Jefferson Quotes

Quotes tagged as "jefferson" Showing 1-30 of 39
Benjamin Franklin
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin

Jon Stewart
“Thomas Jefferson once said: 'Of course the people don't want war. But the people can be brought to the bidding of their leader. All you have to do is tell them they're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for somehow a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.' I think that was Jefferson. Oh wait. That was Hermann Goering. Shoot."

[Hosting the Peabody Awards for broadcasting excellence at the New York Waldorf-Astoria, June 6, 2006]”
Jon Stewart

John  Adams
“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved - the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

{Letter to Thomas Jefferson, September 3, 1816]”
John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

Thomas A. Edison
Tom Paine has almost no influence on present-day thinking in the United States because he is unknown to the average citizen. Perhaps I might say right here that this is a national loss and a deplorable lack of understanding concerning the man who first proposed and first wrote those impressive words, 'the United States of America.'

But it is hardly strange.

Paine's teachings have been debarred from schools everywhere and his views of life misrepresented until his memory is hidden in shadows, or he is looked upon as of unsound mind.

We never had a sounder intelligence in this Republic. He was the equal of Washington in making American liberty possible. Where Washington performed Paine devised and wrote. The deeds of one in the Weld were matched by the deeds of the other with his pen.

Washington himself appreciated Paine at his true worth. Franklin knew him for a great patriot and clear thinker. He was a friend and confidant of Jefferson, and the two must often have debated the academic and practical phases of liberty.

I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles. Although the present generation knows little of Paine's writings, and although he has almost no influence upon contemporary thought, Americans of the future will justly appraise his work. I am certain of it.

Truth is governed by natural laws and cannot be denied. Paine spoke truth with a peculiarly clear and forceful ring. Therefore time must balance the scales. The Declaration and the Constitution expressed in form Paine's theory of political rights. He worked in Philadelphia at the time that the first document was written, and occupied a position of intimate contact with the nation's leaders when they framed the Constitution.

Certainly we may believe that Washington had a considerable voice in the Constitution. We know that Jefferson had much to do with the document. Franklin also had a hand and probably was responsible in even larger measure for the Declaration. But all of these men had communed with Paine. Their views were intimately understood and closely correlated. There is no doubt whatever that the two great documents of American liberty reflect the philosophy of Paine.

...Then Paine wrote 'Common Sense,' an anonymous tract which immediately stirred the fires of liberty. It flashed from hand to hand throughout the Colonies. One copy reached the New York Assembly, in session at Albany, and a night meeting was voted to answer this unknown writer with his clarion call to liberty. The Assembly met, but could find no suitable answer. Tom Paine had inscribed a document which never has been answered adversely, and never can be, so long as man esteems his priceless possession.

In 'Common Sense' Paine flared forth with a document so powerful that the Revolution became inevitable. Washington recognized the difference, and in his calm way said that matters never could be the same again. It must be remembered that 'Common Sense' preceded the declaration and affirmed the very principles that went into the national doctrine of liberty. But that affirmation was made with more vigor, more of the fire of the patriot and was exactly suited to the hour... Certainly [the Revolution] could not be forestalled, once he had spoken.

{The Philosophy of Paine, June 7, 1925}”
Thomas Edison, Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison

John  Adams
“It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men... and modern nations, in the consecrations of kings, and in several superstitious chimeras of divine rights in princes and nobles, are nearly unanimous in preserving remnants of it... Is the jealousy of power, and the envy of superiority, so strong in all men, that no considerations of public or private utility are sufficient to engage their submission to rules for their own happiness? Or is the disposition to imposture so prevalent in men of experience, that their private views of ambition and avarice can be accomplished only by artifice? — … There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous, and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. As Copley painted Chatham, West, Wolf, and Trumbull, Warren and Montgomery; as Dwight, Barlow, Trumbull, and Humphries composed their verse, and Belknap and Ramzay history; as Godfrey invented his quadrant, and Rittenhouse his planetarium; as Boylston practised inoculation, and Franklin electricity; as Paine exposed the mistakes of Raynal, and Jefferson those of Buffon, so unphilosophically borrowed from the Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains those despicable dreams of de Pauw — neither the people, nor their conventions, committees, or sub-committees, considered legislation in any other light than ordinary arts and sciences, only as of more importance. Called without expectation, and compelled without previous inclination, though undoubtedly at the best period of time both for England and America, to erect suddenly new systems of laws for their future government, they adopted the method of a wise architect, in erecting a new palace for the residence of his sovereign. They determined to consult Vitruvius, Palladio, and all other writers of reputation in the art; to examine the most celebrated buildings, whether they remain entire or in ruins; compare these with the principles of writers; and enquire how far both the theories and models were founded in nature, or created by fancy: and, when this should be done, as far as their circumstances would allow, to adopt the advantages, and reject the inconveniences, of all. Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.

