|Thomas Jefferson Quotes|
"You seem to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarcy...The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal...knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots." [Sept 28, 1820 letter to William Jarvis]
"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man." Thomas Jefferson
"Wishaupt believes that to promote this perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. That his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion, & by diffusing the light of his morality, to teach us to govern ourselves. His precepts are the love of god & love of our neighbor. And by teaching innocence of conduct, he expected to place men in their natural state of liberty & equality. He says, no one ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth. He believes the Free masons were originally possessed of the true principles & objects of Christianity, & have still preserved some of them by tradition, but much disfigured. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature are 'to enlighten men, to correct their morals & inspire them with benevolence.'" Thomas Jefferson (Note: This is obviously not the view of one who is accepting Christ as his Savior from sin, though it is the view of many who call themselves "Christian.")
"Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus." Thomas Jefferson
"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." Thomas Jefferson
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever." (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill. D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.] See also: Washington ed. viii, 404. EDITION: Ford ed., iii,267. DATE: 1782
"An eloquent preacher of your religious society, Richard Motte, in a discourse of much emotion and pathos, is said to have exclaimed aloud to his congregation, that he did not believe there was a Quaker, Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist in heaven, having paused to give his hearers time to stare and to wonder. He added, that in heaven, God knew no distinctions, but considered all good men as his children, and as brethren of the same family. I believe, with the Quaker preacher, that he who steadily observes those moral precepts in which all religions concur, will never be questioned at the gates of heaven, as to the dogmas in which they all differ. That on entering there, all these are left behind us, and the Aristides and Catos, the Penns and Tillotsons, Presbyterians and Baptists, will find themselves united in all principles which are in concert with the reason of the supreme mind. Of all the systems of morality, ancient and modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus." Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, ed. (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, pp.377-78, letter to William Canby on September 18, 1813.
"To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others." Thomas Jefferson, Bergh, Writings of Jefferson, Vol. X, p.380, letter to Benjamin Rush on April 21, 1803.
"But the greatest of all the reformers of the depraved religion of His own country, was Jesus of Nazareth." Thomas Jefferson, Bergh, Writings of Jefferson, Vol. XIV, p.220, letter to William Short on October 31, 1819.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We... solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states... And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." The Declaration of independence
btw: Chuck Colson said "Our founding fathers understood the pursuit of happiness to mean the pursuit of a virtuous life." Virtue is goodness. Jesus said, "There is none good but God." Paul indicated that righteousness is a free gift from God and that it is grace that does good works through us, not we ourselves. He also says that it is faith that gives access to grace, and that faith comes by hearing the word (literally, utterance) of God. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My Voice."
"Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens... are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion... No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively." Thomas Jefferson as written on panel 2 of the Jefferson Memorial
"Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion...." Thomas Jefferson in "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom," Section I
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish a law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state and on a general plan." Thomas Jefferson as written on panel 3 of the Jefferson Memorial
"But let them [members of the parliament of Great Britain] not think to exclude us from going to other markets to dispose of those commodities which they cannot use, or to supply those wants which they cannot supply. Still less let it be proposed that our properties within our own territories shall be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own. The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." Thomas Jefferson in "A Summary View of the Rights of British America"
"For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever...." Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia
"The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it...." Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia
"Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them." Thomas Jefferson from the Autobiography
"Preach, my dear sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people." Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, August 13, 1780?
