Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
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Thomas Jefferson Quotes

They Said It
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
- Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, as revised by Congress, 4 July 1776

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
- Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, 23 September 1800

"Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. . . . would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern."
- Jefferson's First Inaugural, 4 March 1801

"All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. The palpable truth, that 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. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."
- Jefferson to Roger Weightman, 24 June 1826

- Jefferson's epitaph, composed by Jefferson himself. You can see it, and a picture of his tombstone, here.

"I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living. . . . We seem not to perceive that, by the law of nature, one generation is to another as one independent nation is to another. . . . The earth belongs always to the living generations."
- Jefferson to Madison, 6 September 1789

"To make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and keep us distinct in Domestic ones gives the outline of the proper division of powers between the general [national] and particular [state] governments."
- Jefferson to Madison, 16 December 1786

"I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government enjoy in their gen'l mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under European governments."
- Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 16 January 1787

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. . . .I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."
- Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 22 February 1787

"If the happiness of the mass of the people can be secured at the expense of a little tempest now and then or even a little blood, it will be a precious purchase."
- Jefferson to Ezra Stiles, 24 December 1786

"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."
- Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 13 November 1787

"I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever. . . . Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."
- Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, 13 March 1789

"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc 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. [That age though] was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading."
- Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 12 July 1816

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