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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

The Declaration of Independence... [is the] declaratory charter of our rights, and the rights of man.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Adams Wells, May 12, 1821

Founding Fathers Quotes

The duty of an upright administration is to pursue its course steadily, to know nothing of these family dissentions, and to cherish the good principles of both parties.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, 1805

Founding Fathers Quotes

The example of changing a constitution by assembling the wise men of the state, instead of assembling armies, will be worth as much to the world as the former examples we had give them. The constitution, too, which was the result of our deliberation, is unquestionably the wisest ever yet presented to men.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to David Humphreys, March 18, 1789

Founding Fathers Quotes

The foundation on which all [constitutions] are built is the natural equality of man, the denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, and particularly the denial of a preeminence by birth.

Thomas Jefferson, April 16, 1784

Founding Fathers Quotes

The freedom and happiness of man...[are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, Aug 18, 1821

Founding Fathers Quotes

The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

Thomas Jefferson, Summary View of the Rights of British America, August 1774

Founding Fathers Quotes

The good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with the given fulcrum, moves the world.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to M. Correa, December 27, 1814

Founding Fathers Quotes

The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Mar 9, 1821

Founding Fathers Quotes

The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one people.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Dickinson, July 23, 1801

Founding Fathers Quotes

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the bosom of my family.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Willis Jr., April 18, 1790

Founding Fathers Quotes

The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Ritchie, December 25, 1820

Founding Fathers Quotes

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1782

Founding Fathers Quotes

The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of these people, and it is a moral reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Coles, August 25, 1814

Founding Fathers Quotes

The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.

Thomas Jefferson, Note in Destutt de Tracy, 1816

Founding Fathers Quotes

The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, March 9, 1821

Founding Fathers Quotes

The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most — for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government?

Thomas Jefferson, October 28, 1813

Founding Fathers Quotes

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, May 27, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

Founding Fathers Quotes

The principle of the Constitution is that of a separation of legislative, Executive and Judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct terms, it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and acted on by every friend of free government.

Thomas Jefferson, January, 1797



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