Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some Favorite Jeffersonian Quotes

"I have a strong attachment for the French Republic, more especially because they have founded their Constitution on principles similar to our own, and upon which alone, I think, free and lawful governments must be founded."

--Samuel Adams, letter to George Clinton December 24th, 1793

"It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment... Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties."

-- James Monroe; 'First Inaugural Address'

"The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all; 2. By witholding unnecessary opportunities from a few to increase the inequality of property by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches; 3. By the silent operation of laws which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort; 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expense of another; 5. By making one party a check on the other so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism."

-- James Madison; 'Parties' (1792)

"wealth is no proof of moral character; nor poverty of the want of it. On the contrary, wealth is often the presumptive evidence of dishonesty; and poverty the negative evidence of innocence."

-- Thomas Paine; 'Dissertation on the First Principles of Government' (1795)

"The protection of a man's person is more sacred than the protection of property; and besides this, the faculty of performing any kind of work or services by which he acquires a livelihood, or maintaining his family, is of the nature of property."

-- Thomas Paine; 'Dissertation on the First Principles of Government' (1795)

"But besides the danger of a direct mixture of Religion & civil Government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded agst in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations. The power of all corporations, ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses."

-- James Madison; 'Monopolies Perpetuities Corporations'

"[E]ach generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expence of other generations... that each generation should not only bear its own burdens, but that the taxes composing them, should include a due proportion of such as by their direct operation keep the people awake, along with those, which being wrapped up in other payments, may leave them asleep, to misapplications of their money."

-- James Madison, ('Universal Peace' from The National Gazette, February 2, 1792.)

“The Gothic idea that we are to look backwards instead of forwards for the improvement of the human mind, and to recur to the annals of our ancestors for what is most perfect in government, in religion and in learning, is worthy of those bigots in religion & government, by whom it has been recommended, & whose purposes it would answer.”

--Thomas Jefferson; letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly (Jan, 27, 1800)

"Too many of these stock-jobbers and king-jobbers have come into our legislature, or rather too many of our legislature have become stock-jobbers and king-jobbers."

-- Jefferson; letter to Marquis de Lafayette, (16 Jun 1792)

"I hope we shall... crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan (Nov. 16, 1916)

"The extremity of the evil must be in the case before us, where the absolute necessaries depend on the caprices of fancy and the caprice of a single fancy directs the fashion of the community. Here the dependence sinks to the lowest point of servility. We see a proof of it in the spirit of the address. Twenty thousand persons are to get or go without their bread as a wanton youth may fancy to wear his shoes with or without straps, or to fasten his straps with strings or with buckles. Can any despotism be more cruel than a situation in which the existence of thousands depends on one will, and that will on the most slight and fickle of all motives, a mere whim of the imagination."

-- James Madison, 'Fashion' National Gazette, 1792

"I have always believed that the best security for property, be it much or little, is to remove from every part of the community, as far as can possibly be done, every cause of complaint, and every motive to violence"

-- Thomas Paine; 'Dissertations on First Principles of Government' (1795)

"May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God."

--Thomas Jefferson (to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826)

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"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestible unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." -- Constitution of Massachusettes (1780)