FAVORITE JEFFERSON QUOTES REPUBLICAN POLICY =The Justice System= "Justice is the fundamental law of society." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. "The most sacred of the duties of a government is to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens." --Thomas Jefferson: Note in Tracy's, "Political Economy," 1816. "It is the will of the nation which makes the law obligatory; it is their will which vacates or annihilates the organ which is to declare and announce it." --Thomas Jefferson to Edmund Randolph, 1799. "Law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." --Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, 1819. "An equal application of law to every condition of man is fundamental." --Thomas Jefferson to George Hay, 1807. "Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals." --Thomas Jefferson to Col. Vanneter, 1781. "A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties 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 to John Colvin, 1810. "No nation however powerful, any more than an individual, can be unjust with impunity. Sooner or later, public opinion, an instrument merely moral in the beginning, will find occasion physically to inflict its sentences on the unjust... The lesson is useful to the weak as well as the strong." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1804. =Commerce & Agriculture= "Agriculture, manufactures, commerce and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise. Protection from casual embarrassments, however, may sometimes be seasonably interposed." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801. "The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits." --Thomas Jefferson to M. L'Hommande, 1787. "[Ours is a] policy of not embarking the public in enterprises better managed by individuals, and which might occupy as much of our time as those political duties for which the public functionaries are particularly instituted. Some money could be lent them [the New Orleans Canal Co.], but only on an assurance that it would be employed so as to secure the public objects." --Thomas Jefferson to W. C. C. Claiborne, 1808. "I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." --Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816. "The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain." --Thomas Jefferson to Larkin Smith, 1809. =Taxation & Debt= "Many of the opposition [to the new Federal Constitution] wish to take from Congress the power of internal taxation. Calculation has convinced me that this would be very mischievous." --Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, 1788. "Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1784. "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785. "Taxes on consumption, like those on capital or income, to be just, must be uniform." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Smith, 1823. "The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied... Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings." --Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811. "Excessive taxation... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798. =Public Welfare= "The poor who have neither property, friends, nor strength to labor, are boarded in the houses of good farmers, to whom a stipulated sum is annually paid. To those who are able to help themselves a little, or have friends from whom they derive some succor, inadequate however to their full maintenance, supplementary aids are given which enable them to live comfortably in their own houses, or in the houses of their friends. --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782. =Public Education= "I know no safe depositary 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 to William C. Jarvis, 1820. "Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782. "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. "Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, the people, if well informed, may be relied on to set them to rights." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, 1789. "A system of general instruction, which shall reach every description of our citizens from the richest to the poorest, as it was the earliest, so will it be the latest of all the public concerns in which I shall permit myself to take an interest." --Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell, 1818. "The tax which will be paid for [the] purpose [of education] is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance." --Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1786. "Nature has wisely provided an aristocracy of virtue and talent for the direction of the interest of society, and scattered it with equal hand through all its conditions." --Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. "It becomes expedient for promoting the public happiness that those persons, whom nature has endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens; and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance." --Thomas Jefferson: Diffusion of Knowledge Bill, 1779. "If the condition of man is to be progressively ameliorated, as we fondly hope and believe, education is to be the chief instrument in effecting it." --Thomas Jefferson to M. A. Jullien, 1818. "The main objects of all science [are] the freedom and happiness of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810. "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 to Charles Yancey, 1816. "No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness... Preach a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against the evils [of misgovernment]." --Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 1786. =Foreign Relations= "I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe, entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of Kings to war against the principles of liberty." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. "We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country, nor with the general affairs of Europe." --Thomas Jefferson to C. W. F. Dumas, 1793. "Nothing is so important as that America shall separate herself from the systems of Europe, and establish one of her own. Our circumstances, our pursuits, our interests, are distinct. The principles of our policy should be so also. All entanglements with that quarter of the globe should be avoided if we mean that peace and justice shall be the polar stars of the American societies." --Thomas Jefferson to J. Correa de Serra, 1820. "The interests of a nation, when well understood, will be found to coincide with their moral duties. Among these it is an important one to cultivate habits of peace and friendship with our neighbors. To do this we should make provisions for rendering the justice we must sometimes require from them. I recommend, therefore, to your consideration whether the laws of the Union should not be extended to restrain our citizens from committing acts of violence within the territories of other nations, which would be punished were they committed within our own." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft, Presidential Message, 1792. "No one nation has a right to sit in judgment over another." --Thomas Jefferson: Opinion, 1793. "We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations, as with individuals, our interests soundly calculated, will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties; and history bears witness to the fact, that a just nation is taken on its word, when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others." --Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural Address, 1805. =War & the Military= "We have already given... one effectual check to the dog of war, by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body, from those who are to spend to those who are to pay." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. "I believe this... the strongest government on earth. I believe it is the only one where every man, at the call of the laws, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. "We must train and classify the whole of our male citizens, and make military instruction a regular part of collegiate education. We can never be safe till this is done. --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1813. "I think the truth must now be obvious that our people are too happy at home to enter into regular service, and that we cannot be defended but by making every citizen a soldier, as the Greeks and Romans who had no standing armies; and that in doing this all must be marshaled, classed by their ages, and every service ascribed to its competent class. --Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1814. "Against great land armies we cannot attempt defense but by equal armies. For these we must depend on a classified militia, which will give us the service of the class from twenty to twenty-six, in the nature of conscripts, comprising a body of about 250,000, to be specially trained. This measure, attempted at a former session, was pressed at the last, and might, I think, have been carried by a small majority. But considering that great innovations should not be forced on a slender majority, and seeing that the general opinion is sensibly rallying to it, it was thought better to let it lie over to the next session, when, I trust, it will be passed." --Thomas Jefferson to John Armstrong, 1808. "In the beginning of our government we were willing to introduce the least coercion possible on the will of the citizen. Hence a system of military duty was established too indulgent to his indolence. This [War of 1812] is the first opportunity we have had of trying it, and it has completely failed; an issue foreseen by many, and for which remedies have been proposed. That of classing the militia according to age, and allotting each age to the particular kind of service to which it was competent, was proposed to Congress in 1805, and subsequently; and, on the last trial, was lost, I believe, by a single vote. Had it prevailed, what has now happened would not have happened. Instead of burning our Capitol, we should have possessed theirs in Montreal and Quebec. We must now adopt it, and all will be safe." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. Compilation copyrighted 1996 by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. Permission hereby granted to quote single excerpts separately.
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