These inspiring Thomas Jefferson quotes by the author of the Declaration of Independece still apply to our lives today. Share which one you think is the most influential in the comments below.
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence. He was a leading figure in America’s early development and held various public offices during almost five decades of public service. Besides president, he also served as a congressman, diplomatic minister, secretary of state and vice president.
A man of many unique accomplishments, Jefferson is also honored for being the father of the University of Virginia and the author of the Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom. He dedicated his life to addressing the challenges of his time – political freedom, religious freedom and educational opportunity.
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in Virginia. In 1760, he graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Since there were no official law schools in America at the time, Jefferson studied law under the tutelage of a renowned Virginia Attorney.
During the American Revolution, Jefferson, who was also a gifted writer, was tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence. He would later rise to become the third U.S. president in 1801.
After his presidency, Jefferson continued to pursue his many interests and helped found the University of Virginia, which held its first classes in 1825. He died on July 4, 1826, at the age of 83.
Also check out these great John Locke quotes for more enlightenment.
Find powerful inspiration in these Thomas Jefferson quotes
1. “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson
2. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson
3. “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” – Thomas Jefferson
4. “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson
5. “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” – Thomas Jefferson
6. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson
7. “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson
8. “Never spend your money before you have earned it.” – Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson quotes about revolution
9. “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” – Thomas Jefferson
10. “The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.” – Thomas Jefferson
11. “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.” – Thomas Jefferson
12. “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson
13. “For people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.” – Thomas Jefferson
14. “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson
15. “I cannot live without books.” – Thomas Jefferson
16. “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
17. “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson
18. “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
19. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson
Don’t forget to also read these wise Alexander Hamilton quotes that remain true today.
Thomas Jefferson quotes about freedom
20. “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson
21. “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson
22. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. – Thomas Jefferson
23. “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” – Thomas Jefferson
24. “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
25. “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves ; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” – Thomas Jefferson
26. “When we see religion split into so many thousand of sects, and I may say Christianity itself divided into its thousands also, who are disputing, anathematizing and where the laws permit burning and torturing one another for abstractions which no one of them understand, and which are indeed beyond the comprehension of the human mind, into which of the chambers of this Bedlam would a man wish to thrust himself. – Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson quotes about education
27. “Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, &c. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent.” – Thomas Jefferson
28. “As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. – Thomas Jefferson
29. “All should be laid open to you without reserve, for there is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.”
The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.” – Thomas Jefferson
30. “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 Jefferson
31. “The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.” – Thomas Jefferson
32. “Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.” – Thomas Jefferson
33. “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson
34. “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” – Thomas Jefferson
35. A republican government is slow to move, yet once in motion it’s momentum becomes irresistible. – Thomas Jefferson
36. Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it. – Thomas Jefferson
37. Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. – Thomas Jefferson
38. I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it. – Thomas Jefferson
39. Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the general progress of the human mind. – Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson quotes to enlighten
40. It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give happiness. – Thomas Jefferson
41. Never trouble another for what you can do for yourself. – Thomas Jefferson
42. No instance exists of a person’s writing two languages perfectly. That will always appear to be his native language which was most familiar to him in his youth. – Thomas Jefferson
43. Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one. – Thomas Jefferson
44. The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. – Thomas Jefferson
45. The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive. – Thomas Jefferson
46. 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
47. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. – Thomas Jefferson
48. We confide in our strength, without boasting of it; we respect that of others, without fearing it. – Thomas Jefferson
49. Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. – Thomas Jefferson
50. “No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will.”― Thomas Jefferson
Don’t forget to also read these Dwight D. Eisenhower quotes on life, politics and progress.
Thomas Jefferson quotes that capture his true spirit
51. “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”― Thomas Jefferson
52. “Those who expect to be both ignorant and free, expect what never was and never will be.”― Thomas Jefferson
53. “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”― Thomas Jefferson
54. “A great deal of love given to a few is better than a little to many.”― Thomas Jefferson
55. “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”― Thomas Jefferson
56. “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”― Thomas Jefferson
57. “I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless office.”― Thomas Jefferson
58. “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”― Thomas Jefferson
59. “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”― Thomas Jefferson
60. “The opinions and beliefs of men follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds.”― Thomas Jefferson
Thought-provoking Thomas Jefferson quotes
61. “Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion.”― Thomas Jefferson
62. “Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.”― Thomas Jefferson
63. “Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.”― Thomas Jefferson
64. “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain.”― Thomas Jefferson
65. “A little rebellion is good now and then.”― Thomas Jefferson
66. “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”― Thomas Jefferson
67. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government”― Thomas Jefferson
68. “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”― Thomas Jefferson
69. “In matters of principle stand like a rock.”― Thomas Jefferson
70. “A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.”
― Thomas Jefferson
You might also like these Abigail Adams quotes about education, peace, and women’s rights.
More Thomas Jefferson Quotes
81. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
82. “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.” – Thomas Jefferson
83. “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” – Thomas Jefferson
84. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” – Thomas Jefferson
85. “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.” – Thomas Jefferson
86. “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.” – Thomas Jefferson
87. “The dead should not rule the living.” – Thomas Jefferson
88. “It is reasonable that everyone who asks justice should do justice.” – Thomas Jefferson
89. “Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” – Thomas Jefferson
90. “Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.” – Thomas Jefferson
Did you enjoy these Thomas Jefferson quotes
Thomas Jefferson remains an American icon who still ranks highly among U.S. presidents. Although slavery was a contradictory issue in his life, he is still regarded as one of the leading proponents of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights.
On April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth, the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. was dedicated to him. Additionally, his face is carved into stone at Mount Rushmore and he is featured on the U.S. nickel coin.
No matter how you remember him, these quotes will hopefully stay with you as a remembrance of one of the most important of the American founding fathers.
Did you enjoy these Thomas Jefferson quotes? Do you have any other quotes from Thomas Jefferson that you’d like to share with us? Tell us in the comment section below. We would love to hear all about it.
March 19, 2021 6:00 AM EST