Thomas Jefferson Quotes On Liberty & Democracy


You cannot discuss the birth of the United States without mentioning Thomas Jefferson. This Founding Father was a major proponent of democracy, in a time when monarchies ruled. The passion for liberty is felt best through Thomas Jefferson quotes.

Many once thought that the Continental Congress was wholly responsible for the Declaration of Independence. But, it was actually Thomas Jefferson who drafted the entire thing. This document declared the United States’ authority to have its own government. It highlighted the foundational democratic principles of the U.S., ones we still hold true today. 

No matter your perspective of Jefferson, there was no doubt he was instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. His quotes echo just how much he believed in freedom.

Thomas Jefferson quotes

Here are the Best Thomas Jefferson Quotes!

  1. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
  2. “Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.” 
  3. “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.”
  4. “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
  5. “This institution [University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
  6. “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it the second time.” 
  7. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.” 
  8. “Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.”
  9. “…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.” 
  10. “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.”
    File:Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800)(cropped).jpg
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  11. “How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.”
  12. “Mr. J. went to his apartments, the door of which is never opened but by himself and his retirement seems so sacred that I told him it was his sanctum sanctorum.”
  13. “But whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun.”
  14. “I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
  15. “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.”
  16. “…Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment . . . inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.” 
  17. “Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.”
  18. “We should then have only to include the north in our Confederacy, which would be of courts in the first war, and we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation”
  19. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” 
  20. “But as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”Thomas Jefferson
  21. “I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.”
  22. “I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless office.” 
  23. “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
  24. “When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.”
  25. “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden…But though an old man, I am but a young gardener.”
  26. “I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.”
  27. “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”
  28. “Take things always by their smooth handle.”
  29. “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.” 
  30. “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” 

Thomas Jefferson quotes

These Thomas Jefferson quotes are pieces of history. They remind us of America’s roots in democracy. If you know any American history buffs, share one of these Thomas Jefferson quotes – they may even know them already!

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