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Thomas Jefferson Quotations

These Thomas Jefferson Quotations give a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest leaders from the founding period of the United States. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, served in the Continental Congress and eventually became President of the United States. These Thomas Jefferson Quotations cover the year 1814 and include letters to various Revolutionary War era figures such as Charles Thomson and John Adams. These quotes show his anti-slavery stance, his love of books, his disdain for double taxation and the government spending today but expecting the next generation to pay for it! These Thomas Jefferson Quotations are listed chronologically and there are links to more before and after this period at the bottom of the page.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson Quotations

"A man has a right to use a saw, an axe, a plane, separately; may he not combine their uses on the same piece of wood? He has a right to use his knife to cut his meat, a fork to hold it; may a patentee take from him the right to combine their use on the same subject? Such a law, instead of enlarging our conveniences, as was intended, would most fearfully abridge them, and crowd us by monopolies out of the use of the things we have." - Letter to Oliver Evans, January 16, 1814

"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains." - Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

"The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw in the mysticism of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system, which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child ; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them; and for this obvious reason, that nonsense can never be explained." - Letter to John Adams, July 5, 1814

"I had always hoped that the younger generation receiving their early impressions after the flame of liberty had been kindled in every breast... would have sympathized with oppression wherever found, and proved their love of liberty beyond their own share of it." - Letter to Edward Coles, August 25, 1814

"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." - Letter to Edward Coles, August 25, 1814

"Botany I rank with the most valuable sciences, whether we consider its subjects as furnishing the principal subsistence of life to man and beast, delicious varieties for our tables, refreshments from our orchards, the adornments of our flower borders, shade and perfume of our groves, materials for our buildings, or medicaments for our bodies." - Letter to Thomas Cooper, October 7, 1814

"Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our god alone. I enquire after no man's and trouble none with mine; nor is it given to us in this life to know whether yours or mine, our friend's or our foe's, are exactly the right." - Letter to Miles King, September 26, 1814

"Nay, we have heard it said that there Is not a Quaker or a Baptist, a Presbyterian or an Episcopalian, a Catholic or a Protestant In heaven; that, on entering that gate, we leave those badges of schism behind, and find ourselves united in those principles only In which God has united us all. Let us not be uneasy then, about the different roads we may pursue,as believing them the shortest, to that our last abode: but, following the guidance of a good conscience, let us be happy In the hope that by these different paths we shall all meet in the end. And that you and I may there meet and embrace, is my earnest prayer. And with this assurance I salute you with brotherly esteem and respect." - Letter to Miles King, September 26, 1814

"The good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with the given fulcrum, moves the world." - Letter to M. Correa, December 27, 1814

Read on for more
Thomas Jefferson Quotations

"The particular subject of the pamphlet (against slavery) you enclosed me was one of early and tender consideration with me, and had I continued in the councils of my own State, it should never have been out of sight. The only practicable plan I could ever devise is stated under the 14th Query of my Notes on Virginia, and it is still the one most sound in my judgment... Some progress is sensibly made in it; yet not so much as I had hoped and expected. But it will yield in time to temperate and steady pursuit, to the enlargement of the human mind, and its advancement in science. We are not in a world ungoverned by the laws and the power of a superior agent. Our efforts are in His hand and directed by it; and He will give them their effect in His own time. Where the disease is most deeply seated, there it will be slowest in eradication. In the northern States, it was merely superficial and easily corrected. In the southern, it is incorporated with the whole system and req uires time, patience, and perseverance in the curative process. That it may finally be effected and its progress hastened will be the last and fondest prayer of him who now salutes you with respect and consideration." - Letter to David Barrow, May 1, 1815

Monticello - Home of Thomas Jefferson
Monticello - Home of
Thomas Jefferson
"I cannot live without books." - Letter to John Adams, June 10, 1815

"The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, from the jargon of Plato, of Aristotle & other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime preacher of the sermon on the mount." - Letter to Benjamin Waterhouse, October 13, 1815

"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." - Letter to Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Letter to Col. Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816

"This keeps me at the drudgery of the writing-table all the prime hours of the day, leaving for the gratification of my appetite for reading, only what I can steal from the hours of sleep. Could I reduce this epistolary corvée within the limits of my friends and affairs, and give the time redeemed from it to reading and reflection, to history, ethics, mathematics, my life would be as happy as the infirmities of age would admit." - Letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

"I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature." - Letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

More Thomas Jefferson Quotations for you!

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." - Letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

"For example. If the system be established on basis of Income, and his just proportion on that scale has been already drawn from every one, to step into the field of Consumption, and tax special articles in that, as broadcloth or homespun, wine or whiskey, a coach or a wagon, is doubly taxing the same article. For that portion of Income with which these articles are purchased, having already paid its tax as Income, to pay another tax on the thing it purchased, is paying twice for the same thing; it is an aggrievance on the citizens who use these articles in exoneration of those who do not, contrary to the most sacred of the duties of a government, to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens." - Letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day." - Letter to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 1816

"The system of banking we have both equally and ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption, and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of our citizens. Funding I consider as limited, rightfully, to a redemption of the debt within the lives of a majority of the generation contracting it; every generation coming equally, by the laws of the Creator of the world, to the free possession of the earth he made for their subsistence, unincumbered by their predecessors, who, like them, were but tenants for life." - Letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

"We may say with truth and meaning that governments are more or less republican, as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition; and believing, as I do, that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially, that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient. And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." - Letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

A few more Thomas Jefferson Quotations

"If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require." - Letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

"Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights... and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him... and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right." - Letter to Francis W. Gilmer, June 27, 1816

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds... (we will) have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers... And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for another... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression." - Letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared." - Letter to William Plumer, July 21, 1816

"We shall have our follies without doubt. Some one or more of them will always be afloat. But ours will be the follies of enthusiasm, not of bigotry, not of Jesuitism. Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both." - Letter to John Adams, August 1, 1816

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Did you enjoy these Thomas Jefferson Quotations? Check out these inspirational quotations from some other Founding Fathers




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