For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general
welfare the purpose for which the power is to be 
exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for 
any purpose they please; but only to pay the
debts or provide for the welfare of the Union."
Thomas Jefferson
US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of 

"We are all doubtless bound to contribute a certain portion of our income to 
the support of charitable and other useful public institutions. But it is a 
part of our duty also to apply our contributions in the most effectual way we 
can to secure this object. The question then is whether this will not be better 
done by each of us appropriating our whole contribution to the institutions 
within our reach, under our own eye, and over which we can exercise some useful 
control? Or would it be better that each should divide the sum he can spare 
among all the institutions of his State or the United States? Reason and the 
interest of these institutions themselves, certainly decide in favor of the 
former practice."
-- Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.
The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories."
Thomas Jefferson

"And, finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself;
that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and
has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition
disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate,
errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them."
-- Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source: The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom, 1786

"The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them;
inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than he whose mind
is filled with falsehoods and errors."
Thomas Jefferson
Source: Letter to John Novell, June 11, 1807

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.
The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories."
Thomas Jefferson

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.   
Thomas Jefferson

Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and 
one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that 
harmony and affection without which liberty and even 
life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that 
having banished from our land that religious intolerance 
under which mankind so long bled, we have yet gained 
little if we counternance a political intolerance as 
despotic, as wicked, and capable of a bitter and 
bloody persecutions.   
Thomas Jefferson

War Of 1812
"Bonaparte hates our government because it is a living libel 
on his, and the English hate us because they think our
prosperity filched from theirs."
Thomas Jefferson
Source:James Madison, A Biography by Ralph Ketcham

A single zealot may commence persecutor, 
and better men be his victims.
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Notes on the State of Virginia

What Can I say?
This truely is one of the GREATEST men that has ever 
walked the face of the planet. Trying to build a Quote 
page of Jefferson is like building a Quote Page of 
the teachings of Jesus Christ in a sentence.  
Simply can't be done.
I can not do him justice here in my quote pages.  
Please hit the link aboveand go see a page  
that covers this great American better than 
I ever could.

Mail James Howington

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