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Favorite Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Updated on December 7, 2015
The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA
The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA | Source

Thomas Jefferson is widely revered as the main author of the Declaration of Independence in the US. He served in the Continental Congress and was instrumental in winning the Revolutionary War against the British, thus allowing the United States to become a unified country.

Jefferson was key to the Louisiana Purchase which brought 828,000 square miles of land, then owned by the French, into American hands. In addition, Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the western US, then little known or explored.

He was a wealthy tobacco planter who used hundreds of slaves over his lifetime.

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

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Jefferson understood his wealth depended on his slaves, and many times felt between a rock and a hard place about it. There seems to be some truth to the fact that after his wife died, he fathered six children with one of his slaves. These children were freed when they came of age.

Thomas Jefferson was extremely active in the new America. He was the 3rd President of the United States; 2nd Vice President of the US; 1st US Secretary of State; US Ambassador to France; Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (Virginia); 2nd Governor of Virginia; Delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress (Virginia); and part of the Democratic-Republican party (you heard me right!)

Love him or hate him, you have to admit he had some pretty awesome quotes. I offer these quotes as what they are: testaments to liberty and freedom for all. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned--this is the sum of good government.

— Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 - July 4, 1826)
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 - July 4, 1826) | Source
  • "All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them."
  • "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 laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
  • "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

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 and to institute new government.

— Thomas Jefferson
Source
  • "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."
  • "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
  • "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else.

— Thomas Jefferson
Source
  • "Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the Author."
  • "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
  • "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
  • "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
  • "I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master."

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist invasions of it in the case of others.

— Thomas Jefferson

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    • krosch profile image

      krosch 5 years ago

      My favorite President and I think many good points could be made for him being one of the greatest presidents in U.S. History. He is one of the few truly libertarian ideal presidents we have ever had. Ironically however as many of the early presidents were, he was responsible for vastly expanding the power of the President and government in general.

      Though many goods did some of some of those things they did clash a bit in his mind over whether they were the right course of action. The Louisiana Purchase being one of the choices that most troubled him. Since he wasn't sure he really had the power, or the federal government for that matter, to actually buy all that land. It is very good that he did I think however.

      Nice hub, Voted up and interesting.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      This is an excellent piece. Too bad these concepts are not read and adhered to by modern day politicians. I will attach this one to my articles on equality for everyone if you have no objections. And enjoyable read. Thanks.

    • Faceless39 profile image
      Author

      Faceless39 5 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Hi d.william, I definitely agree that these concepts fell by the wayside a long time ago. Of course, wise men like Jefferson knew this was human nature, and tried to warn us what was coming. Too bad we haven't listened (so far.) Absolutely share this or anything else with anyone. Thank YOU!

    • MissDoolittle profile image

      MissDoolittle 4 years ago from Sussex, UK

      I love Thomas Jefferson and his quotes, he was a wise man indeed. My favourite quote is the one about keeping arms to protect one self - this couldn't be more true in certain countries these days.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 19 months ago from Long Island, NY

      It's interesting to read these quotes of Thomas Jefferson and realizing that many of his views are not followed by our government today, even though the U.S. Constitution includes much of it.

    • Faceless39 profile image
      Author

      Faceless39 19 months ago from The North Woods, USA

      Hi Glenn Stok, thanks for reading and commenting. It's completely true: the US Constitution has been flushed down the drain over the past 50 years or so. It seems to be exponentially disintegrating with each new President. I predict a continuation of this in the years to come, unfortunately..

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