All Time Famous Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was a Founding Father of the United States, best known as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Serving as the third U.S. President from 1801 to 1809, he orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase, expanding the nation’s territory. Jefferson was a key figure in the Continental Congress, contributing to the Articles of Confederation. His Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom influenced the First Amendment. Beyond politics, Jefferson was an architect, designing Monticello and the University of Virginia, and a scholar with a notable library. Despite owning slaves, he expressed opposition to slavery. Jefferson’s legacy endures through his role in shaping the nation’s foundational documents, architectural contributions, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He died on July 4, 1826.

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

1. “If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.”
— Thomas Jefferson

2. “Nothing can stop the person with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the person with the wrong mental attitude.”
— Thomas Jefferson

3. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”
— Thomas Jefferson

4. “When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

5. “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
— Thomas Jefferson

6. “I cannot live without books.”
— Thomas Jefferson

7. “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
— Thomas Jefferson

8. “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
— Thomas Jefferson

9. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
— Thomas Jefferson

10. “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”
— Thomas Jefferson

11. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
— Thomas Jefferson

12. “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
— Thomas Jefferson

13. “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”
— Thomas Jefferson

14. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
— Thomas Jefferson

15. “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.”
— Thomas Jefferson

16. “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
— Thomas Jefferson

17. “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
— Thomas Jefferson

18. “Never spend your money before you have earned it.”
— Thomas Jefferson

19. “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”
— Thomas Jefferson

20. “To learn, you have to listen. To improve, you have to try.”
— Thomas Jefferson

21. “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

22. “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
— Thomas Jefferson

23. “A lawyer without books would be like a workman without tools.”
— Thomas Jefferson

24. “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”
— Thomas Jefferson

25. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
— Thomas Jefferson

26. “When the people are afraid of the government, that’s tyranny. But when the government is afraid of the people, that’s liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

27. “Rebellion to tyranny is obedience to God.”
— Thomas Jefferson

28. “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
— Thomas Jefferson

29. “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”
— Thomas Jefferson

30. “A democratic society depends upon an informed and educated citizenry.”
— Thomas Jefferson

31. “The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.”
— Thomas Jefferson

32. “A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.”
— Thomas Jefferson

33. “Every generation needs a new revolution.”
— Thomas Jefferson

34. “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.”
— Thomas Jefferson

35. “A well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.”
— Thomas Jefferson

36. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
— Thomas Jefferson

37. “The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”
— Thomas Jefferson

38. “One man with courage is a majority.”
— Thomas Jefferson

39. “Men of quality are not threatened by women of equality.”
— Thomas Jefferson

40. “The possession of facts is knowledge; the use of them is wisdom.”
— Thomas Jefferson

41. “Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading.”
— Thomas Jefferson

42. “Health is worth more than learning.”
— Thomas Jefferson

43. “It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.”
— Thomas Jefferson

44. “I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”
— Thomas Jefferson

45. “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

46. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
— Thomas Jefferson

47. “All men are created equal.”
— Thomas Jefferson

48. “Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself.”
— Thomas Jefferson

49. “What we learn to do, we learn by doing.”
— Thomas Jefferson

50. “The only security of all is in a free press.”
— Thomas Jefferson

51. “A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.”
— Thomas Jefferson

52. “When the subject is strong, simplicity is the only way to treat it.”
— Thomas Jefferson

53. “The best defense of democracy is an informed electorate.”
— Thomas Jefferson

54. “Without health there is no happiness. An attention to health, then, should take the place of every other object.”
— Thomas Jefferson

55. “I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
— Thomas Jefferson

56. “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
— Thomas Jefferson

57. “When you abandon freedom to achieve security, you lose both and deserve neither.”
— Thomas Jefferson

58. “The God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
— Thomas Jefferson

59. “It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”
— Thomas Jefferson

60. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”
— Thomas Jefferson

61. “If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.”
— Thomas Jefferson

62. “No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence.”
— Thomas Jefferson

63. “Hemp is one of the greatest, most important substances of our nation.”
— Thomas Jefferson

64. “Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.”
— Thomas Jefferson

65. “Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
— Thomas Jefferson

66. “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

67. “If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?”
— Thomas Jefferson

68. “The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.”
— Thomas Jefferson

69. “Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!”
— Thomas Jefferson

70. “All men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
— Thomas Jefferson

71. “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.”
— Thomas Jefferson

72. “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
— Thomas Jefferson

73. “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”
— Thomas Jefferson

74. “The contest is not between us and them, but between good and evil, and if those who would fight evil adopt the ways of evil, evil wins.”
— Thomas Jefferson

