Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Thomas Jefferson. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He had previously served as the second vice president of the United States under John Adams between 1797 and 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national levels.
During the American Revolution, Jefferson represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration of Independence. As a Virginia legislator, he drafted a state law for religious freedom. He served as the second Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, during the American Revolutionary War. In 1785, Jefferson was appointed the United States Minister to France, and subsequently, the nation's first Secretary of State under President George Washington from 1790 to 1793. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. With Madison, he anonymously wrote the provocative Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 and 1799, which sought to strengthen states' rights by nullifying the federal Alien and Sedition Acts.
As president, Jefferson pursued the nation's shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies. Starting in 1803, Jefferson promoted a western expansionist policy, organizing the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the nation's land area. To make room for settlement, Jefferson began a controversial process of Indian tribal removal from the newly acquired territory. As a result of peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. Jefferson was reelected in 1804. His second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the trial of former vice president Aaron Burr. In 1807, American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act in response to British threats to U.S. shipping. The same year, Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves.
Jefferson, while primarily a planter, lawyer and politician, mastered many disciplines, which ranged from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was an architect in the classical tradition. Jefferson's keen interest in religion and philosophy led to his presidency of the American Philosophical Society; he shunned organized religion but was influenced by Christianity, Epicureanism, and deism. A philologist, Jefferson knew several languages. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent people, including Edward Carrington, John Taylor of Caroline and James Madison. Among his books is Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), considered perhaps the most important American book published before 1800. Jefferson championed the ideals, values, and teachings of the Enlightenment.
During his lifetime, Jefferson claimed ownership of over 600 slaves, who were kept in his household and on his plantations. Since Jefferson's time, controversy has revolved around his relationship with Sally Hemings, a mixed-race enslaved woman and his late wife's half-sister. According to DNA evidence from surviving descendants and oral history, Jefferson probably fathered at least six children with Hemings, including four that survived to adulthood. Evidence suggests that Jefferson started the relationship with Hemings when they were in Paris, where she arrived at the age of 14, when Jefferson was 44. By the time she returned to the United States at 16, she was pregnant.\n\nAfter retiring from public office, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Jefferson and his colleague John Adams both died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Presidential scholars and historians generally praise Jefferson's public achievements, including his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia. Although some modern scholars have been critical of his stance on slavery, Jefferson continues to rank highly among the top ten U.S. presidents.
Never trouble another for what you can do for yourself.
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.
Happiness is the aim of life. Virtue is the foundation of happiness. Utility is the test of virtue. If the wise be the happy man, as the sages say, he must be virtuous too; for without virtue, happiness cannot be.
Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.
I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.
The constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.
Paper is poverty. It is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.
We often repent of what we have said, but never, never, of that which we have not.
Even if we differ in principle more than I believe we do, you and I know too well the texture of the human mind, and the slipperiness of human reason, to consider differences of opinion otherwise than differences of form or feature.
It is more honorable to repair a wrong than to persist in it.
Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself.
Agriculture, manufactures, commerce and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.
Coffee, the favorite drink of the civilized world.
Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.
A pirate spreading misery and ruin over the face of the ocean.
Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must.
A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high virtues 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 higher obligation.
A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the highest virtues 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 higher 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.
Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.
The ground I have already passed over enables me to see my way into that which is before me.
If you have to eat crow, eat it while it's young and tender.
Our ancestors, possessed a right, which nature has given to all men, of departing from the country in which chance, not choice has placed them.
Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.
A government big enough to give you everything you need is government big enough to take away everything you have.
All men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights...namely the enjoyment of life and liberty...and pursuing and obtaining happiness.
Information is the currency of democracy.
Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.
The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few to ride them.
The earth belongs always to the living generation.
The best principles of our republic secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights.
Although a republican government is slow to move, yet when once in motion, its momentum becomes irresistible.
We are now trusting to those who are against us in position and principle, to fashion to their own form the minds and affections of our youth... This canker is eating on the vitals of our existence, and if not arrested at once, will be beyond remedy.
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.
We must be contented to amuse, when we cannot inform.
Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.
Doubts and jealousies often beget the facts they fear.
