Thomas Jefferson Quotes | Student Handouts
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Thomas Jefferson Quotes
Social Studies > United States Presidents > Thomas Jefferson > Thomas Jefferson Quotes
"The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object." Click here.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Click here.
"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." Click here.
"Never spend your money before you have it." Click here.
"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Click here.
I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.
Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
An injured friend is the bitterest of foes.
It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.
Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.  When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it.
I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.
Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.
Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.
History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.
Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind.
When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property.
It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.
Be polite to all, but intimate with few.
When angry count to ten before you speak.  If very angry, count to one hundred.
He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
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.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.  Our children see this, and learn to imitate it.
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.
I find that he is happiest of whom the world says least, good or bad.
The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.
We never repent of having eaten too little.
Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.
Books constitute capital.  A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years.  It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
Power is not alluring to pure minds.
I cannot live without books.
Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
He who knows best knows how little he knows.
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
Conquest is not in our principles.  It is inconsistent with our government.
Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.
I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless office.
Speeches that are measured by the hour will die with the hour.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.
One man with courage is a majority.
I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.
Money, not morality, is the principal commerce of civilized nations.
The way to silence religious disputes is to take no notice of them.
A strong body makes the mind strong.
Taste cannot be controlled by law.
For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.
A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.
The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.
Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism.
In every country in every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty.
Do you want to know who you are?  Don't ask.  Act!  Action will delineate and define you.
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 blind-folded fear.
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.
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.
Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
Delay is preferable to error.
In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it covers the natural want of it, and ends by rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue.
A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.
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.
To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.  The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
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.
The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.
The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.
It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.
It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape.
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
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