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Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Here are quotes by one of America's greatest founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, and related quotations about America's founding. For more history, see Founding Fathers.

Founding Fathers Quotes

On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 12, 1782

Founding Fathers Quotes

On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance.

Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814

Founding Fathers Quotes

One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.

Thomas Jefferson, June 19, 1796

Founding Fathers Quotes

One single object... [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Livingston, March 25, 1825

Founding Fathers Quotes

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, September 7, 1803

Founding Fathers Quotes

Our properties within our own territories [should not] be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own.

Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774

Founding Fathers Quotes

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

Founding Fathers Quotes

People generally have more feeling for canals and roads than education. However, I hope we can advance them with equal pace.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joel Barlow, December 10, 1807

Founding Fathers Quotes

Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed.

Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814

Founding Fathers Quotes

Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts...in which all religions agree.

Thomas Jefferson, Westmoreland County Petition, November 2, 1785

Founding Fathers Quotes

Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

Founding Fathers Quotes

Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reeactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Wayles Eppes, June 24, 1813

Founding Fathers Quotes

Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual.

Thomas Jefferson, 1784

Founding Fathers Quotes

That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.

Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774

Founding Fathers Quotes

The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Rush, October 20, 1820

Founding Fathers Quotes

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, March 31, 1809

Founding Fathers Quotes

The Constitution on which our Union rests, shall be administered by me [as President] according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption — a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it merely lest the construction should be applied which they denounced as possible.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mesrs. Eddy, Russel, Thurber, Wheaton and Smith, March 27, 1801

Founding Fathers Quotes

The Constitution... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, September 6, 1819

Founding Fathers Quotes

The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves in all cases to which they think themselves competent, or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 1824

Founding Fathers Quotes

The construction applied...to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate Congress a power...ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument.

Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798



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