Thomas Jefferson is one of the most iconic figures in American history. He was an integral part of the founding fathers and helped shape the United States as we know it today.

From his famous declaration that “all men are created equal” to his inspiring call for a “revolution of the mind,” Jefferson’s words reveal an enduring wisdom about justice, faith, freedom and democracy.

His words still resonate with us and offer powerful insights into his perspective on life, government, and humanity. Here’s a collection of some of his best quotes that will inspire and motivate you. Enjoy!

  1. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  2. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  3. “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
  4. “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  5. “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  6. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  7. “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”― Thomas Jefferson
  8. “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  9. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  10. “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  11. “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  12. “Most bad government has grown out of too much government.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  13. “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
  14. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  15. “But I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  16. “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
  17. “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  18. “I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  19. “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  20. “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  21. “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
  22. “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
  23. “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  24. “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
  25. “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
  26. “Take care of your cents; dollars will take care of themselves.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  27. “It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  28. “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  29. “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  30. “Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  31. “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.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  32. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  33. “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  34. “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  35. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  36. “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  37. “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  38. “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it the second time.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  39. “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  40. “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  41. “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  42. “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and opressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  43. “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
  44. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  45. “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  46. “Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  47. “Never spend your money before you have earned it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  48. “An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  49. “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  50. “Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  51. “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  52. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.Thomas Jefferson
  53. “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… {Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823}” ― Thomas Jefferson
  54. “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
  55. “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  56. “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
  57. “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
  58. “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  59. “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  60. “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry…” ― Thomas Jefferson
  61. “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
  62. The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  63. “There is not a truth existing which I fear… or would wish unknown to the whole world.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  64. “Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight. But the enormities of the times in which I have lived, have forced me to take a part in resisting them, and to commit myself on the boisterous ocean of political passions.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  65. “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  66. “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” ―Thomas Jefferson
  67. “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of American Independence Of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  68. “Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.” ― Thomas Jefferson
  69. “The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.” ― Thomas Jefferson

Thousands More Quotes For Any Occasion

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