“A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the highest virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.”

Thomas Jefferson

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

Thomas Jefferson

“Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”

Thomas Jefferson

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

Thomas Jefferson

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

Thomas Jefferson

“I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it”

Thomas Jefferson

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

Thomas Jefferson

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is Just”

Thomas Jefferson

“New York, like London, seems to be a cloacina [toilet] of all the depravities of human nature.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The fantastical idea of virtue and the public good being a sufficient security to the state against the commission of crimes...was never mine. It is only the sanguinary hue of our penal laws which I meant to object to. Punishments I know are necessary, and I would provide them strict and inflexible, but proportioned to the crime. Death might be inflicted for murder and perhaps for treason, [but I] would take out of the description of treason all crimes which are not such in their nature. Rape, buggery, etc., punish by castration. All other crimes by working on high roads, rivers, gallies, etc., a certain time proportioned to the offence... Laws thus proportionate and mild should never be dispensed with. Let mercy be the character of the lawgiver, but let the judge be a mere machine. The mercies of the law will be dispensed equally and impartially to every description of men; those of the judge or of the executive power will be the eccentric impulses of whimsical, capricious designing man.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The dead should not rule the living.”

Thomas Jefferson

“...vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ’76 now look to a single and splendid government of an Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry.”

Thomas Jefferson

“If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Even in Europe a change has sensibly taken place in the mind of man. Science has liberated the ideas of those who read and reflect, and the American example has kindled feelings of right in the people.”

Thomas Jefferson


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