The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson


Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

My Favorite Quotes of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, musician, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He had previously served as the second vice president of the United States under John Adams between 1797 and 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national levels.

The problem with quoting Jefferson is that he had many notable quotes, and some of them contradictory, that it is difficult to select his quotes that reflect his core ideals and ideas. Nevertheless, the following are my favorite quotes by Thomas Jefferson that I keep in mind when writing my Chirps and Articles:

On Politics

“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 law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“I hope our wisdom will grow without power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labours of people under the pretence of taking care of them, they might just become happy.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save the one-half the wars of the world.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Power is not alluring to pure minds.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when the government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed corporations.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“The equal rights of man and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“The government closest to the people serves the people best.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“The government closest to the people serves the people best.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors in sinful and tyrannical.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

On Education and Information

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects to what never was and never will be.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Where the press is free and every man is able to read, all is safe.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

On Religion

“Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of Censor — over each other.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“If God is just, I tremble for my country.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to liberty.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no God.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“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 blind-folded fear.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“The way to silence religious disputes is to take no notice of them.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

On Life

“Delay is preferable to error.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, sufocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which never happened.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the I have of it.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“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.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“Think as you please, and so let others, and you will have no disputes.”
 - Thomas Jefferson

“When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”
 - Thomas Jefferson