Thomas Jefferson, 1743 - 1826
Oil portrait by Rembrandt Peale (1805)
Born: 13 April 1743, Shadwell, Virginia
Died: 4 July 1826, Charlottesville, Virginia
By far my favorite among the founding fathers, Jefferson is also one of my favorite authors of quotes. He distinguished himself as a horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, and inventor. He was ambassador to France under the Articles of Confederation, Secretary of State under George Washington, vice president under John Adams, and the third president of the United States. Jefferson trivia could go on for pages, I particularly enjoyed learning that he is the only two-term US president to never veto an act of Congress.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Thomas Jefferson quotes:
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- A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sin and suffering. permalink
- A letter from you calls up recollections very dear to my mind. It carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us and yet passing harmless under our bark we knew not how, we rode through the storm with heart and hand, amd made a happy port. permalink
letter to John Adams (21 January 1812)
- A library book ... is not, then, an article of mere consumption, but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, is their only capital. permalink
- A lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divinity, that ever were written. permalink
Letter to Robert Skipwith (3 August 1771)
- A man has a right to use a saw, an axe, a plane, separately; may he not combine their uses on the same piece of wood? He has a right to use his knife to cut his meat, a fork to hold it; may a patentee take from him the right to combine their use on the same subject? Such a law, instead of enlarging our conveniences, as was intended, would most fearfully abridge them, and crowd us by monopolies out of the use of the things we have. permalink
Letter to Oliver Evans, (16 January 1814)
- A republic will avoid war unless the avoidance might create conditions that are worse than warfare itself. Sometimes, the dispositions of those who choose to make themselves our enemies leaves us no choice. permalink
- A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of hither obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means. permalink
- A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own persuits 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. permalink
- A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which 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. permalink
First Inaugural Address (4 March 1801)
- Above all things, lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, &c. Consider every act of this kind, as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties and increase your worth. permalink
Letter to Peter Carr (10 August 1787)
- 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. permalink
letter declining to come to Washington City for 50th anniversary of Declaration of Independence (1826)
- All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution. permalink
Draft Constitution for Virginia (June 1776).
- All, too, will 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 which would be oppression. permalink
First Inaugural Address (4 March 1801)
- All, too, will 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. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. permalink
first inaugural address (4 March 1801)
- Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. permalink
Letter to William Short (13 April 1820)
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