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Thomas Jefferson Quotes

These Thomas Jefferson Quotes come from the last half of his second term as President and the years immediately afterwards, from 1806-1812. They are taken from his own personal letters and writings. These Thomas Jefferson Quotes come from personal correspondence with such people as Charles Willson Peale, the famous artist, Ceasar Rodney, Andrew Jackson and John Adams. They cover such topics as the Lewis and Clarke Expedition, his hope that slavery would be abolished and his hatred of newspapers. Thomas Jefferson was one of the great Founding Fathers of the United States. He wrote the Declaration of Independence, served as Ambassador to France, Secretary of State, Vice President and became the 3rd President of the United States. These Thomas Jefferson Quotes are listed chronologically with links to more from before and after this time period at the bottom.


Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson Quotes

"The expedition of Messrs. Lewis & Clarke for exploring the river Missouri, & the best communication from that to the Pacific ocean, has had all the success which could have been expected." - Sixth Annual Address, December 2, 1806

"Whensoever hostile aggressions... require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies." - Letter to Andrew Jackson, December 3, 1806

"Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle." - Letter to John Norvell, June 11, 1807

"Further trial of the Stylograph convinces me it can never take the place of the Polygraph but with travellers, as it is so much more portable. The fetid smell of the copying papers would render a room pestiferous, if filled with presses of such papers." - Letter to Charles Willson Peale, Poplar Forest, November 5, 1807

"People generally have more feeling for canals and roads than education. However, I hope we can advance them with equal pace." - Letter to Joel Barlow, December 10, 1807

"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted (prohibited) by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. - Letter to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808

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Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Monticello - Home of Thomas Jefferson
Monticello - Home of
Thomas Jefferson
Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states as far as it can be in any human authority." - Letter to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808

"I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles." - Letter to Richard M. Johnson, March 10, 1808

"The true key for the construction of everything doubtful in a law is the intention of the law-makers. This is most safely gathered from the words, but may be sought also in extraneous circumstances provided they do not contradict the express words of the law." - Letter to Albert Gallatin, May 20, 1808

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." - Letter to Shelton Gilliam, June 19, 1808

"For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed militia is their best security." - Eighth Annual Message to Congress, November 8, 1808

"My religious reading has long been confined to the moral branch of religion, which is the same in all religions; while in that branch which consists of dogmas, all differ." - Letter to Thomas Leiper, January 11, 1809

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"But whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others. On this subject they are gaining daily in the opinions of nations, and hopeful advances are making towards their re-establishment on an equal footing with the other colors of the human family." - Letter to Henri Gregoire, February 25, 1809

"If, in my retirement to the humble station of a private citizen, I am accompanied with the esteem and approbation of my fellow citizens, trophies obtained by the bloodstained steel, or the tattered flags of the tented field, will never be envied. The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." - Letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, March 31, 1809

"I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books, to be lent to the people of the country under regulations as would secure their safe return in due time." - Letter to John Wyche, May 19, 1809

"The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society, He has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses." - Letter to James Fishback, September 27, 1809

"I have received safely... the foliage of the Alleghany Martagon. A plant of so much beauty and fragrance will be a valuable addition to our flower gardens." - Letter to W. Fleming, November 28, 1809

"In times of peace the people look most to their representatives; but in war, to the executive solely." - Letter to Caesar Rodney, February 10, 1810

More Thomas Jefferson Quotes for you!

"No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among mankind than I do, and none has greater confidence in its effect towards supporting free and good government." - Letter to Trustees for the Lottery of East Tennessee College, May 6, 1810

"I think it the duty of farmers who are wealthier than others to give those less so the benefit of any improvements they can introduce, gratis." - Letter to Joseph Dougherty, June 27, 1810

"The last hope of human liberty in this world rests on us. We ought, for so dear a state to sacrifice every attachment and every enmity." - Letter to William Duane, March 28, 1811

"Politics, like religion, hold up the torches of martyrdom to the reformers of error." - Letter to James Ogilvie, August 4, 1811

"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest, a continued one thro' the year. Under a total want of demand except for our family table. I am still devoted to the garden. But tho' an old man, I am but a young gardener." - Letter to Charles Willson Peale, Poplar Forest, August 20, 1811

"I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid; and I find myself much the happier." - Letter to John Adams, January 21, 1812

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



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