"It is an axiom in my mind that our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves, and that too of the people with a certain degree of instruction. This it is the business of the state to effect, and on a general plan." Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, January 4, 1786
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." Thomas Jefferson as written on panel 4 of the Jefferson Memorial
"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the same coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1810
We commit our injuries to the even-handed justice of that Being, Who doth no wrong, earnestly beseeching Him to illuminate the councils, and prosper the endeavors of those to whom America hath confided her hopes, that through their wise direction we May again see reunited the blessings of liberty, property, and harmony with Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Address Virginia House of Burgesses to Lord Dunmore. EDITION: Ford ed., i, 459. DATE: June. 1775
We devoutly implore assistance of Almighty God to conduct us happily through this great conflict. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Declaration on Taking up Arms. EDITION: Ford ed., i, 476. DATE: July. 1775
It hath pleased the Sovereign Disposer of all human events to give to this [Revolution] appeal an issue favorable to the rights of the States. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Proposed Constitution for Virginia. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 441. EDITION: Ford ed., iii, 321. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1783
When the measure of their [the Slaves] tears shall be full, when their groans shall have involved heaven itself in darkness, doubtless, a God of justice will awaken to their distress, and by diffusing light and liberality among their oppressors, or, at length, by His exterminating thunder, manifest His attention to the things of this world, and that they are not left to the guidance of a blind fatality. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To M. de Meunier. EDITION: Washington ed. ix, 279. EDITION: Ford ed., iv, 185. PLACE: Paris DATE: 1786
May that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: First Inaugural Address. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 5. EDITION: Ford ed., viii, 6. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1801
They say, then, that it is more simple to believe at once in the eternal pre-existence of the world, as it is now going on, and may forever go on by the principle of reproduction which we see and witness, than to believe in the eternal pre-existence of an ulterior cause, or Creator of the world, a Being whom we see not and know not, of whose form, substance, and mode, or place of existence, or of action, no sense informs us, no power of the mind enables us to delineate or comprehend. On the contrary, I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the universe, in all its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces; the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere; animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles; insects, mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth; the mineral substances, their generation and uses; it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe, that there is in all this, design, cause, and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regeneration into new and other forms. We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power. to maintain the universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view; comets in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets, and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and were there no restoring power. all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To John Adams. EDITION: Washington ed. vii, 281. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1823
When we assemble together to consider the state of our beloved country, our just attentions are first drawn to those pleasing circumstances which mark the goodness of that Being from whose favor they flow, and the large measure of thankfulness we owe for His bounty. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Second Annual Message. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 15. EDITION: Ford ed., viii, 181. DATE: Dec. 1802
While we devoutly return thanks to the Beneficent Being who has been pleased to breath into our sister nations the spirit of conciliation and forgiveness, we are bound with peculiar gratitude to be thankful to Him that our own peace has been preserved. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: First Annual Message. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 6. EDITION: Ford ed., viii, 109. DATE: Dec. 1801
We are not in a world ungoverned by the laws and the power of a Superior Agent. Our efforts are in His hand, and directed by it; and He will give them their effect in His own time. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To David Barrow. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 456. EDITION: Ford ed., ix, 516. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1815
I offer my sincere prayers to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, that He may long preserve our country in freedom and prosperity. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Benjamin Waring. EDITION: Washington ed. iv, 379. PLACE: Washington DATE: March. 1801
I join in addressing Him whose Kingdom ruleth over all, to direct the administration of their affairs to their own greatest good. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Reply to Vermont Address. EDITION: Washington ed. iv, 419. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1801
We join you [Washington] in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching Him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you we address to Him our earnest prayers, that a life so beloved may be fostered with all His care; that your days may be happy as they have been illustrious; and that He will finally give you that reward which this world cannot give. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Address of Congress to General Washington. EDITION: Rayner's Life of Jefferson, 226.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the Common Father and Creator of man. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: R. to A. Danbury Baptists.
