“Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment...But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.”

Thomas Jefferson

“No people who are ignorant can be truly free.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The object most interesting to me for the residue of my life, will be to see you both developing daily those principles of virtue and goodness which will make you valuable to others and happy in yourselves, and acquiring those talents and that degree of science which will guard you at all times against ennui, the most dangerous poison of life. A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe for felicity....In a world which furnishes so many employments which are useful, and so many which are amusing, it is our own fault if we ever know what ennui is...”

Thomas Jefferson

“The probable accumulation of the surpluses of revenue beyond what can be applied to the payment of the public debt... merits the consideration of Congress. Shall it lie unproductive in the public vaults?...Or shall it rather be appropriated to the improvements of roads, canals, rivers, education, and other great foundations of prosperity and union”

Thomas Jefferson

“Take things always by their smooth handle.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Later, he told his nephew that religion required careful thought, not reflexive acceptance. "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear”

Thomas Jefferson

“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

“History, by apprising [the people] of the past, will enable them to judge of the future.” 

Thomas Jefferson

“The clause too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.”

Thomas Jefferson

“I felt enough of the effect of withdrawing from the world then, to see that it led to an antisocial and misanthropic state of mind, which severely punished him who gives in to it. And it will be a lesson I never shall forget as to myself.”

Thomas Jefferson

“[T]he artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted...”

Thomas Jefferson

“[A] lawyer without books would be like a workman without tools.”

Thomas Jefferson

“If it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government”

Thomas Jefferson


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