FAVORITE JEFFERSON QUOTES REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLES =First Principles= "The catholic principle of republicanism is that every people may establish what form of government they please and change it as they please, the will of the nation being the only thing essential." --Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1792. "The mother principle [is] that 'governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people, and execute it.'" --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. "A government is republican in proportion as every member composing it has his equal voice in the direction of its concerns: not indeed in person, which would be impracticable beyond the limits of a city or small township, but by representatives chosen by himself and responsible to him at short periods." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. "We may say with truth and meaning that governments are more or less republican as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition; and believing as I do that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. "Action by the citizens in person, in affairs within their reach and competence, and in all others by representatives, chosen immediately, and removable by themselves, constitutes the essence of a republic... All governments are more or less republican in proportion as this principle enters more or less into their composition." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. "It must be acknowledged that the term "republic" is of very vague application in every language... Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say purely and simply it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally according to rules established by the majority; and that every other government is more or less republican in proportion as it has in its composition more or less of this ingredient of direct action of the citizens. Such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. "It accords with our principles to acknowledge any government to be rightful which is formed by the will of the nation substantially declared." --Thomas Jefferson to Gouverneur Morris, 1792. "The further the departure from direct and constant control by the citizens, the less has the government the ingredient of republicanism; evidently none where the authorities are hereditary... or self-chosen... and little, where for life, in proportion as the life continues in being after the act of election." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. "If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require. And this I ascribe, not to any want of republican dispositions in those who formed these constitutions, but to a submission of true principle to European authorities, to speculators on government, whose fears of the people have been inspired by the populace of their own great cities, and were unjustly entertained against the independent, the happy, and therefore orderly citizens of the United States. Much I apprehend that the golden moment is past for reforming these heresies. The functionaries of public power rarely strengthen in their dispositions to abridge it, and an unorganized call for timely amendment is not likely to prevail against an organized opposition to it." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor,1816. "The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Address, 1790. "It is, indeed, of little consequence who governs us, if they sincerely and zealously cherish the principles of union and republicanism." --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, 1821. =Majority Rule= "The first principle of republicanism is that the lex majoris partis is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights; to consider the will of the society enounced by the majority of a single vote as sacred as if unanimous is the first of all lessons in importance, yet the last which is thoroughly learnt. This law once disregarded, no other remains but that of force, which ends necessarily in military despotism." --Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1817. "And where else will this degenerate son of science [Hume], this traitor to his fellow men, find the origin of just powers, if not in the majority of the society? Will it be in the minority? Or in an individual of that minority?" --Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. "Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them." --Thomas Jefferson to Annapolis Citizens, 1809. "A nation ceases to be republican...when the will of the majority ceases to be the law." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Address, 1808. "Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782. "This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be the best for themselves." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. "The lex majoris partis [is a] fundamental law of nature, by which alone self-government can be exercised by a society." --Thomas Jefferson to James Breckenridge, 1800. "The fundamental law of every society is the lex majoris partis, to which we are bound to submit." --Thomas Jefferson to D. Humphreys, 1789. "The fundamental principle of the government is that the will of the majority is to prevail." --Thomas Jefferson to William Eustis, 1809. "We are sensible of the duty and expediency of submitting our opinions to the will of the majority, and can wait with patience till they get right if they happen to be at any time wrong." --Thomas Jefferson to James Breckenridge, 1800. "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 to Benjamin Waring, 1801. "Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government. They receive it with their being from the hand of nature. Individuals exercise it by their single will; collections of men by that of their majority; for the law of the majority is the natural law of every society of men." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion, Residence Bill, 1790. "If we are faithful to our country, if we acquiesce, with good will, in the decisions of the majority, and the nation moves in mass in the same direction, although it may not be that which every individual thinks best, we have nothing to fear from any quarter." --Thomas Jefferson to Virginia Baptists, 1808. "I subscribe to the principle, that the will of the majority honestly expressed should give law." --Thomas Jefferson: Anas, 1793. "I readily suppose my opinion wrong, when opposed by the majority." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788. "It is my principle that the will of the majority should always prevail. If they approve the proposed convention in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in hopes that they will amend it whenever they shall find it works wrong." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. "If the measures which have been pursued are approved by the majority, it is the duty of the minority to acquiesce and conform." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1811. "Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801. "The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. =Self-Government= "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776. "The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government. Modern times have the signal advantage, too, of having discovered the only device by which these rights can be secured, to wit: government by the people, acting not in person, but by representatives chosen by themselves, that is to say, by every man of ripe years and sane mind, who contributes either by his purse or person to the support of his country." --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. "Man [is] a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights, and with an innate sense of justice; and... he [can] be restrained from wrong and protected in right, by moderate powers, confided to persons of his own choice, and held to their duties by dependence on his own will." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801. "The qualifications for self-government in society are not innate. They are the result of habit and long training." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Everett, 1824. "It is a happy truth that man is capable of self-government, and only rendered otherwise by the moral degradation designedly superinduced on him by the wicked acts of his tyrant." --Thomas Jefferson to M. de Marbois, 1817. "[Our] object is to secure self government by the republicanism of our constitution, as well as by the spirit of the people; and to nourish and perpetuate that spirit. I am not among those who fear the people. They and not the rich are our dependence for continued freedom." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. "The spirit of our people... would oblige even a despot to govern us republicanly." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. "The people, being the only safe depository of power, should exercise in person every function which their qualifications enable them to exercise consistently with the order and security of society. We now find them equal to the election of those who shall be invested with their executive and legislative powers, and to act themselves in the judiciary as judges in questions of fact. The range of their powers ought to be enlarged." --Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814. "Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people; whose rights, however, to the exercise and fruits of their own industry can never be protected against the selfishness of rulers not subject to their control at short periods... My most earnest wish is to see the republican element of popular control pushed to the maximum of its practicable exercise. I shall then believe that our government may be pure and perpetual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1816. "That government which can wield the arm of the people must be the strongest possible." --Thomas Jefferson to Mr. Weaver, 1807. "It should be remembered as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only at first while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice as fast as that relaxes." --Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1819. "If the happiness of the mass of the people can be secured at the expense of a little tempest now and then, or even of a little blood, it will be a precious purchase." --Thomas Jefferson to Ezra Stiles, 1786. "Let this be the distinctive mark of an American that in cases of commotion, he enlists himself under no man's banner, inquires for no man's name, but repairs to the standard of the laws. Do this, and you need never fear anarchy or tyranny. Your government will be perpetual." --Thomas Jefferson: Manuscript, 1801? "Our falling into anarchy would decide forever the destinies of mankind, and seal the political heresy that man is incapable of self-government." --Thomas Jefferson to John Hollins, 1811. "My most earnest wish is to see the republican element of popular control pushed to the maximum of its practicable exercise. I shall then believe that our Government may be pure and perpetual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1816. "I deem no government safe which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries." --Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1803. "The voluntary support of laws, formed by persons of their own choice, distinguishes peculiarly the minds capable of self-government. The contrary spirit is anarchy, which of necessity produces despotism." --Thomas Jefferson to Philadelphia Citizens, 1809. "I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master. Could the contrary of this be proved, I should conclude either that there is no God, or that He is a malevolent being." --Thomas Jefferson to David Hartley, 1787. Compilation copyrighted 1996 by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. Permission hereby granted to quote single excerpts separately.
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