Last Updated on 22 June 2024

Quotes from Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

  • Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.
  • Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
  • Delay is preferable to error.
  • History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.
  • I agree with you that it is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities, which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country.
  • I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but 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 discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
  • I cannot live without books.
  • I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books, to be lent to the people of the country under regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.
  • I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature.
  • I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.
  • I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
  • If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
  • In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
  • 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.
  • It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God.
  • 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.
  • The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.
  • A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.
  • No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will.
  • Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.
  • Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.
  • Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our god alone. I enquire after no man’s and trouble none with mine; nor is it given to us in this life to know whether yours or mine, our friend’s or our foe’s, are exactly the right.
  • Question with boldness even the existence of a god.
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
  • Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
  • When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.