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Quotes of Thomas Jefferson

 

 

"We fight not for glory or for conquest. We exhibit to mankind the remarkable specticle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies, without any imputation or even suspicion of offense. They boast of their priviledges and civilization, and yet proffer no milder condition than servitude or death.

In our native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birthright and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it; for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our forefathers and ourselves; against violence actually offered; we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when all hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before."

-Declaration of Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (July 6, 1775)

"The merchant has no country . "

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine ."

"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management."

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."

"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."

"If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

"Still one thing more, fellow citizens - 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 ." --Thomas Jefferson's 1st inagural address in 1801

“It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression, ... that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow,) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.”

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will... become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated."

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”

"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 proves a deliberate systematic plan of reducing us to slavery."

"Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!"

"The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."

"The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it."

"None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important."

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but the newspapers.”

"A society that will trade a little order for a little freedom will lose both, and deserve neither."

"The tree of liberty, from time to time, must be replenished with the blood of patriots."

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

" If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."  

"Were we to be directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread."

"I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive ."

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, the banks and the corporations that will grow around them will deprive the people of all their property, first by inflation and then by deflation, until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justistice cannot sleep forever."

"I swear upon the altar of God, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

"On every question of construction [of the Constitution,] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823

“Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.”

 

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