75. “The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
— Thomas Jefferson

76. “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

77. “It is as useless to argue with those who have renounced the use of reason as to administer medication to the dead.”
— Thomas Jefferson

78. “If you have to eat crow, eat it while it’s young and tender.”
— Thomas Jefferson

79. “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it the second time.”
— Thomas Jefferson

80. “We need a revolution every 20 years just to keep government honest.”
— Thomas Jefferson

81. “Never use two words when one will do.”
— Thomas Jefferson

82. “He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”
— Thomas Jefferson

83. “Freedom, the first-born of science.”
— Thomas Jefferson

84. “Everything yields to diligence.”
— Thomas Jefferson

85. “A Man’s management of his own purse speaks volumes about character.”
— Thomas Jefferson

86. “Eternal Vigilance is the price of democracy.”
— Thomas Jefferson

87. “The greatest calamity which could befall us would be submission to a government of unlimited powers.”
— Thomas Jefferson

88. “God grant that men of principle shall be our principal men.”
— Thomas Jefferson

89. “Exercise and application produce order in our affairs, health of body, cheerfulness of mind, and these make us precious to our friends.”
— Thomas Jefferson

90. “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
— Thomas Jefferson

91. “I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.”
— Thomas Jefferson

92. “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”
— Thomas Jefferson

93. “The Central Bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the principles and form of our Constitution.”
— Thomas Jefferson

94. “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”
— Thomas Jefferson

95. “Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself.”
— Thomas Jefferson

96. “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”
— Thomas Jefferson

97. “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”
— Thomas Jefferson

98. “The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions, and incapacitations are removed.”
— Thomas Jefferson

99. “A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.”
— Thomas Jefferson

100. “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”
— Thomas Jefferson

101. “No man will labor for himself who can make another labor for him.”
— Thomas Jefferson

102. “We will be soldiers, so our sons may be farmers, so their sons may be artists.”
— Thomas Jefferson

103. “A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free.”
— Thomas Jefferson

104. “The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven. I can scarcely expect bread.”
— Thomas Jefferson

105. “There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.”
— Thomas Jefferson

106. “Ignorance is a poor tool in a battle of wits.”
— Thomas Jefferson

107. “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
— Thomas Jefferson

108. “Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather shall be little regarded. If the body is feeble, the mind will not be strong.”
— Thomas Jefferson

109. “May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.”
— Thomas Jefferson

110. “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”
— Thomas Jefferson

111. “The art of governing consists simply of being honest, exercising common sense, following principle, and doing what is right and just.”
— Thomas Jefferson

112. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse in any country. If it were, the laws would lose their effect, because it can always be pretended.”
— Thomas Jefferson

113. “I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man.”
— Thomas Jefferson

114. “Equal rights for all, special privileges for none.”
— Thomas Jefferson

115. “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.”
— Thomas Jefferson

116. “Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.”
— Thomas Jefferson

117. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
— Thomas Jefferson

118. “The people will not understand the importance of the Second Amendment until it is too late.”
— Thomas Jefferson

119. “Paper is poverty, it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.”
— Thomas Jefferson

120. “Industry, commerce, and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of people.”
— Thomas Jefferson

121. “How soon the labor of men would make a paradise of the earth were it not for misgovernment and a diversion of his energies to selfish interests.”
— Thomas Jefferson

122. “The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.”
— Thomas Jefferson

123. “The federal government is our servant, not our master.”
— Thomas Jefferson

124. “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”
— Thomas Jefferson

125. “Let the eye of vigilance never be closed.”
— Thomas Jefferson

126. “A true patriot will defend his country from its government.”
— Thomas Jefferson

127. “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

128. “The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”
— Thomas Jefferson

129. “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. The Europeans value themselves on having subdued the horse to the uses of man; but I doubt whether we have not lost more than we have gained, by the use of this animal.”
— Thomas Jefferson

130. “Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all it contains, rather than do an immoral act.”
— Thomas Jefferson

131. “The wise know too well their weakness to assume infallibility; and he who knows most knows best how little he knows.”
— Thomas Jefferson

132. “I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man.”
— Thomas Jefferson

133. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
— Thomas Jefferson

134. “When once a Republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”
— Thomas Jefferson

135. “If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong.”
— Thomas Jefferson

136. “I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid; and I find myself much the happier.”
— Thomas Jefferson

