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Quotes from Thomas Jefferson

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

I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object. [Jefferson in a letter to John Adams, 1815]

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” [Origin uncertain. How it came to be attributed to Thomas Jefferson is unclear.]

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

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. [Letter to Thomas Cooper, 1802]

Delay is preferable to error. [Letter to George Washington, 1792]

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

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'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

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

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.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

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

When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.

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.

There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.

When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property.

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

The wise know their weakness too well to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows.

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.