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Quotations from
Thomas Jefferson


b&w portrait of Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826]      Thomas Jefferson was one of the most important of the 'Founding Fathers' that led the American Revolution – from the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the U.S. Constitution of 1793 to serving as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809.

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connected with the revolutionary "Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment" created by G.E. Nordell.

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“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” [often attributed to Thomas Jefferson]
“The condition upon which God has given Liberty to Man is eternal vigilance."
— John Philpot Curran (July 10, 1790 speech)  {Issue #12}
•      •
“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish
like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”  {Issue #25}
•      •
“Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind,
for I can think of no milder term to apply to ... the general prey
of the rich on the poor.”  {Issue #16 & blog 1/2012}
•      •
“The flames kindled by the Fourth of July, 1776 have spread over too much of the globe
to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary,
they will consume these engines and all who work them.”  {Issue #34}
•      •
“I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.”  {Issue #35}
•      •
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of
patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”  {Issue #35}
•      •
“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine;
as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”  {Issue #36}
•      •
“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers.
To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”  {Issue #54}
•      •
“Put not your faith in men, but bind them down with the chains of the constitution.”
{in the Kentucky Resolutions 1798}  {Issue #57}
•      •
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”  {Issue #58}
•      •
“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.”
(in the ‘Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association’, January 1, 1802)  {Issue #58}
•      •
“The principle of spending money to be paid by future generations, under the name of funding,
is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”  {Issue #59}
•      •
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those
attending too small a degree of it.”  (1791)  {Issue #60}
•      •
“I hope [that] we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already
to challenge our government to a trial by strength and [to] bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
{Issue #62}
•      •
“To inform the minds of the people and to follow their will is the chief duty
of those placed at their head.”  {Issue #62}
•      •
“The tax which will be paid for education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid
to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up if we leave the people to ignorance.”  {Issue #62}
•      •
“Information is the currency of democracy."  {Issue #63 & 3/2013}
•      •
“In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty.”  {Issue #65}
•      •
“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.”  {blog 10/2007}
•      •
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”  {blog 11/2007}
•      •
“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.”  {blog 3/2008}
•      •
“We rarely repent of having eaten too little.”  {blog 4/2009}
•      •
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”  {blog 8/2009}
•      •
“Democracy is two wolves and a sheep, voting on what to eat for dinner;
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.”  {blog 10/2009}
•      •
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet devised by man, by which a government
can be held to the principles of its constitution.”  {blog 3/2011}
•      •
“The most truthful part of a newspaper is the advertisements.”  {blog 6/2012}
•      •
“One man with courage is a majority.”  {blog 11/2012}
•      •
“There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.”  {blog 12/2012}
•      •
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”  {blog 1/2013}
•      •
“Money, and not morality, is the principle of commercial nations.”  {blog 2/2014}
•      •
“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”  {blog 3/2014}
•      •
“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”  {blog 4/2014}
•      •
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  {blog 11/2014}
•      •
“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only
legitimate object of good government.”  {blog 5/2015}
•      •
“No country can be both ignorant and free.”  {blog 5/2015}
•      •
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.”  {blog 5/2015}
•      •
“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.”  {blog 9/2015}
•      •
“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 [world].”  {blog 4/2016}
•      •
“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”  {blog 5/2016}
•      •
“I cannot live without books.”  {blog 1/2017}

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
“I'm a great believer in luck and I find [that] the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
This quote and variations are often mis-attributed to Thomas Jefferson. But the Jefferson's Monticello website includes
a citation that no such quotation has ever been found in Jefferson's writings. While the statement could have been
verbal (by Jefferson), it is still more likely that attribution of the saying to F.L. Emerson, circa 1947, is most apt.

Jefferson Quotations Not Yet Used on the Blog

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions,
that I wish it to be always kept alive."

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits
of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor any bread it has earned
- this is the sum of good government."

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied 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."
"I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."

"Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know [that] there is no hook beneath it."

"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."

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."

"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness."

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government."

"The most successful war seldom pays for its losses."

"We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed."

"Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching."

"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe."

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