Thomas Jefferson

letter to Joseph Cabell — 1820
Category: Education
The truth is that the want of common education with us is not from our poverty, but from the want of an orderly system. More money is now paid for the education of a part than would be paid for that of the whole if systematically arranged.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Colonel Charles Yancey — 1816
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

on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones — 1814
Category: Founders on Founders
His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment easy, erect and noble.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to George Washington — 1784
Category: Equality
The foundation on which all [constitutions] are built is the natural equality of man, the denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, and particularly the denial of a preeminence by birth.

Thomas Jefferson

Autobiography — 1821
Category: Federal Government
Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Charles Hammond — 1821
Category: Federal Government
[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Judge William Johnson — 1823
Category: Federalism
[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore...never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.

Thomas Jefferson

on Patrick Henry — 1824
Category: Founders on Founders
His temper was excellent, and he generally observed decorum in debate. On one or two occasions I have seen him angry, and his anger was terrible; those who witnessed it, were not disposed to rouse it again.

Thomas Jefferson

Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18 — 1781
Category: God
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Joseph Milligan — 1816
Category: Taxation
For example. If the system be established on basis of Income, and his just proportion on that scale has been already drawn from every one, to step into the field of Consumption, and tax special articles in that, as broadcloth or homespun, wine or whiskey, a coach or a wagon, is doubly taxing the same article. For that portion of Income with which these articles are purchased, having already paid its tax as Income, to pay another tax on the thing it purchased, is paying twice for the same thing; it is an aggrievance on the citizens who use these articles in exoneration of those who do not, contrary to the most sacred of the duties of a government, to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to William Ludlow — 1824
Category: Bureaucracy
I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to E. Carrington — 1788
Category: Government
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Thomas Jefferson

First Inaugural Address — 1801
Category: Government
[A] wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Abigail Adams — 1787
Category: Government
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland — 1809
Category: Government
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

Thomas Jefferson

Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14 — 1781
Category: History
History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Hugh White — 1801
Category: Immigration
Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Charles Hammond — 1821
Category: Judiciary
It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression...that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Judge Spencer Roane — 1819
Category: Judiciary
The Constitution...is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Edward Livingston — 1825
Category: Judiciary
One single object...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Thomas Ritchie — 1820
Category: Judiciary
A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.

Thomas Jefferson

letter to Thomas Ritchie — 1820
Category: Judiciary
The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.

Thomas Jefferson

First Inaugural Address — 1801
Category: Justice
[I]t is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political....

Thomas Jefferson

Note in Destutt de Tracy — 1816
Category: Justice
The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all citizens.

Thomas Jefferson

Opinion on Debts Due to Soldiers — 1790
Category: Justice
It is not honorable to take mere legal advantage, when it happens to be contrary to justice.