Thomas Jefferson: Still the One

The stupidity and willful ignorance of our present era cannot dull the force and wisdom of Jefferson’s ideas. Nothing ever will.

Happy 4th of July: In celebration of what might have been, and what one day will be again.

All of the following quotes are those of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence.

‘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.’

‘In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.’

‘The monopoly of a single bank is certainly an evil. The multiplication of them was intended to cure it; but it multiplied an influence of the same character with the first, and completed the supplanting the precious metals by a paper circulation.’

‘It is said that our paper is as good as silver, because we may have silver for it at the bank where it issues. This is not true. One, two, or three persons might have it; but a general application would soon exhaust their vaults, and leave a ruinous proportion of their paper in its intrinsic worthless form.’

‘Never spend your money before you have it.’

‘Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.’

“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 rights of the individual.’

‘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’ll] 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.”

“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people’ (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition.”

‘A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

‘The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.’

‘If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done before.’

‘They (religions) dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.’

‘To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.’

‘When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.’

‘Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.’

‘Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.’

‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’

‘It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.’

‘The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.’

‘He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.’

‘Governments constantly choose between telling lies and fighting wars, with the end result always being the same. One will always lead to the other.’

‘Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.’

‘Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.’

‘The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.’

‘My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.’

‘That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves. If we are directed from Washington (heads of an organization) when to sow and when to reap, we will soon want for bread.’

‘To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.’

‘The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.’

‘I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.’

‘I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature.’

‘Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.’

‘Religions are all alike–founded upon fables and mythologies.’

‘We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.’

‘The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.’

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

‘Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.’

‘I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.’

‘The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.’

‘Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.’

‘A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny!’

‘One man with courage is a majority.’

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