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Jefferson quotes

By Thomas Jefferson  Posted by martin weiss (about the submitter)     Permalink
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"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."
"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."
"I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way."
"Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism."
"No government can continue good but under the control of the people"
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as they are injurious to others."
"The most successful war seldom pays for its losses."
"The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force."
"We may add to the great honor of science and the arts, that their natural effect is, by illuminating public opinion, to erect it into a censor before which the most exalted tremble for their future as well as present fame"
"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution"
"There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class"
"Peace with all nations, and the rights which that gives us with respect to all nations, are our object"
"In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles;
"Experience declares that man is only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and the general prey of the rich on the poor"
"Power must never be trusted without a check"
"Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation (of power) first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence"
"Freedom of the person under the protection of habeas corpus. I deem one of the essential principles of our government."
"I had laid it down as a law for my conduct while in office, and hitherto scrupulously observed, to accept of no present beyond a book, a pamphlet, or other curiosity of minor value; as well to avoid imputation on my motives of action, as to shut out"
"The good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with the given fulcrum, moves the world."
"Morals were too essential to the happiness of man, to be risked on the uncertain combinations of the head. Nature laid their foundation, therefore, in sentiment, not in science."
"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery."
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
"A single good government is a blessing to the whole earth"
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."
"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."
"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness"
"None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army"
"This should be a man's attitude: 'Few things will disturb him at all; nothing will disturb him much"
"I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our Government to trial, and bid defiance to the laws of our country"
"It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of its benefits than is done by its abandoned prostitution to falsehood"
"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State."
"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good 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."
"If Americans ever allow banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless"
"I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom."
"Liberty is the great parent of science and of virtue; and a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free."
"The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it."
"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometric progression as they rise"
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."
"Governments are republican only in proportion as they employ the will of the people and execute it"
"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. 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."
"The flames kindled on the 4 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"
"They (preachers) dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live"
"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
"A free people claim their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their magistrate."
"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."
"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him."
"It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all."
"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 refuse, or rest on inferences"
"War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses."
"The tax which will be paid for the purpose of education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance"
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
"The order of nature is that individual happiness shall be inseparable from the practice of virtue."
"The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force."
"No government can continue good but under the control of the people"
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
"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."
"It is a misnomer to call a government republican in which a branch of the supreme power [the judiciary] is independent of the nation."
"Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health."
"The only purpose of government is to protect the people."
"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."

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