Thomas Jefferson

Thomas
Jefferson
1743
1826

American Statesman, President of the United States, Founding Father, Principal Author of the Declaration of Independence

Author Quotes

Whatever be their degree of talents, it is no measure of their rights.

When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous to the State, and calls for an exercise of the power of dissolution.

Whensoever hostile aggressions ... require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies.

With all the imperfections of our present government, it is without comparison the best existing, or that ever did exist.

You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.

Those who would trade safety for freedom deserve neither.

To preserve the freedom of the human mind and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think the condition of man will proceed in improvement. The generation which is going off the stage has deserved well of mankind for the struggles it has made, and for having arrested the course of despotism which had overwhelmed the world for thousands and thousands of years. If there seems to be danger that the ground they have gained will be lost again, that danger comes from the generation your contemporary. But that the enthusiasm which characterizes youth should lift its parricide hands against freedom and science would be such a monstrous phenomenon as I cannot place among possible things in this age and country.

Truth and reason are eternal. They have prevailed. And they will eternally prevail; however, in times and places they may be overborne for a while by violence, military, civil, or ecclesiastical.

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.

We exist, and are quoted, as standing proofs that a government, so modeled as to rest continually on the will of the whole society, is a practicable government.

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 oppression.

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace

When the subject is strong, simplicity is the only way to treat it.

Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.

With earnest prayers to all my friends to cherish mutual good will, to promote harmony and conciliation, and above all things to let the love of our country soar above all minor passions, I tender you the assurance of my affectionate esteem and respect.

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.

There is... an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents... The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent its ascendency.

Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable.

To secure these [inalienable] rights [to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed... Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on suchprinciples, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Truth between candid minds can never do harm.

We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. 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.

We have already given... one effectual check to the dog of war, by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body, from those who are to spend to those who are to pay.

We must train and classify the whole of our male citizens, and make military instruction a regular part of collegiate education. We can never be safe till this is done.

Author Picture
First Name
Thomas
Last Name
Jefferson
Birth Date
1743
Death Date
1826
Bio

American Statesman, President of the United States, Founding Father, Principal Author of the Declaration of Independence