Sort by:PopularityA - Z
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.
Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.
We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.
Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.
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.
I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands clean as they are empty.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. That government is best which governs least.
My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair.
The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.
We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.
If 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.
The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
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.
Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are 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.
My views and feelings (are) in favor of the abolition of war--and I hope it is practicable, by improving the mind and morals of society, to lessen the disposition to war; but of its abolition I despair.
If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.
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.
Never enter into dispute or argument with another. I never yet saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many on their getting warm, becoming rude and shooting one another.
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.
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 walks.
But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.
I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise.
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are 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.
Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. 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 blindfolded fear.
The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man a soldier, and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible and the same remedy will make us so.
...Enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter - with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more... 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, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should to rest on inference.
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.
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.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign 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.
But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years.
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.
Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands. As long therefore as they can find emploiment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans, or any thing else. But our citizens will find emploiment in this line till their numbers, and of course their productions, become too great for the demand both internal and foreign.
Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason.
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.
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.
He [King George III] has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too.
I believe that justice is instinct and innate, the moral sense is as much a part of our constitution as the threat of feeling, seeing and hearing.
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.
I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.
I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.
I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.
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 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 government.
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.
I read no newspaper now but Ritchie's, and in that chiefly the advertisements, for they contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
I steer my bark with hope in the head, leaving fear astern. My hopes indeed sometimes fail, but not oftener than the forebodings of the gloomy.
It is part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate - to surmount every difficulty by resolution and contrivance.
It is unfortunate, that the efforts of mankind to recover the freedom of which they have been so long deprived, will be accompanied with violence, with errors, & even with crimes. But while we weep over the means, we must pray for the end.
Man is fed with fables through life, and leaves it in the belief he knows something of what has been passing, when in truth he has known nothing but what has passed under his own eye.
Never fear the want of business. A man who qualifies himself well for his calling, never fails of employment.
No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it...To myself, personally, it brings nothing but increasing drudgery and daily loss of friends.
Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.
Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.
Our friendships are precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life;and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part is sunshine.
Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.
Perfect happiness I believe was never intended by the deity to be the lot of any one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I as stedfastly believe.
Question with boldness even the existance of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. 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 blindfolded fear.
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.
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 wthout government, I should not hesita
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
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 today and a little tomorrow, and advancing it’s noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. ...when all government... in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.
The happiest moments of my life have a been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.
The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.
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.
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.
The superiority of chocolate (hot chocolate), both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain. . .
This institution will be based upon the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.
To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only. Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of it's benefits, than is done by it's abandoned prostitution to falsehood.
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 ar
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.
Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.
Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. The small landowners are the most precious part of a state.
Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you and act accordingly.
With respect to the new Government, nine or ten States will probably have accepted by the end of this month. The others may oppose it. Virginia, I think, will be of this number. Besides other objections of less moment, she [Virginia] will insist on annexing a bill of rights to the new Constitution, i.e. a bill wherein the Government shall declare that, 1. Religion shall be free; 2. Printing presses free; 3. Trials by jury preserved in all cases; 4. No monopolies in commerce; 5. No standing army. Upon receiving this bill of rights, she will probably depart from her other objections; and this bill is so much to the interest of all the States, that I presume they will offer it, and thus our Constitution be amended, and our Union closed by the end of the present year.
[I]f we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.
[N]othing can be more opposed [to American principles] than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greater number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogenous, incoherent, distracted mass.
Quotes from the news wire:
Share your thoughts on Thomas Jefferson's quotes with the community:
Would you like us to send you a FREE inspiring quote delivered to your inbox daily?
Use the citation below to add this author page to your bibliography:
"Thomas Jefferson Quotes." Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 24 May 2022. <https://www.quotes.net/authors/Thomas+Jefferson+Quotes>.