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Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who played a pivotal role in the development of the United States. He was also the founder of the University of Virginia, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809.
He was born on April 13, 1743, in Albemarle County, Virginia. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. As there were no official law schools at that time in America, Jefferson studied law under the tutelage of a renowned Virginia Attorney.
Jefferson was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769 to 1775. He also played a major role in the American Revolution as a member of the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1776. After the war, Jefferson served as the governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781.
In 1783, Jefferson drafted the Northwest Ordinance, which established the Northwest Territory. He also served as a diplomat to France from 1784 to 1789. Jefferson was elected the second vice president of the United States in 1796 and became president in 1801 after the death of President John Adams. He was re-elected to a second term in 1804.
During his presidency, he accomplished some major things such as he slashed military expenditures, cutting the budget, and eliminating the tax on whiskey, while simultaneously reducing the national debt by over 30%.
He also completed the purchase of Louisiana from the French, an action that doubled the size of the nation, and deployed new American warships, which forced the Barbary pirates to capitulate, ending a huge problem related to the shipping industry.
After serving his second term, Jefferson continued to pursue his other interests and helped found the University of Virginia, which held its first classes in 1825.
Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, at the age of 83 which was also the 50th anniversary of U.S. independence. Jefferson served the United States for over 50 years of his life as a public official, historian, and philosopher.
Here we are sharing a collection of Thomas Jefferson quotes on law, liberty, and government to which you can still relate even after so many decades.
Thomas Jefferson Quotes
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The opinions and beliefs of men follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I cannot live without books, but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power and teach us that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Law
“There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“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.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“In truth, politeness is artificial good humor. It covers the natural want of it and ends by rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“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
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Liberty
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“It is always better to have no ideas than false ones. To believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“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.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“We confide in our strength, without boasting of it, we respect that of others, without fearing it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Principle
“Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science by rendering them my supreme delight. But the enormities of the times in which I have lived have forced me to take a part in resisting them and to commit myself to the boisterous ocean of political passions.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The happiness of the domestic fireside is the first boon of heaven, and it is well it is so since it is that which is the lot of the mass of mankind.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. That His justice cannot sleep forever.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“My theory has always been that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap and pleasanter than the gloom of despair.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Government
“In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“It is the great parent of science and of virtue, and that a nation will be great in both, always in proportion as it is free.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement, the greater part of life is sunshine.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient. Why enter then as volunteers into those of another?” ― Thomas Jefferson
“We must dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Tyranny
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“One man with courage is a majority.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“In every country where man is free to think and to speak, the difference of opinion will arise from difference of perception, and the imperfection of reason, but these differences, when permitted, as in this happy country, to purify themselves by free discussion, are but as passing clouds overspreading our land transiently, and leaving our horizon more bright and serene.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrongs, and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“As our enemies have found, we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Truth
“When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government, that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“It is error alone which needs the support of the government. Truth can stand by itself.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Experience hath shown that even under the best forms of government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“But as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is on one scale, and self-preservation on the other.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“A machine for making revolutions is doing precisely the wrong thing at just the right time.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us dare to do our duty as we understand it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I am satisfied and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Justice
“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I find that he is happiest of whom the world says least, good or bad.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“He who knows best knows how little he knows.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“When angry, count to 10 before you speak. If very angry, count to 100.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Pursuit Of Happiness
“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The art of life is the art of avoiding pain.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Power is not alluring to pure minds.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it the second time.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Don’t talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Freedom
“Be polite to all, but intimate with few.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“One travels more usefully when alone because he reflects more.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“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 the law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Did you like these Thomas Jefferson quotes?
Jefferson dedicated his whole life to the benefit of the country. He addressed many challenges of his time including political freedom, religious freedom, and educational opportunity.
Due to his leadership skills and his successful presidency, he remains an American icon who still ranks highly among U.S. presidents. Even though slavery was a contradictory issue in his life as he owned over 600 slaves who were kept in his household and on his plantations, Jefferson is still regarded as one of the leading proponents of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights.
Jefferson was a strong advocate for democracy and individual rights, and his legacy continues to influence American politics and culture to this day.
We hope these Thomas Jefferson quotes on truth, justice and freedom will inspire you to find your path in life.
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