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Top 50 Best Inspiring Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Thomas Jefferson painting

Thomas Jefferson Quotes: Thomas Jefferson 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.

Common Asked Questions Thomas Jefferson

Why Thomas Jefferson is the best president?

As the third president of the United States, Jefferson stabilized the U.S. economy and defeated pirates from North Africa during the Barbary War. He was responsible for doubling the size of the United States by successfully brokering the Louisiana Purchase. He also founded the University of Virginia.

Did Jefferson own slaves?

Jefferson acquired most of the over six hundred people he owned during his life through the natural increase of enslaved families. He acquired approximately 175 enslaved people through inheritance: about 40 from the estate of his father, Peter Jefferson, in 1764, and 135 from his father-in-law, John Wayles, in 1774.

Our Favorite Thomas Jefferson Quotes

“If you want something you've never had You must be willing to do something you've never done.”

“Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”

“. . . 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.”

“I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.”

“Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

“Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”

“Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.”

“I am increasingly persuaded that the earth belongs exclusively to the living and that one generation has no more right to bind another to it's laws and judgments than one independent nation has the right to command another.”

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

“How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”

“I cannot live without books.”

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“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

“Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

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

“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

“I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...”

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

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.”

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

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”

“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 by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding...

“...it is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus] in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist, he takes the side of spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin. I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it... Among the sayings & discourses imputed to him 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 th

“As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.

“Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, &c. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent.”

“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.”

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”

“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government...”

“I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more."

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”

“The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”

“The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”

“It is an axiom in my mind, that our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves, and that too of the people with a certain degree of instruction. This it is the business of the State to effect, and on a general plan.”

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life; & thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine. I will recur for proof to the days we have lately passed. On these indeed the sun shone brightly.”

“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.”

“All should be laid open to you without reserve, for there is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.”

“The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”

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