Thomas Jefferson was one of the most influential figures in American history. He served as the third president of the United States and was a key figure in the country’s early development. Jefferson was also a talented architect and scientist.
He is best remembered for his role in the American Revolution and his efforts to promote democracy.
In this article, we will take a look at some of Thomas Jefferson’s most famous quotes!
About Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He was also the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and he played a pivotal role in the American Revolution.
Born into a wealthy Virginia family, Jefferson began his career as a lawyer and later served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He became increasingly opposed to British colonial rule and helped draft the Continental Association, which called for a boycott of British goods.
He also joined the Second Continental Congress, where he drafted the Declaration of Independence. In 1779, Jefferson was elected governor of Virginia and served for two terms till 1781.
In 1784, Jefferson put forward the idea to abolish slavery in all western U.S. territories and limit slave importation to 15 years. Unfortunately, Congress didn’t pass his proposal due to fewer votes. In 1787, though, they did pass the Northwest Ordinance- which, while not abolishing slavery completely as Jefferson had wanted, was still a partial victory that ended slavery in the Northwest Territory. By 1794 and 1796, respectively, both of his slaves, Robert Hemings and James Hemings were freed by Jefferson himself.
He then became secretary of state under President George Washington and advocated for strong relations with France. In 1800, he ran for president against John Adams and won a close election.
As president, Jefferson oversaw the Louisiana Purchase and sent Lewis and Clark on their expedition to explore the American West. He also authored numerous bills that strengthened America’s infrastructure, including establishing the Library of Congress. At the end of his second term as president, Jefferson retired to Monticello again, where he continued to write and defend his legacy until his death in 1826.
Here are the finest Thomas Jefferson Quotes
Jefferson is an important figure in individual liberty, democracy, and republicanism. He is best known for writing the Declaration of Independence, but he was also a key player in the American Revolution and a promoter of science and scholarship. Let’s take a look at some of his most famous quotes:
1. “I cannot live without books.”― Thomas Jefferson
Books transport us to different worlds, teach us new things, and provide comfort in times of trouble. They are like faithful friends, always there when we need them. It is no wonder that Jefferson felt he could not live without them. In a world where so many things are uncertain, books provide a source of stability and wisdom.
They remind us that we are not alone and that others have faced similar challenges. They give us hope for the future and make us believe anything is possible. For all these reasons and more, books will always be an essential part of my life.
2. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”― Thomas Jefferson
3. “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”― Thomas Jefferson
4. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”― Thomas Jefferson
5. “Never buy a thing you do not want, because it is cheap, it will be dear to you.”― Thomas Jefferson
6. “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”― Thomas Jefferson
7. “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”― Thomas Jefferson
8. “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”― Thomas Jefferson
9. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”― Thomas Jefferson
10. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”― Thomas Jefferson
11. “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”― Thomas Jefferson
In a democracy, it is vital that the citizens take an active role in the government. Otherwise, the government may start to act in ways that are not in the people’s best interests. What Jefferson is saying is that if the people do not participate in their government, then it ceases to be a democracy and instead becomes a dictatorship of the majority.
This is why it is so important for everyone to get out and vote. Participating in the democratic process ensures that our government truly represents the people’s will.
12. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”― Thomas Jefferson
13. “Never spend your money before you have it.”― Thomas Jefferson
14. “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry…”― Thomas Jefferson
15. “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”― Thomas Jefferson
16. “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”― Thomas Jefferson
17. “Never trouble another with what you can do yourself.”― Thomas Jefferson
18. “Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.”― Thomas Jefferson
19. “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
20. “Never put off to tomorrow what you can do to-day.”― Thomas Jefferson
21. “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”― Thomas Jefferson
To Jefferson, the government was not some behemoth, faceless entity; it was made up of individuals who each had a role to play in ensuring the nation ran smoothly. And to him, the key ingredient in making sure things ran smoothly was honesty.
He believed that if the government was honest with the people, the people would be honest with the government. In a sense, he saw honesty as the glue that held society together. Without it, everything would quickly fall apart.
22. “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.”― Thomas Jefferson
23. “If you want something you’ve never had, You must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”― Thomas Jefferson
24. “You must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”― Thomas Jefferson
25. “Take care of your cents: Dollars will take care of themselves.”― Thomas Jefferson
26. “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.”― Thomas Jefferson
27. “We never repent of having eat too little.”― Thomas Jefferson
28. “Nothing is troublesome that one does willingly.”― Thomas Jefferson
29. “How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.”― Thomas Jefferson
30. “Take things always by their smooth handle.”― Thomas Jefferson
31. “Think as you please, and so let others, and you will have no disputes.”― Thomas Jefferson
In a world where people are increasingly divided on a wide range of issues, it is more important than ever to remember the importance of tolerance and respect. Differences of opinion are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground. Disputes often arise not because we think differently but because we fail to take the time to understand and empathize with those who see things differently than us.
