October 8, 2010

Quotables: Thomas Jefferson

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. 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 blindfolded fear."


"As our enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also."

"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
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"Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society."

"Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

"I cannot live without books."

"Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading."


"Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any."


"An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed."


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


"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."


"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition."


"One man with courage is a majority."

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

"Be polite to all, but intimate with few."

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."

"It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read."

"It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good."

"How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened."

"I find that he is happiest of whom the world says least, good or bad."

"The general of today should be a soldier tomorrow if necessary."

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


"Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state... For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security."


"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."


"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time."

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."

"The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave."

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


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


"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."


"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."


"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."


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


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


"No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will."

"When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property."

"I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless office."

"Politics is such a torment that I advise everyone I love not to mix with it."

"Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man."


"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."



- Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, , and President of the U.S. (1801-1809)

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