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Quotes of the day: Thomas Jefferson
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Published Saturday, April 12, 2014 @ 9:30 PM EDT
Apr 12 2014

Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). He was a spokesman for democracy, embraced the principles of republicanism and the rights of man with worldwide influence. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

And to preserve their 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.

Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.

Christian creeds and doctrines, the clergy's own fatal inventions, through all the ages has made of Christendom a slaughterhouse, and divided it into sects of inextinguishable hatred for one another.

Compulsion in religion is distinguished peculiarly from compulsion in every other thing. I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment: but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor.

Delay is preferable to error.

Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

Do not be too severe upon the errors of the people, but reclaim them by enlightening them.

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow.

God forbid we should ever be twenty years without a rebellion.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have of it.

I have not observed men's honesty to increase with their riches.

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

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.

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 know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.

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

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

If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.

If we were directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should all want bread.

In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Information is the currency of democracy.

It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.

It is as useless to argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason as to administer medication to the dead.

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

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

It is not by the consolidation, or concentration, of powers, but by their distribution that good government is effected.

It is part of the American character to consider nothing desperate.

Merchants have no country.

No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it.

On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

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 blindfolded fear.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human.

Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember it, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.

That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.

The art of governing consists simply of being honest, exercising common sense, following principle, and doing what is right and just.

The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.

The man who fears no truths has nothing to fear from lies.

The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehood and errors.

The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.

The most valuable of all talents is never using two words when one will do.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

The possession of facts is knowledge, the use of them is wisdom.

The second office in the government is honorable and easy; the first is but a splendid misery.

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.

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 tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

The way to silence religious disputes is to take no notice of them.

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.

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

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

We must be contented to amuse, when we cannot inform.

We should consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves.

Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened, instead of being reserved for what is really to take place.

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.

When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.

Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.


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Another reason conservatives hate Jefferson...
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Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 @ 1:10 AM EST
Jan 23 2013

...and why Texas textbooks are replacing his many contributions and observations with references to St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin:

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
=letter to Samuel Kercheval from Thomas Jefferson,
June 12, 1816


Categories: Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Constitution


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