137. “In the environment, every victory is temporary, every defeat permanent.”
— Thomas Jefferson

138. “Paper money is liable to be abused, has been, is, and forever will be abused, in every country in which it is permitted.”
— Thomas Jefferson

139. “Every man has two countries: his own and France.”
— Thomas Jefferson

140. “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
— Thomas Jefferson

141. “Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.”
— Thomas Jefferson

142. “The man who would choose security over freedom deserves neither.”
— Thomas Jefferson

143. “Of all exercises, walking is the best.”
— Thomas Jefferson

144. “That government that governs least governs best.”
— Thomas Jefferson

145. “It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all.”
— Thomas Jefferson

146. “We must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies.”
— Thomas Jefferson

147. “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.”
— Thomas Jefferson

148. “But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have been called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”
— Thomas Jefferson

149. “The sheep are happier of themselves, than under the care of wolves.”
— Thomas Jefferson

150. “Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
— Thomas Jefferson

151. “The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.”
— Thomas Jefferson

152. “A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.”
— Thomas Jefferson

153. “Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.”
— Thomas Jefferson

154. “The dead should not rule the living.”
— Thomas Jefferson

155. “In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

156. “Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to the truth.”
— Thomas Jefferson

157. “Our minds and hearts are free to believe everything or nothing at all – and it is our duty to protect and perpetuate this sacred culture of freedom.”
— Thomas Jefferson

158. “The only thing a man can take beyond this lifetime is his ethics.”
— Thomas Jefferson

159. “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
— Thomas Jefferson

160. “No government should be without critics. If its intentions are good then it has nothing to fear from criticism.”
— Thomas Jefferson

161. “Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.”
— Thomas Jefferson

162. “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.”
— Thomas Jefferson

163. “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.”
— Thomas Jefferson

164. “I find as I grow older that I love those most whom I loved first.”
— Thomas Jefferson

165. “Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.”
— Thomas Jefferson

166. “The First Amendment has created a wall of separation between the church and the State. But that wall is one directional. It is to keep the government from running the Church. But it is not to keep Christian principles out of the government.”
— Thomas Jefferson

167. “Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act if all the world were looking at you, and act accordingly.”
— Thomas Jefferson

168. “But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.”
— Thomas Jefferson

169. “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
— Thomas Jefferson

170. “Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.”
— Thomas Jefferson

171. “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.”
— Thomas Jefferson

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

173. “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.”
— Thomas Jefferson

174. “The constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.”
— Thomas Jefferson

175. “While the farmer holds the title to the land it belongs to all the people because civilization itself rests upon the soil.”
— Thomas Jefferson

176. “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.”
— Thomas Jefferson

177. “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”
— Thomas Jefferson

178. “Delay is preferable to error.”
— Thomas Jefferson

179. “The genius of architecture seems to have shed its maledictions over this land.”
— Thomas Jefferson

180. “Men as well as rivers grow crooked by following the path of least resistance.”
— Thomas Jefferson

181. “Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.”
— Thomas Jefferson

182. “Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. The small landowners are the most precious part of a state.”
— Thomas Jefferson

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

184. “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God.”
— Thomas Jefferson

185. “Victory and defeat are each of the same price.”
— Thomas Jefferson

186. “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain; and he is the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset.”
— Thomas Jefferson

187. “No government can continue good, but under the control of the people.”
— Thomas Jefferson

188. “The most fortunate of us, in our journey through life, frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may greatly afflict us; and, to fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and misfortunes, should be one of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives.”
— Thomas Jefferson

189. “Each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its happiness.”
— Thomas Jefferson

190. “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”
— Thomas Jefferson

191. “Merchants have no country.”
— Thomas Jefferson

192. “Let those flatter, who fear: it is not an American art. To give praise where it is not due, might be well from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting the rights of human nature.”
— Thomas Jefferson

193. “Certain teachings in the Bible are as diamonds in a dung-heap.”
— Thomas Jefferson

194. “The worst day in a man’s life is when he sits down and begins thinking about how he can get something for nothing.”
— Thomas Jefferson

195. “Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”
— Thomas Jefferson

196. “All through your life, you’ll be faced with making a decision between two things-choose the one that is right. If they are both right, then choose the one that will make you feel the best about it at the end of the day.”
— Thomas Jefferson

197. “It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.”
— Thomas Jefferson

198. “A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.”
— Thomas Jefferson

199. “Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.”
— Thomas Jefferson

200. “I have nothing but contempt for anyone who can spell a word in only one way.”
— Thomas Jefferson

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