[Preface to 'A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America', 1787]”
John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America: Akashic U.S. Presidents Series

Thomas Jefferson
“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and opressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”
Thomas Jefferson

John  Adams
“...The Presidential election has given me less anxiety than I myself could have imagined. The next administration will be a troublesome one, to whomsoever it falls, and our John has been too much worn to contend much longer with conflicting factions. I call him our John, because, when you were at the Cul de sac at Paris, he appeared to me to be almost as much your boy as mine.

...As to the decision of your author, though I wish to see the book {Flourens’s Experiments on the functions of the nervous system in vertebrated animals}, I look upon it as a mere game at push-pin. Incision-knives will never discover the distinction between matter and spirit, or whether there is any or not. That there is an active principle of power in the universe, is apparent; but in what substance that active principle resides, is past our investigation. The faculties of our understanding are not adequate to penetrate the universe. Let us do our duty, which is to do as we would be done by; and that, one would think, could not be difficult, if we honestly aim at it.

Your university is a noble employment in your old age, and your ardor for its success does you honor; but I do not approve of your sending to Europe for tutors and professors. I do believe there are sufficient scholars in America, to fill your professorships and tutorships with more active ingenuity and independent minds than you can bring from Europe. The Europeans are all deeply tainted with prejudices, both ecclesiastical and temporal, which they can never get rid of. They are all infected with episcopal and presbyterian creeds, and confessions of faith. They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Herschel’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.

I salute your fireside with best wishes and best affections for their health, wealth and prosperity.

{Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 22 January, 1825}”
John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

Thomas Jefferson
“Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.”
Thomas Jefferson

John  Adams
“This society [Jesuits] has been a greater calamity to mankind than the French Revolution, or Napoleon's despotism or ideology. It has obstructed the progress of reformation and the improvement of the human mind in society much longer and more fatally.

{Letter to Thomas Jefferson, November 4, 1816. Adams wrote an anonymous 4 volume work on the destructive history of the Jesuits}”
John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

John  Adams
“Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?

{Letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821}”
John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

Joseph J. Ellis
“Lincoln once said that America was founded on a proposition that was written by Jefferson in 1776. We are really founded on an argument about what that proposition means.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

“I’m not Thomas Jefferson. He was a pussy!”
Charlie Sheen

Benjamin Franklin
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.

{Franklin's edit to the assertion in Thomas Jefferson's original wording, 'We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable' in a draft of the Declaration of Independence changes it instead into an assertion of rationality. The scientific mind of Franklin drew on the scientific determinism of Isaac Newton and the analytic empiricism of David Hume and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In what became known as 'Hume's Fork' the latters' theory distinguished between synthetic truths that describe matters of fact, and analytic truths that are self-evident by virtue of reason and definition.}”
Benjamin Franklin

John  Adams
“I am bold to Say that neither you nor I, will live to See the Course which 'the Wonders of the Times' will take. Many Years, and perhaps Centuries must pass, before the current will acquire a Settled direction... yet Platonic, Pythagoric, Hindoo, and cabalistic Christianity, which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1,500 years, has received a mortal wound, of which the monster must finally die. Yet so strong is his constitution, that he may endure for centuries before he expires.

{Letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16 1814}”
John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams

“As the nation divided into Federalists and Republicans, each group called the other the worst name possible: "party". Most Americans feared the idea of party; believing that a society should unite to achieve the public good, they denounced parties as groups of ambitious men selfishly competing for power. Worse, parties were danger signals for a republic; if parties dominated a republic's politics, its days were numbered.”
R.B. Bernstein, Thomas Jefferson

“Jefferson feared that Hamilton had plans radically at odds with the Constitution. As he saw it, Hamilton wanted to warp the federal government out of constitutional shape, converting it into a copy of the British government, built on debt, corruption, and influence. Hamilton's goal, Jefferson charged, was to ally the rich and well born with the government at the people's expense, creating a corrupt aristocracy leagued with the government against the people and destroying the virtue that was the basis of republican government. Only a republic could preserve liberty, Jefferson insisted, and only virtue among the people could preserve a republic.”
R.B. Bernstein, Thomas Jefferson

