50 Thomas Jefferson Quotes About Life, Liberty and Freedom

In addition to being known as the Father of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was a lawyer, philosopher and diplomat. He served in numerous political roles, including governor of Virginia, Secretary of State and two terms as the third President of the United States. It's no wonder we were able to easily pull together 50 Thomas Jefferson quotes filled with inspiration and wisdom.

When he attended the College of William and Mary, Jefferson studied literature, philosophy, law and science. He read and spoke several foreign languages, including French, Latin, Italian and Spanish. Perhaps his formal training was the reason why he was chosen to write the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which opposed Great Britain’s rule over our country's 13 colonies. He was also instrumental in purchasing Louisiana from France.

Aside from politics, Jefferson was a studious man who enjoyed architecture, animals, music, archaeology, gardening and art. Some have labeled him a Renaissance polymath, which is someone who has vast knowledge of an array of subjects. He was a lifelong learner who valued education and went on to found the University of Virginia.

While his life was a bit of a paradox (a slave owner but an abolitionist), his quotes embody his passion for education, liberty, government, law and leadership. And, of course, he loved a good book and a glass of wine. Cheers to that! Here are 50 Thomas Jefferson quotes that demonstrate his love for his country and life.

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50 Thomas Jefferson Quotes



1. “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.”

2. “Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.”

3. “My principle is to do whatever is right, and leave consequences to him who has the disposal of them.”

4. “I cannot live without books, but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object."

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5. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

6. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

7. “All should be laid open to you without reserve, for there is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.”

8. “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”

9. “Science is my passion; politics, my duty.”

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10. “If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.”

11. “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

12. “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

13. “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.”

14. “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.”

15. “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."

16. "When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred."

17. “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.”

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18. “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.”

19. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

20. “When we see ourselves in a situation which must be endured and gone through, it is best to make up our minds to it, meet it with firmness, and accommodate everything to it in the best way practicable. This lessens the evil; while fretting and fuming only serves to increase your own torments.”

21. “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

22. “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”

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23. “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

24. “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”

25. “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.”

26. “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.”

27. “But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life; & thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine. I will recur for proof to the days we have lately passed. On these indeed the sun shone brightly.”

28. “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

29. "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

30. “I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more."

31. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

32. “Those who expect to be both ignorant and free, expect what never was and never will be.”

33. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

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34. “My god! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself.”

35. “I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

36. “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”

37. “Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

38. “We confide in our strength, without boasting of it; we respect that of others, without fearing it.”

39. "Never spend your money before you have earned it."

40. "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.”

41. “The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”

42. “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”

43. “God grant that men of principle shall be our principal men.”

44. “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.”

45. “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.”

46. “He who knows best knows how little he knows.”

47. “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”

48. “Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do."

49. “Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.”

50. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

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