If the obstacles of bigotry and priestcraft can be surmounted, we may hope that common sense will suffice to do everything else.
Every gentleman plays billiards, but someone who plays billiards too well, is no gentleman.
I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty.
Common sense is the foundation of all authorities, of the laws themselves, and of their construction.
No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.
The last hope of human liberty in this world rests on us. we ought, for so dear a stake, to sacrifice every attachment and every enmity.
And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and libraries of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them.
And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and liberties of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. In short, the flames kindled on 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.
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.
Self-interest, or rather self-love, or egoism, has been more plausibly substituted as the basis of morality.
Every man cannot have his way in all things. If his opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at other times. Without this mutual disposition we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.
The best defense of democracy is an informed electorate.
If it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.
The execution of the laws is more important than the making of them.
We are sensible of the duty and expediency of submitting our opinions to the will of the majority, and can wait with patience till they get right if they happen to be at any time wrong.
Let those flatter who fear; it is not an American art .
The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep he waters pure.
If I had to choose between government and a free press, I would choose a free press.
The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.
The art of governing consists simply of being honest, exercising common sense, following principle, and doing what is right and just.
The elective franchise, if guarded as the ark of our safety, will peaceably dissipate all combinations to subvert a Constitution, dictated by the wisdom, and resting on the will of the people.
Life is of no value but as it brings gratifications. among the most valuable of these is rational society. it informs the mind, sweetens the temper, chears our spirits, and promotes health.
I see the necessity of sacrificing our opinions sometimes to the opinions of others for the sake of harmony.
The sentiments of men are known not only by what they receive, but what they reject also.
History has informed us that bodies of men as well as individuals are susceptible of the spirit of tyranny.
Let the farmer forevermore be honored in his calling; for they who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.
Anarchy is necessarily consequent to inefficiency.
It seems that the Cannibals of Europe are going to eat one another again. A war between Russia and Turkey is like the battle of the kite and snake; whichever destroys the other, leaves a destroyer the less for the world.
I have now the gloomy prospect of retiring from office loaded with serious debts, which will materially affect the tranquility of my retirement.
Our Constitution... has not left the religion of its citizens under the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose.
Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them.
It is my principle that the will of the majority should always prevail.
A lottery is a salutary instrument and a tax... laid on the willing only, that is to say, on those who can risk the price of a ticket without sensible injury, for the possibility of a higher prize.
Knowledge indeed is a desirable, a lovely possession.
The moral sense is as much a part of our constitution as that of feeling, seeing, or hearing.
We should talk over the lessons of the day, or lose them in Music, Chess, or the merriments of our family companions.
I have overlived the generation with which mutual labors and perils begat mutual confidence and influence.
Nothing but good can result from an exchange of information and opinions between those whose circumstances and morals admit no doubt of the integrity of their views.
An individual, thinking himself injured, makes more noise than a State.
I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest system of morality that has ever been taught but I hold in the most profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invented.
I pledge undying hostility to any government restrictions on the free minds of the people.
Revenue on the consumption of foreign articles is paid cheerfully by those who can afford to add foreign luxuries to domestic comforts.
Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.
So much of the presidency is a matter of standing in the path of a Newsham Engine for Quenching Fires, opening one's mouth, and attempting to get a drink.
When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.
Still less, let it be proposed that our properties within our own territories shall be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own. The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings.
I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise.
It is an encouraging observation that no good measure was ever proposed which, if duly pursued, failed to prevail in the end.
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.
When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground.
When sins are dear to us we are too prone to slide into them again. The act of repentance itself is often sweetened with the thought that it clears our account for a repetition of the same sin.
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.
In the middle ages of Christianity opposition to the State opinions was hushed. The consequence was, Christianity became loaded with all the Romish follies. Nothing but free argument, raillery and even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion.
The human character, we believe, requires in general constant and immediate control to prevent its being biased from right by the seductions of self-love.
I have so much confidence in the good sense of man, and his qualifications for self-government, that I am never afraid of the issue where reason is left free to exert her force.
Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government.
The present generation has the same right of self-government which the past one has exercised for itself.