Whatever is to be our destiny, wisdom as well as duty, dictates that we should acquiesce in the will of Him whose it is to give and take away, and be contented in the enjoyment of those who are still permitted to be with us. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To John Page. EDITION: Washington ed. iv, 547. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1804
I shall need the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, Who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land, and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; Who has covered our infancy with His providence, and our riper years with His wisdom and power; and to whose goodness I ask you to join with me in supplications, that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Second Inaugural Address. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 45. EDITION: Ford ed., viii, 347. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1805
I bless the Almighty Being, Who, in gathering together the waters under the heavens into one place, divided the dry land of your hemisphere from the dry lands of ours, and said, at least be there peace. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Earl of Buchan. EDITION: Washington ed. iv, 493. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1803
We must await with patience the workings of an overruling Providence, and hope that that is preparing the deliverance of these, our suffering brethren [Slaves]. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To M. de Meunier. EDITION: Washington ed. ix, 279. EDITION: Ford ed., iv, 185. PLACE: Paris DATE: 1786
I had not supposed there was a family in this State [Virginia] not possessing a Bible, and wishing without having the means to procure one. When, in earlier life, I was intimate with every class, I think I never was in a house where that was the case. However, circumstances may have changed, and the [Bible] Society, I presume, have evidence of the fact. I, therefore, enclose you cheerfully, an order [* * *] for fifty dollars, for the purposes of the Society. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Samuel Greenhow. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 308. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1814
There never was a more pure and sublime system of morality delivered to man than is to be found in the four Evangelists. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Samuel Greenhow. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 309. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1814
As to tradition, if we are Protestants we reject all tradition, and rely on the Scripture alone, for that is the essence and common principle of all the Protestant churches. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 96. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
I propose [after retirement], among my first employments, to give to the Septuagint an attentive persual. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Charles Thomson. EDITION: Washington ed. v, 403. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 234. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1808
An atheist [* * *] I can never be. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To John Adams.
From the moment that a portion of my fellow citizens looked towards me with a view to one of their highest offices, the flood-gates of calumny have been opened upon me; not where I am personally known, and where their slanders would be instantly judged and suppressed from the general sense of their falsehood; but in the remote parts of the Union, where the means of detection are not at hand, and the trouble in an enquiry is greater than would suit the hearers to undertake. I know that I might have filled the courts of the United States with actions for these slanders, and have ruined, perhaps, many persons who are not innocent. But this would be no equivalent to the loss of character. I leave them, therefore, to the reproof of their own consciences. If these do not condemn them, there will yet come a day when the false witness will meet a Judge who has not slept over his slanders. If the Rev. Cotton Mather Smith, of Shena, believed this as firmly as I do, he would surely never have affirmed that "I had obtained my property by fraud and robbery; that in one instance, I had defrauded and robbed a widow and fatherless children of an estate and to which I was executor, of ten thousand pounds sterling by keeping the property and paying then in money at the nominal rate, when it was worth no more than forty for one; and that all this could be proved." Every title of it is fable; there not having existed a single circumstance of my life to which any part of it can hang. I never was executor but in two instances, both of which having taken place about the beginning of the Revolution, which withdrew me immediately from all private pursuits, I never meddled in either executorship. In one of the cases only, were there a widow and children. She was my sister. She retained and managed the estate in her own hands, and no part of it was ever in mine. In the other, I was a copartner and only received on a division the equal portion allotted to me. To neither of these executorships, therefore, could Mr. Smith refer. Again, my property is all patrimonial, except about seven or eight hundred [Col 2] pounds worth of lands, purchased by myself and paid for not, to widows and orphans, but to the very gentleman from whom I purchased. If Mr. Smith, therefore, thinks the precepts of the gospel intended for those who preach them as well for others, he will doubtless some day feel the duties of repentance, and of acknowledgment in such forms as to correct the wrong he has done. Perhaps he will have to wait till the passions of the moment have passed away. All this is left to his own conscience. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Uriah McGregory. EDITION: Washington ed. iv, 333. PLACE: Monticello DATE: Aug. 1800
The impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Statute of Religious Freedom. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 454. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 38. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1779
I cannot give up my guidance to the magistrate, because he knows no more of the way to heaven than I do, and is less concerned to direct me right than I am to go right. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 100. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
If it be said the magistrate may make use of arguments and so draw the heterodox to truth, I answer, every man has a commission to admonish, exhort, convince another of error. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 101. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
If the magistrate command me to bring my commodity to a public store-house, I bring it because he can indemnify me if he erred, and I thereby lose it; but what indemnification can he give one for the kingdom of heaven? Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 100. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
Each church being free, no one can have jurisdiction over another one, not even when the civil magistrate joins it. It neither acquires the right of the sword by the magistrate's coming to it, nor does it lose the rights of instruction or excommunication by his going from it. It cannot by the accession of any new member acquire jurisdiction over those who do not accede. He brings only himself, having no power to bring others. Suppose, for instance, two churches, one of Arminians. another of Calvinists in Constantinople, has either any right over the other? Will it be said the orthodox one has? Every church is to itself orthodox; to others erroneous or heretical. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 99. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
Civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Rev. Samuel Miller. EDITION: Washington ed. v, 237. EDITION: Ford ed., ix, 175. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1808
No power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with States, so far as it can be in any human authority. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Rev. Samuel Miller. EDITION: Washington ed. v, 237. EDITION: Ford ed., ix, 174. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1808
Heresy and false religion are withheld from the cognizance of Federal tribunals. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Kentucky Resolutions. EDITION: Washington ed. ix, 466.
Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts only in which all religions agree (for all forbid us to steal, murder, plunder, or bear false witness), and that we should not intermeddle with the particular dogmas in which all religions differ, and which are totally unconnected with morality. In all of them we see good men, and as many in one as another. The varieties in the structure and action of the human mind as in those of the body, are the work of our Creator, against which it cannot be a religious duty to erect the standard of uniformity. The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society, he has taken care to impress its percepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus, and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses. It is, then, a matter of principle with me to avoid disturbing the tranquillity of others by the expression of any opinion on the innocent questions on which we schismatize. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To James Fishback. EDITION: Washington ed. v, 471. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1809
Compulsion in religion is distinguished peculiarly from compulsion in every other thing. I May grow rich by art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion.
If thinking men would have the courage to think for themselves, and to speak what they think, it would be found they do not differ in religious opinions as much as is supposed. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To John Adams. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 191. EDITION: Ford ed., ix, 410. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1813
I not only write nothing on religion, but rarely permit myself to speak on it, and never but in a reasonable society. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Charles Clas.
The life and essence of religion consist in the internal persuasion or belief of the mind. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 101. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
No man has power to let another prescribe his faith. Faith is not faith without believing. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 101. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have, therefore, undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Second Inaugural Address.
I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume any authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Rev. Samuel Miller. EDITION: Washington ed. v, 236. EDITION: Ford ed., ix, 174. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1808
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Rev. Samuel Miller. EDITION: Washington ed. v, 237. EDITION: Ford ed., ix, 175. PLACE: Washington DATE: 1808 In the context of the time, religion would be a synonym for Christianity.
All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Proposed Va. Constitution. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 27. DATE: June. 1776
From the dissensions among Sects themselves arise, necessarily, a right of choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also. This establishes religious liberty. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 98. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
If I be marching on with my utmost vigor in that way which according to the sacred geography leads to Jerusalem straight, why am I beaten and ill used by others because my hair is not of the right cut; because I have not been dressed right; because I eat flesh on the road; because I avoid certain by-ways which seem to lead into briars; because among several paths I take that which seems shortest and cleanest; because I avoid travellers less grave and keep company with others who are more sour and austere; or because I follow a guide crowned with a mitre and clothed in white? Yet these are the frivolous things which keep Christians at war. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 100. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint. [* * *] All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who, being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone.Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Statute of Religious Freedom. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 454. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 237. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1779
I sincerely rejoice at the acceptance of our new Constitution by nine States. It is a good canvas, on which some strokes only want retouching. What these are, I think are sufficiently manifested by the general voice from north to south, which calls for a bill of rights. It seems pretty generally understood that this should go to [* * *] religion. [* * *] The declaration, that religious faith shall be unpunished, does not give impunity to criminal acts, dictated by religious error. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To James Madison. EDITION: Washington ed. ii, 445. EDITION: Ford ed., v, 45. PLACE: Paris DATE: July. 1788
One of the amendments to the Constitution [* * *] expressly declares, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press"; thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech and of the press; insomuch, that whatever violates either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Kentucky Resolutions. EDITION: Washington ed. ix, 466. EDITION: Ford ed., vii, 295. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1798
I am for freedom of religion, and against all manuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Elbridge Gerry.