If we can learn to open our minds and hearts, we just might find that we have more in common than we realize. Jefferson’s quote reminds us that if we want to create a more peaceful and united world, it starts with each of us making an effort to think as others do.
32. “When angry, count 10. before you speak; if very angry, 100.”― Thomas Jefferson
33. “The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”― Thomas Jefferson
34. “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”― Thomas Jefferson
35. “I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more.”― Thomas Jefferson
36. “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”― Thomas Jefferson
37. “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.”― Thomas Jefferson
38. “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”― Thomas Jefferson
39. “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”― Thomas Jefferson
40. “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”― Thomas Jefferson
41. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”― Thomas Jefferson
Dreams of the future have always held a powerful appeal. They offer a tantalizing glimpse of what might be and a chance to reimagine the world. For Thomas Jefferson, dreams of the future were especially appealing. He was a man who championed progress, and he believed that dreaming of the future was essential to achieving it.
Jefferson was not content with simply inheriting the world of his forebears; he wanted to build something better. And so he dreamed of a future in which America would be a beacon of liberty and opportunity. These dreams inspired Jefferson to action and helped him to create a perfect union. Today, we can all learn from Jefferson’s example. By dreaming of a better future, we can help to make it a reality.
42. “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of and which no other people on earth enjoy!”― Thomas Jefferson
43.“Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.”― Thomas Jefferson
44. “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”― Thomas Jefferson
45. “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”― Thomas Jefferson
46. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”― Thomas Jefferson
47. “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.”― Thomas Jefferson
48. “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations…entangling alliances with none”― Thomas Jefferson
49. “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”― Thomas Jefferson
50. “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”― Thomas Jefferson
51. “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”― Thomas Jefferson
Throughout history, there has been a continual tension between liberty and government. On the one hand, liberty is associated with individual rights and freedoms, while on the other hand, the government is associated with rules and regulations. This quote by Thomas Jefferson suggests that, over time, liberty will generally give way to government.
There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon. Firstly, as society becomes more complex, there is a need for greater regulation to maintain order. Secondly, as the world becomes more interconnected, governments can exert more control over their citizens.
Finally, as we become more reliant on technology, there is a risk that government surveillance could become widespread, encroaching on our liberties. While Jefferson’s quote may be controversial, it does raise some valid points about the relationship between liberty and government.
52. “He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”― Thomas Jefferson
53. “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”― Thomas Jefferson
54. “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it the second time.”― Thomas Jefferson
55. “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
56. “Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.”― Thomas Jefferson
57. “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”― Thomas Jefferson
58. “I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless office.”― Thomas Jefferson
59. “A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not an article for mere consumption, but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.”― Thomas Jefferson
60. “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”― Thomas Jefferson
61. “An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.”― Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was ahead of his time in many ways, but his belief in the importance of honesty still holds. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information and choices, it can be difficult to know who or what to believe.
This quote teaches us that there is value in being honest and transparent with others. When we are honest, we build trust and respect. We also set an example for others, showing them that living and interacting with integrity is possible.
62. “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”― Thomas Jefferson
63. “The dead should not rule the living.”― Thomas Jefferson
64. “We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed.”― Thomas Jefferson
65. “I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”― Thomas Jefferson
66. “An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.”― Thomas Jefferson
67. “It is reasonable that everyone who asks justice should do justice”― Thomas Jefferson
68. “Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.”― Thomas Jefferson
69. “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.”― Thomas Jefferson
70. “It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape.”― Thomas Jefferson
71. “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was one of the most influential United States Founding Fathers. He was a strong advocate for democracy and wrote the Declaration of Independence. In this quote, Jefferson emphasizes the need for checks and balances in government to prevent abuse of power.
He believes that the Constitution should be used to limit government officials’ power and prevent them from causing harm. This quote is still relevant today, as there is always a risk of abuse of power by those in positions of authority. The Constitution can be seen as a symbol of hope that Jefferson believed would protect Americans from tyranny.
Let Us Wind Up…
Thomas Jefferson was one of early American history’s most influential and important figures. He was a Founding Father, statesman, diplomat, architect, and more. As we come to the end of this blog post on Jefferson’s life and quotes, it is clear that his words are still just as relevant today as they were when he first uttered them centuries ago.
We hope you have enjoyed learning about this fascinating man and his thoughts on democracy, liberty, and more. As always, thanks for reading!