Thomas Jefferson

fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 — 1798
Category: Constitution
In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Elbridge Gerry — 1797
Category: The Presidency
The second office of this government is honorable & easy, the first is but a splendid misery.

Thomas Jefferson

Letter to William Hunter — 1790
Category: Republican Government
The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.

Thomas Jefferson

First Inaugural Address — 1801
Category: International Relations
Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Edward Carrington — 1787
Category: Education
Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Joel Barlow — 1807
Category: Education
People generally have more feeling for canals and roads than education. However, I hope we can advance them with equal pace.

Thomas Jefferson

Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV — 1781
Category: The People
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.

Thomas Jefferson

on Alexander Hamilton in The Anas
Category: Founders on Founders
Hamilton was indeed a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life, yet so bewitched & perverted by the British example, as to be under thoro' conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to John Taylor — 1816
Category: Budget
The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Dupont de Nemours — 1816
Category: Education
Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.

Thomas Jefferson

Rights of British America — 1774
Category: Laws of Nature
That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.

Thomas Jefferson

First Inaugural Address — 1801
Category: Republican Government
Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

Thomas Jefferson

Notes on Virginia, Query 19 — 1781
Category: Poverty
Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Thomas Jefferson

on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones — 1814
Category: Founders on Founders
His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder

Thomas Jefferson

on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones — 1814
Category: Founders on Founders
Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed.

Thomas Jefferson

Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank — 1791
Category: Federalism
I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition.

Thomas Jefferson

on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones — 1814
Category: Founders on Founders
On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance.

Thomas Jefferson

on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones — 1814
Category: Founders on Founders
His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man.

Thomas Jefferson

on George Washington in a letter to William Branch Giles — 1795
Category: Founders on Founders
[T]he President, who errs as other men do, but errs with integrity.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Elbridge Gerry — 1801
Category: America
The steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we may safely moor; and notwithstanding the efforts of the papers to disseminate early discontents, I expect that a just, dispassionate and steady conduct, will at length rally to a proper system the great body of our country. Unequivocal in principle, reasonable in manner, we shall be able I hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of freedom & harmony.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to John Sinclair — 1791
Category: Advice
It is a happy circumstance in human affairs that evils which are not cured in one way will cure themselves in some other.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Edward Rutledge — 1788
Category: Virtue
My confidence is that there will for a long time be virtue and good sense enough in our countrymen to correct abuses.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to William Stephens Smith — 1787
Category: Liberty
What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Richard Rush — 1820
Category: Liberty
The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to William Johnson — 1823
Category: The People
The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union.