Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Quotes tagged as "thomas-jefferson" (showing 1-30 of 55)
Benjamin Franklin
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin

Dumas Malone
“The boldness of his mind was sheathed in a scabbard of politeness.”
Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian

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

Thomas Jefferson
“How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”
Thomas Jefferson

Christopher Hitchens
“Without Thomas Jefferson and his Declaration of Independence, there would have been no American revolution that announced universal principles of liberty. Without his participation by the side of the unforgettable Marquis de Lafayette, there would have been no French proclamation of The Rights of Man. Without his brilliant negotiation of the Louisiana treaty, there would be no United States of America. Without Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, there would have been no Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, and no basis for the most precious clause of our most prized element of our imperishable Bill of Rights - the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Christopher Hitchens

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

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
“If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it."

[First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801]
Thomas Jefferson, The Inaugural Speeches and Messages of Thomas Jefferson, Esq.: Late President of the United States: Together with the Inaugural Speech of James Madison, Esq. ...

Thomas Jefferson
“Those who expect to be both ignorant and free, expect what never was and never will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

Carl Sagan
“Nevertheless, (Jefferson) believed that the habit of skepticism is an essential prerequisite for responsible citizenship. He argued that the cost of education is trivial compared to the cost of ignorance, of leaving government to the wolves. He taught that the country is safe only when the people rule.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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

Carl Sagan
“But, Jefferson worried that the people - and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle - are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process.

Without that, he said, the wolves will take over.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

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

Christopher Hitchens
“We know of no spectacle more ridiculous—or more contemptible—than that of the religious reactionaries who dare to re-write the history of our republic. Or who try to do so. Is it possible that, in their vanity and stupidity, they suppose that they can erase the name of Thomas Jefferson and replace it with the name of some faith-based mediocrity whose name is already obscure? If so, we cheerfully resolve to mock them, and to give them the lie in their teeth.”
Christopher Hitchens

Thomas Jefferson
“We confide in our strength, without boasting of it, we respect that of others, without fearing it.”
Thomas Jefferson

Christopher Hitchens
“We inherited these principles and these freedoms and we here highly resolve that we shall pass them on, as we will pass on an undivided Republic purged of racism and slavery, to our descendants. The popgun discharges of a few pathetic sectarians and crackpot revisionists are negligible, and will be drowned by the mounting chorus that demands: 'Mr Jefferson! BUILD UP THAT WALL'.”
Christopher Hitchens

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

Christopher Hitchens
“We make no saint of Thomas Jefferson—we leave the mindless business of canonization and the worship of humans to the fanatics—but aware as we are of his many crimes and contradictions we say with confidence that his memory and example will endure long after the moral pygmies who try to blot out his name have been forgotten.”
Christopher Hitchens

“Had I realized while on Earth," he said, "that Hell was such a delightful place, I should have put more faith in the teachings of religion. As it was, I actually doubted its existence. A foolish error, cherie. I am pleased to say that you have converted me completely."

"I, too," observed Mr. Hamilton, helping himself to wine, "was something of an unbeliever in my time, and while never quite an atheist, like my arch-enemy Jefferson, I was still inclined to look upon Satan as merely a myth. Imagine my satisfaction to find him ruling a monarchy! You know I spent the greater part of my earthly existence fighting Mr. Jefferson and his absurd democratic ideas and now look at the damn country! Run by morons!”
Frederic Arnold Kummer, Ladies in Hades: A Story of Hell's Smart Set & Gentlemen in Hades: The Story of a Damned Debutante

Thomas Jefferson
“The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I.”
Thomas Jefferson

Richard Dawkins
“A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution.”
Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

“If we are undone, we are the most splendidly ruined of any nation in the universe.”
Charles Thomson

Carl Sagan
“I promise to question everything my leaders tell me. I promise to use my critical faculties. I promise to develop my independence of thought. I promise to educate myself so I can make my own judgements.”
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

“The act of our creation is equal for all of us. The results of our creation are not. The goal of our Founding Fathers was to treat everyone equally under the law, and as such, provide for equality of opportunity, not results.”
A.E. Samaan

Gordon S. Wood
“[John Adams] is vain, irritable, and a bad calculator of the force and probable effect of the motives which govern men. This is all the ill which can possibly be said of him.”
Gordon S. Wood, Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Dumas Malone
“I would recommend it to you to reflect, and remark on, and digest what you read; to enter into the spirit and design of your author; to observe every step he takes to accomplish his end; and to dwell on any remarkable beauties of diction, justness or sublimity of sentiment, or masterly strokes of true wit which may occur in the course of your reading.”
Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian

Dumas Malone
“What he learned from his favorite teacher was not obedience to authority but delight in the exercise of his mind.”
Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian

Dumas Malone
“No Calvinist in New England could have been more rigorous in self-discipline than he was, but the supremely significant fact about his lifelong quest of knowledge is that he found in it "infinite delight." He always loved to study for by this means he expanded the horizons of his mind and gained the power of knowledge, which was the only power he really craved.”
Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian

Dumas Malone
“He learned from the Greek poets "not to expect too much from life; not to dream of a chimerical bliss, ... but to do his duty, without expecting to be rewarded ..., to cultivate his friends and love his country even to the point of self sacrifice." From ancient writers he learned the possibility of courageous resignation, and under their inspiration he worked out for himself a program which was little short of the heroic.”
Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian

« previous 1