Thomas Jefferson

(1743-1826 / Shadwell, Virginia)

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

  • ''There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. letter, Oct. 28, 1813, to former president, John Adams. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 9, ed. Paul L. Ford (1898).
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  • ''The great cause which divides our countries is not to be decided by individual animosities. The harmony of private societies cannot weaken national efforts.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 1779, to William Phillips. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 2, p. 261, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • ''Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on [political offices], a rottenness begins in his conduct.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, May 21, 1799. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 7, ed. Paul L. Ford (1896).
  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''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."
  • ''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.
  • ''While old men feel sensibly enough their own advance in years, they do not sufficiently recollect it in those whom they have seen young.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, January 3, 1793, to William Short. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 25, p. 15, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).

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