Freedom of religion I deem [one of the] essential principles of our government and, consequently, [one] which ought to shape its administration. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: First Inaugural Address. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 4.
Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that [* * *] of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: R. to A. of Baptists.
Having ever been an advocate for the freedom of religious opinion and exercise, from no person, certainly, was an abridgment of these sacred rights to be apprehended less than from myself. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: R. to A. Pittsburg Methodists. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 142. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1808
The Constitution has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: R. to A. Pittsburg Methodists.
There are certain principles in which the constitutions of our several States all agree, and which all cherish as vitally essential to the protection of the life, liberty, property and safety of the citizen. [One is] Freedom of Religion, restricted only from acts of trespass on that of others. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To M. Coray. EDITION: Washington ed. vii, 323. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1823
Whatsoever is lawful in the Commonwealth, or permitted to the subject in the ordinary way, cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses; and whatsoever is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses and, therefore, prohibited by the laws ought not to be permitted to churches in their sacred rites. For instance, it is unlawful in the ordinary course of things, or in a private house, to murder a child. It should not be permitted any sect then to sacrifice children: it is ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill calves or lambs. They may, therefore, be religiously sacrificed, but if the good of the State required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during a siege, sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is the true extent of toleration. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 102. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
To me no information could be more welcome than that the minutes of the several religious societies should prove, of late, larger additions than have been usual, to their several associations. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: R. to A. New London Methodists. EDITION: Washington ed. viii, 147. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1809
Thomas Jefferson, I must ever believe that religion substantially good which produces an honest life. TITLE: To Miles King. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 388.
I consider [* * *] religion a supplement to law in the government of men. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Mr. Woodward. EDITION: Washington ed. vii, 339. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1824
I agree, too, that on all other occasions, the preacher has the right, equally with every other citizen, to express his sentiments, in speaking or writing, on the subjects of medicine, law, politics, &c., his leisure time being his own, and his congregation not obliged to listen to his conversation or to read his writings. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Mr. Wendover. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 446. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1815
Dispute as long as we will on religious tenets, our reason at last must ultimately decide, as it is the only oracle which God has given us to determine between what really comes from Him and the phantasms of a disordered or deluded imagination. When He means to make a personal revelation, He carries conviction of its authenticity to the reason He has bestowed as the umpire of truth. You believe you have been favored with such a special communication. Your reason, not mine, is to judge of this; and if it shall be His pleasure to favor me with a like admonition, I shall obey it with the same fidelity with which I would obey His known will in all cases. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Miles King. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 387. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1814
Hitherto I have been under the guidance of that portion of reason which God has thought proper to deal out to me. I have followed it faithfully in all important cases, to such a degree at least as leaves me without uneasiness; and if on minor occasions I have erred from its dictates, I have trust in Him who made us what we are, and I know it was not His plan to make us always unerring. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: To Miles King. EDITION: Washington ed. vi, 388. PLACE: Monticello DATE: 1814
It was the misfortune of mankind that during the darker centuries the Christian priests, following their ambition and avarice, combining with the magistrate to divide the spoils of the people, could establish the notion that schismatics might be ousted of their possessions and destroyed. This notion we have not yet cleared ourselves from. In this case no wonder the oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel, and raise disturbance, until their civil rights are fully restored to them, and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 103. PLACE: [none given] 1776?
