Quotations From THOMAS JEFFERSON


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  • When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. letter, Feb. 21, 1825, to Thomas Jefferson Smith. Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life, vol. 10, no. 10, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul L. Ford (1899).
  • I enclose to you a copy of the declaration of independence as agreed to by the House, and also, as originally framed. You will judge whether it is the better or worse for the Critics.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, July 8, 1776, to Richard Henry Lee. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 1, p. 456, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).

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  • Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Speech, March 4, 1801. First Inaugural Address, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 3, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb (1904).

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  • The selfish spirit of commerce, which knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, April 15, 1809. See also Jefferson's comment under "trade."

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  • Government is being founded on opinion, the opinion of the public, even when it is wrong, ought to be respected to a certain degree.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, February 9, 1791, to Nicholas Lewis. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 19, p. 263, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • I believe from what I have lately seen that we should be substantially safe were our Citizens Armed, but we have not as many Arms as we have Enemies in the State.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, April 12, 1781, to La Luzerne. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 5, p. 422, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950). Written while governor of Virginia, during the British invasion of the state.

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  • In Europe the object is to make the most of their land, labour being abundant: here it is to make the most of our labour, land being abundant.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 8, p. 85, ed. William Peden (1954).
  • Go on then in doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword; shew that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, June 19, 1792, to Thomas Paine. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 20, p. 312, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, August 1, 1816, to John Adams. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, vol. 2, p. 484, ed. Lester J. Cappon (1959).

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  • I have now the gloomy prospect of retiring from office loaded with serious debts, which will materially affect the tranquility of my retirement.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, January 5, 1808, to his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson, p. 317, eds. E.M. Betts and J.A. Bear, Jr. (1966).

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