The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
Letter to W. S. Smith, 13 November 1787
It is an axiom in my mind, that our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves, and that too of the people with a certain degree of instruction. This it is the business of the State to effect, and on a general plan.Thomas JeffersonLetter to George Washington (4 January 1786)
The second office of the government is honorable and easy, the first is but a splendid misery.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Elbridge Gerry (13 May 1797).
For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed militia is their best security.Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson's Eighth State of the Union Address (8 November 1808).
I have ever deemed it more honorable and profitable, too, to set a good example than to follow a bad one.Thomas JeffersonAs quoted in The Life and Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Including All of His Important Utterances on Public Questions (1900) by Samuel E. Forman, p. 429.
Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Dr. James Currie (28 January 1786)
If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Thomas Cooper (November 29, 1802).
Whatever be their degree of talents, it is no measure of their rights.Thomas JeffersonQuoted in The Science and Politics of Racial Research by William H. Tucker (1994), p. 11.
No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution (1776).
We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (2 April 1790).
The Constitution... meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Abigail Adams (1804).
I believe... that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.Thomas JeffersonLetter to John Adams (1816).
Paper is poverty,... it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Colonel Edward Carrington (27 May 1788) ME 7:36.
Whensoever hostile aggressions...require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Andrew Jackson (3 December 1806).
Knowing that religion does not furnish grosser bigots than law, I expect little from old judges.Thomas JeffersonLetter to Thomas Cooper (1810).
I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. [...] It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.Thomas JeffersonLetter to statesman (later president) James Madison (Jan. 30, 1787).
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