"Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [i.e., securing inherent and inalienable rights, with powers derived from the consent of the governed], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:315
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere." --Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787.
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion... We have had thirteen States independent for eleven years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half, for each State. What country before ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion?" --Thomas Jefferson to William S. Smith, 1787. ME 6:372
"[Bear] always in mind that a nation ceases to be republican only when the will of the majority ceases to be the law." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to the Citizens of Adams County, Pa., 1808. ME 12:18
"If once [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:58
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. -- --Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787. ME 6:373, Papers 12:356
"Who will govern the governors?" There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government.
"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. ME 14:491
The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite. --Thomas Jefferson