How far does the duty of toleration extend? 1. No church is bound by the duty of toleration to retain within her bosom obstinate offenders against her laws. 2. We have no right to prejudice another in his civil enjoyments because he is of another church. If any man err from the right way, it is his own misfortune, no injury to thee; nor therefore art thou to punish him in the things of this life because thou supposeth he will be miserable in that which is to come -- on the contrary, according to the spirit of the gospel, charity, bounty, liberality are due him. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Notes on Religion. EDITION: Ford ed., ii, 99. 1776
The restoration of the rights of conscience [in Virginia by the Revised Code] relieved the people from taxation for the support of a religion not theirs; for the [Church of England] Establishment was truly of the religion of the rich, the dissenting sects being entirely composed of the less wealthy people. Thomas Jefferson, TITLE: Autobiography. EDITION: Washington ed. i, 49. EDITION: Ford ed., i, 69. PLACE: [none given] DATE: 1821 Unfortunately, at a later date, the whole of the United States became burdened with taxation for the support of a religion not theirs, namely, Secularism in it's many forms.
Spurious quotes and fictitious stories:
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology." This quote is sometimes attributed to a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a Dr. Wood, but no such letter is known to exist.
Note: There are many quotes on humanist, atheist, and otherwise antiChrist web sites that would indicate that Jefferson went through some period of time when Jefferson was drawn away from his faith in Christ. I have NOT been able to confirm or deny those quotes, so I haven't used them here--why add to the confusion that is already out on the internet. I would welcome any help in finding a credible source to either confirm or deny these types of quotes.
Some have claimed that Jefferson wrote a Bible without any of the miraculous works of Jesus, but they are misrepresenting the facts. (Thomas Jefferson, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904), House of Representatives, Document No. 755, 58th Congress, 2d Session.) What Jefferson did was to take the "red letter" portions of the New Testament and publish these teachings in order to introduce the Indians to Christian morality. Wallbuilders.org
There is one thing to notice about the liberals who claim that Jefferson was "uncomfortable with miracles." When creating a false sense of scholarship by quoting supporting documents, those documents have dates, in the recent past. None of them are authoritative. Just because a liberal scholar has a PhD does not give that liberal scholar authority to make up fabricated "facts." The "rules" of post modernism under which these so-called scholars operate make them more suspect than a godless and dishonest used car salesman.
A quote regarding the accusation against Thomas Jefferson that he had sired a son by a slave girl.
In fact, the original Nature article had reported that Thomas Woodson--the child that oral traditions claim was born of Sally when she was fifteen or so--the child born shortly after her return from France--was not sired by Jefferson:...
Nature, however, after exonerating Jefferson in the birth of Thomas Woodson, claimed that the DNA evidence proved that Eston Hemings--the youngest of Sally's children--was fathered by Thomas Jefferson. It was this story which swept the nation.
Yet, only eight weeks after releasing this story, Nature issued a retraction, admitting, "The title assigned to our study was misleading." Why? Because after proving that Jefferson had not fathered Woodson, it was revealed that their paternity conclusions about Jefferson fathering Eston were based on inaccurate and incomplete information, both scientifically and historically....
It is true that men of Randolph Jefferson's family could have fathered Sally Hemings' later children.
Although Nature's retraction and modification of its initial announcement was far more significant than its release, the retraction received little notice.
I know that I might have filled the courts of the United States with actions for these slanders, and have ruined perhaps many persons who are not innocent. But this would be no equivalent to the loss of [my own] character [by retaliating against them]. I leave them, therefore, to the reproof of their own consciences. If these do not condemn them, there will yet come a day when the false witness will meet a Judge who has not slept over his slanders. Thomas Jefferson, regarding the libelous claims against him regarding the slave girl, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. X, p. 171, to Uriah McGregory on August 13, 1800.
The Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission was made up of eminent historians and scholars; they released their report on April 12, 2001.
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
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.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. ~ Thomas Jefferson 1802
Last updated: Feb, 2011
Thomas Jefferson And The Intellect, The Human Mind
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America's Founding Fathers On Slavery
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