Thomas Jefferson

(1743-1826 / Shadwell, Virginia)

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

  • ''We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty, in a feather-bed.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, April 2, 1790, to Lafayette. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 16, p. 293, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950). Concerns the progress of the French Revolution.
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  • ''Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor ... over each other.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 17, p. 160, ed. William Peden (1954).
  • ''While learning the language in France a young man's morals, health and fortune are more irresistibly endangered than in any country of the universe.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, June 21, 1789, to Dugald Stewart. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 15, p. 204, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • ''What has been the effect of [religious] coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 17, p. 160, ed. William Peden (1954).
  • ''Health, learning and virtue will ensure your happiness; they will give you a quiet conscience, private esteem and public honour.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, August 6, 1788, to Peter Carr. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 13, p. 470, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • ''Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 6, p. 33, ed. William Peden (1954).
  • ''A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, December 20, 1787, to James Madison. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 12, p. 440, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • ''We do not mean to count or weigh our contributions by any standard other than that of our abilities.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, October 15, 1780, to Thomas Burke. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 4, p. 39, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950). Requests from the Second Continental Congress for money the state does not have.
  • ''The difficulty is no longer to find candidates for the offices, but offices for the candidates.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, September 17, 1792, to John Syme. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 24, p. 388, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).
  • ''The cutting of heads is become so much a la mode, that one is apt to feel of a morning whether their own is on their shoulders.''
    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, July 25, 1789, to Maria Cosway. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 15, p. 305, ed. Julian P. Boyd, et al. (1950).

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