Thomas Jefferson is one of the wisest most accomplished men who ever lived. Not perfect, but amazing. He was a founding father of America, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the third president of the United States, and foe of oppressive government. He and John Adams, another brilliant founding father and our second president, both died on the 4th of July–such a key day for them and America. The two men had a volatile relationship, but were fast friends in their later years.
Adams’s last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” But he was mistaken, Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 82.
In these challenging times, it’s prudent to look back at those who helped create this great nation and learn from their wisdom. Some quotes from Jefferson:
Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. ~Thomas Jefferson
~I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
~One man with courage is a majority.
~Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
~Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.
~He who knows best knows how little he knows.
~It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.
~It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.
~If God is just, I tremble for my country.
~I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.
~I cannot live without books.
~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.
~I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.
~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.
~I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
~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.
~I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.
~My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
~No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.
~Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
~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.
~Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very fast.
~When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
~There is not a truth existing which I fear… or would wish unknown to the whole world.
~Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.
~Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.
~To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
~That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.
~The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.
~The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.
~The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.
~The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.
~Politics is such a torment that I advise everyone I love not to mix with it.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.
~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.
~Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
*Jefferson’s beloved home and gardens of Monticello