Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He is mostly remembered as a draftsman of the Declaration of Independence. As an inspirational symbol, thought-provoking Thomas Jefferson quotes will enrich your perspective, make you mentally stronger and embrace your full life.
His popular slogan was “With Jefferson, we shall have peace, therefore the friends of peace will vote for Jefferson.”
If you’re searching for famous quotes about life that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of Theodore Roosevelt quotes, best George Washington quotes, and wise quotes by Abraham Lincoln.
Thomas Jefferson Quotes
I cannot live without books. ― Thomas Jefferson
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. ― Thomas Jefferson
I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. ― Thomas Jefferson
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. ― Thomas Jefferson
History, in general, only informs us what bad government is. ― Thomas Jefferson
I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. ― Thomas Jefferson
If you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. ― Thomas Jefferson
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ― Thomas Jefferson
Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom. ― Thomas Jefferson
The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. ― Thomas Jefferson
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. ― Thomas Jefferson
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. ― Thomas Jefferson
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. ― Thomas Jefferson
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. ― Thomas Jefferson
One man with courage is a majority. ― Thomas Jefferson
The art of life is the art of avoiding pain. ― Thomas Jefferson
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. ― Thomas Jefferson
I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale. ― Thomas Jefferson
Take care of your cents: dollars will take care of themselves. ― Thomas Jefferson
Famous Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Life, Government, and Religion
- I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past. ― Thomas Jefferson
- The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ― Thomas Jefferson
- The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. ― Thomas Jefferson
- The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. ― Thomas Jefferson
- On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock. ― Thomas Jefferson
- The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. ― Thomas Jefferson
- He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it the second time. ― Thomas Jefferson
- No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. ― Thomas Jefferson
- We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery. ― Thomas Jefferson
- But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine. ― 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
- Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry…― Thomas Jefferson
- When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred. ― Thomas Jefferson
- 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 rights of the individual. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Never put off to tomorrow what you can do to-day. ― Thomas Jefferson
- To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D’Alembert, D’Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. ― Thomas Jefferson
- When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ― Thomas Jefferson
Powerful Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Revolution, Liberty, Education & Pursuit of Happiness
- The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their 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. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Be polite to all, but intimate with few. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Don’t talk about what you have done or what you are going to do. ― Thomas Jefferson
- All, too, will 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 law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give. ― Thomas Jefferson
- A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference. ― Thomas Jefferson
- 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
- Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Never buy a thing you do not want, because it is cheap, it will be dear to you. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. ― Thomas Jefferson
- He who knows best knows how little he knows. ― Thomas Jefferson
- A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, 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. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I know no safe depository 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
Inspirational Thomas Jefferson Quotes
- How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another. ― Thomas Jefferson
- There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. ― Thomas Jefferson
- 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. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding…― Thomas Jefferson
- I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial. ― Thomas Jefferson
- When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I agree with yours of the 22d that a professorship of Theology should have no place in our institution. but we cannot always do what is absolutely best. those with whom we act, entertaining different views, have the power and the right of carrying them into practice. truth advances, & error recedes step by step only; and to do to our fellow-men the best in our power, we must lead where we can, follow where we cannot, and still go with them, watching always the favorable moment for helping them to another step. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more. ― Thomas Jefferson
- To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry. ― Thomas Jefferson
- How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy! ― Thomas Jefferson
- 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
- Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. ― Thomas Jefferson
- Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations…entangling alliances with none. ― Thomas Jefferson
- I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. ― Thomas Jefferson
- The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground. ― Thomas Jefferson
- When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. ― Thomas Jefferson
- The only security of all is in a free press. ― Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson Quotes Pursuit of Happiness
- Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
- it is the great parent of science & of virtue: and that a nation will be great in both, always in proportion as it is free.
- Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
- The expedition of Messrs. Lewis & Clarke for exploring the river Missouri, & the best communication from that to the Pacific ocean, has had all the success which could have been expected.
- Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
- I agree with you that it is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities, which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country.
- Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
- I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.
- We never repent of having eaten too little.
- Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.
- Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
- I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books, to be lent to the people of the country under regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.
- How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
- When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
- I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.