Thomas Jefferson

One of my Personal Heroes.

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which 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. This is the sum of good government.-- (1801 Inaugural Address)

They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition of their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the alter of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

The god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

Reason and free inquiry are the only effective agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error and error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruption of Christianity could not have been purged away.

Force (is) the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism.

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. 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, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith.

And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, in the brain of Jupiter.

There is no truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to god.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

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

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.

Power is not alluring to pure minds.

Difference of opinion leads to enquiry, and enquiry to truth We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual In a government bottomed on the will of all, the... liberty of every individual citizen becomes interesting to all.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. --letter to Archibald Stuart, 1791.

Almighty God hath created the mind free.

When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. -- to William Stephens Smith, 1787. Papers, 12:356.

A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. --  letter (to James Madison, 1787)

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. --   (1777)

I have sworn on the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. --  (1800)

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? -- (1801)

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only; and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. -- in letter to Danbury Baptist Association, 1802.

I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war. --  (1823)

 

Why I am a Libertarian