| I find that the harder I work, the more
luck I seem to have.
There is not a truth existing which I fear... or would wish unknown
to the whole world.
A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every
government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on
A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent
of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.
A superintending power to maintain the Universe in its course and
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate
their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take
from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned - this is the sum
of good government.
Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience
to remain silent.
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though
the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to
be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their
equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would
Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is
a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy
of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.
An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.
At last now you can be what the old cannot recall and the young
long for in dreams, yet still include them all.
Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.
Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations
the most abhorrent is body without mind.
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.
Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.
Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our
Delay is preferable to error.
Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ
of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.
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 not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no
hook beneath it.
Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate
and define you.
Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the
only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.
Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of
body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to
Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks
and Romans, and must be that of every free state.
Every generation needs a new revolution.
Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his
own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of
the rich on the poor.
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government
those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations,
perverted it into tyranny.
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact,
every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God;
because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of
reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized
and armed militia is their best security.
For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.
Force is the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism.
Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies
and the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient:
why enter then as volunteers into those of another?
Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.
Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind
is filled with falsehoods and errors.
History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.
Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
How much have cost us the evils that never happened!
How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.
I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.
I am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines
of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy
which Greek and Roman leave to us.
I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America,
the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties
than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy
that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should
be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly
I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to
I cannot live without books.
I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel
myself infinitely the happier for it.
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless
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
I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every
form of tyranny over the mind of man.
I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that
the less we use our power the greater it will be.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied
corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a
trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society
but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened
enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the
remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the
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 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.
I think with the Romans, that the general of today should be a
soldier tomorrow if necessary.
I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that
his justice cannot sleep forever.
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.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much
liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.
I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the
more I have of it.
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization,
it expects what never was and never will be.
If God is just, I tremble for my country.
If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be
otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty
lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing,
and talk by the hour?
If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every
American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the
truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.
In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle,
stand like a rock.
In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it covers the natural
want of it, and ends by rendering habitual a substitute nearly equivalent
to the real virtue.
It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself,
to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may,
by change of circumstances, become his own.
It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods
or no God.
It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe
nothing, than to believe what is wrong.
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth
can stand by itself.
It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be
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.
It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished
without the forms of law than that he should escape.
It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation
which give you happiness.
It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall
actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend
ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it
was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.
Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are
as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because
health is worth more than learning.
Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual
body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty,
no happiness can be enjoyed by society.
Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are
Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not
constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw
Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.
My only fear is that I may live too long. This would be a subject
of dread to me.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results
from too much government.
My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries
of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair.
Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Never spend your money before you have earned it.
No duty the Executive had to perform was so trying as to put the
right man in the right place.
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which
carried him into it.
No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth,
and no culture comparable to that of the garden.
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
Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain
always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.
One man with courage is a majority.
Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where
Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what
road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power
first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life
in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good
conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
Peace and abstinence from European interferences are our objects,
and so will continue while the present order of things in America
Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and
I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.
Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling
alliances with none.
Politics is such a torment that I advise everyone I love not to
mix with it.
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if
there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than
that of blind-folded fear.
Resort is had to ridicule only when reason is against us.
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.
So confident am I in the intentions, as well as wisdom, of the
government, that I shall always be satisfied that what is not done,
either cannot, or ought not to be done.
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.
Speeches that are measured by the hour will die with the hour.
Taste cannot be controlled by law.
That government is best which governs the least, because its people
That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself
The advertisement is the most truthful part of a newspaper.
The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction,
is the first and only object of good government.
The Creator has not thought proper to mark those in the forehead
who are of stuff to make good generals. We are first, therefore,
to seek them blindfold, and then let them learn the trade at the
expense of great losses.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those
who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
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 good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with
the given fulcrum, moves the world.
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as
they are injurious to others.
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man
who reads nothing but newspapers.
The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two wordswhen
one will do.
The natural cause of the human mind is certainly from credulity
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government
to gain ground.
The second office in the government is honorable and easy; the
first is but a splendid misery.
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain
occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.
The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military
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.
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.
The world is indebted for all triumphs which have been gained by
reason and humanity over error and oppression.
There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are
virtue and talents.
There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.
There is not a truth existing which I fear... or would wish unknown
to the whole world.
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he
disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of
ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
To myself, personally, it brings nothing but increasing drudgery
and daily loss of friends.
To preserve our independence... We must make our election between
economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.
Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one
Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk
War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong;
and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.
We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty
in a featherbed.
We confide in our strength, without boasting of it; we respect
that of others, without fearing it.
We did not raise armies for glory or for conquest.
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.
We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right,
by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind
the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another
We never repent of having eaten too little.
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.
What an augmentation of the field for jobbing, speculating, plundering,
office-building and office-hunting would be produced by an assumption
of all the state powers into the hands of the general government.
When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a
When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count
to one hundred.
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the
government fears the people, there is liberty.
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe,
we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang
Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness
begins in his conduct.
Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with
their own government.
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.
Quotes by Thomas Jefferson