Jefferson_Portrait Thomas Jefferson
Politics & Government

Quotations from the Writings of Thomas Jefferson


"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every
form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

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    Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States, was this nation's greatest champion of representative democracy and the rights of man. He was our most eloquent spokesman on the founding principles of American self-government. As he himself said, "I know my own principles to be pure and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known and therefore willingly express them to everyone. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people." (letter to Samuel Smith, 1798)

        Now with over 2,700 excerpts from Jefferson's writings, this site contains much more than just a collection of quotations arranged by topic. It provides a fair statement of the complete political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. The excerpts were chosen, not for their historical significance, but as an expression of Jefferson's PRINCIPLES of government that have relevance for us today. Much of Jefferson's thought is highly quotable, and a special download section is made available for those selections most useful for writing and speaking. Jefferson as much as any of the Founding Fathers expressed with eloquence the basic principles of our democracy, and the following description applies well to those principles as found in his own writings:

      "The essential principles of our Government... form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety." --1st Inaugural Address, 1801.

        Visitors are invited to download the selection of quotations, to use them in speaking and writing, and to list this source on their own Web Site.

      Compiled and Edited by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.
      Metairie, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

    *The famous quotation at the top of this page is from a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush of September 23, 1800. ME 10:173

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    Created 12/21/95. Revised frequently.


    The Jefferson Literary & Debating Society
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