David Graeber
“Thomas Jefferson, that owner of many slaves, chose to begin the Declaration of Independence by directly contradicting the moral basis of slavery, writing "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights ..." thus undercutting simultaneously any argument that Africans were racially inferior, and also that they or their ancestors could ever have been justly and legally deprived of their freedom. In doing so, however, he did not propose some radically new conception of rights and liberties. Neither have subsequent political philosophers. For the most part, we've just kept the old ones, but with the word "not" inserted here and there. Most of our most precious rights and freedoms are a series of exceptions to an overall moral and legal framework that suggests we shouldn't really have them in the first place.”
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years

Ralph Nader
“[Free trade agreements] are trade agreements that don't stick to trade…they colonize environmental labor, and consumer issues of grave concern (in terms of health safety, and livelihoods too) to many, many hundreds of millions of people - and they do that by subordinating consumer, environmental, and labor issues to the imperatives and the supremacy of international commerce.

That is exactly the reverse of how democratic societies have progressed, because over the decades they've progressed by subordinating the profiteering priorities of companies to, say, higher environmental health standards; abolition of child labor; the right of workers to have fair worker standards…and it's this subordination of these three major categories that affect people's lives, labor, environment, the consumer, to the supremacy and domination of trade; where instead of trade getting on its knees and showing that it doesn't harm consumers - it doesn't deprive the important pharmaceuticals because of drug company monopolies, it doesn't damage the air and water and soil and food (environmentally), and it doesn't lacerate the rights of workers - no, it's just the opposite: it's workers and consumers and environments that have to kneel before this giant pedestal of commercial trade and prove that they are not, in a whole variety of ways, impeding international commerce…so this is the road to dictatorial devolution of democratic societies: because these trade agreements have the force of law, they've got enforcement teeth, and they bypass national courts, national regulatory agencies, in ways that really reflect a massive, silent, mega-corporate coup d'etat…that was pulled off in the mid-1990's.”
Ralph Nader

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
“I kept traveling down the road. And everywhere it was the same. What was my name, who were my people? What was I supposed to say? That my father is the president, and my mother is his slave?”
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Jefferson's Sons

“When we seek to understand liberty, equality, progress, constitutional governance, separation of church and state, and the meaning of the American Revolution, we do so in contexts framed by Jefferson's writings and arguments. Whatever we think of Jefferson as a person or as a politician, we can never take away from him his remarkable gift as a writer or his ultimate claims to fame. He achieved his intention to express 'the American mind' and became the leading spokesman for the revolution of ideas that changed, and that continues to change, the face of America and the world. His words mean not only what he might have intended them to mean, but also what succeeding generations of Americans have read into them. Thus, whether he would even comprehend the United States in the first years of the twenty-first century, Jefferson's shadow looms large over us, thanks to the conflicting influences of his thinking, doing, and -- most important -- his writing. That truth alone requires each generation to reacquaint itself with the life and work of Thomas Jefferson, and to grapple with his ambiguous legacies.”
R.B. Bernstein, Thomas Jefferson

Fareed Zakaria
“Jefferson's fear was that without such a system of public education, the country would end up being ruled by a privileged elite that would recycle itself through a network of private institutions that entrenched their advantages.”
Fareed Zakaria, In Defense of a Liberal Education

“Jefferson also founded the first intentionally secularized university in America. His vision for the University of Virginia was for education finally free from traditional Christian dogma. He had a disdain for the influence that institutional Christianity had on education. At the University of Virginia there was no Christian curriculum and the school had no chaplain.”
Daryl C. Cornett

Chris Weitz
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are the things we don't know we don't know.”
Chris Weitz, The New Order

“He began with the core principle he had intoned at the dawn of his political career 25 years before: A democratic Calvinist in the Netherlands could not vote Democratic in the United States because that party trays its origins to Thomas Jefferson, who in turn had endorsed the principles of the French Revolution.”
James Bratt

Thomas Jefferson
“We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”
Thomas Jefferson

Chris Weitz
“There is no place in the world where nobody dies. There is no place where nobody is hungry, or nobody hurts. That place is only in our imagination. But if we get our heads around it, we can go a little way toward making this real place more like that imaginary place. They call that place Utopia.”
Chris Weitz, The New Order

Chris Weitz
“Presidents make history. I'm just a tool of history.”
Chris Weitz, The New Order

Chris Weitz
“Well," I say, "we're practically there."
"Where?" says Jefferson.
"The future.”
Chris Weitz, The New Order

Thomas Jefferson
“I advance it therefore [...] that the blacks [...] are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

“President George Washington’s namesake capital, once a marketplace for slave auctions, is now synonymous with democracy and freedom; so is the iconic Jefferson, who wanted to build an “Empire of Liberty” for the world.”
Patrick Mendis, Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a New Pacific World Order

« previous 1