100 Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Liberty and Society

Learn more about America and the government through these Thomas Jefferson quotes.

As one of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson had many accomplishments during his time in office.

But, he’s mostly remembered as one of the people who worked hard for their independence from Great Britain.

Indeed, his contributions will never be forgotten. History has already seen his courage and fighting spirit. But today, you will also see how his words and ideas continue to impact the world significantly.

So, don’t miss out on this impressive collection by adding this to your must-read list now.

Learn about men, society, and government through the collection of Thomas Jefferson quotes below.

Start reading here.

Best Thomas Jefferson Quotes

1. “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”

2. “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.”

3. “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

4. “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”

5. “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.”

6. “When angry, count to 10 before you speak. If very angry, count to 100.”

7. “Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today.”

8. “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”

9. “It is always better to have no ideas than false ones. To believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.”

10. “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”

11. “Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.”

Famous Thomas Jefferson Quotes

12. “In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

13. “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

14. “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

15. “Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.”

16. “It is the great parent of science and of virtue, and that a nation will be great in both, always in proportion as it is free.”

17. “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

18. “He who knows best knows how little he knows.”

19. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

20. “We must dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.”

21. “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

22. “Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.”

23. “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

24. “One man with courage is a majority.”

25. “I find that he is happiest of whom the world says least, good or bad.”

Also read: Famous Quotes, Positive Quotes

Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Liberty

26. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

27. “Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.”

28. “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.”

29. “No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms.”

30. “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 the law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

31. “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

32. “The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.”

Also read: Alexander Hamilton Quotes, Benjamin Franklin Quotes

Insightful Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Government and Democracy

33. “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 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

34. “In every country where man is free to think and to speak, the difference of opinion will arise from difference of perception, and the imperfection of reason, but these differences, when permitted, as in this happy country, to purify themselves by free discussion, are but as passing clouds overspreading our land transiently, and leaving our horizon more bright and serene.”

35. “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government, that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”

36. “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.”

37. “It is error alone which needs the support of the government. Truth can stand by itself.”

38. “Experience hath shown that even under the best forms of government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

39. “Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.”

40. “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”

41. “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

Also read: Abraham Lincoln Quotes, Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

Short Thomas Jefferson Quotes to Arm You With Wisdom

42. “Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.”

43. “The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.”

44. “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

45. “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain.”

46. “Power is not alluring to pure minds.”

47. “He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it the second time.”

48. “Don’t talk about what you have done or what you are going to do.”

49. “A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.”

50. “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”

51. “Be polite to all, but intimate with few.”

52. “One travels more usefully when alone because he reflects more.”

53. “Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.”

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

55. “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”

56. “It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.”

Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Politics and Tyranny

57. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

58. “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power and teach us that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.”

59. “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”

60. “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

61. “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Enlightening Thomas Jefferson Quotes About Education and Knowledge

62. “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

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

64. “Every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.”

65. “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led.”

66. “The opinions and beliefs of men follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds.”

67. “I cannot live without books, but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.”

Thomas Jefferson Quotes to Help You Understand and Uncover the Truth

68. “Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.”

69. “There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.”

70. “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.”

71. “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.”

72. “Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.”

73. “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”

74. “He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”

Thomas Jefferson Quotes That Will Make You Think

75. “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.”

76. “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.”

77. “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.”

78. “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”

79. “We confide in our strength, without boasting of it, we respect that of others, without fearing it.”

80. “Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.”

81. “It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.”

82. “It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.”

83. “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 to the boisterous ocean of political passions.”

84. “How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.”

85. “The happiness of the domestic fireside is the first boon of heaven, and it is well it is so since it is that which is the lot of the mass of mankind.”

86. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. That His justice cannot sleep forever.”

87. “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.”

Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Friendship

88. “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.”

89. “I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.”

90. “Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.”

91. “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?”

Profound Thomas Jefferson Quotes

92. “War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrongs, and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.”

93. “I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.”

94. “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.”

95. “As our enemies have found, we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also.”

96. “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.”

More Thomas Jefferson Quotes to Expand Your Mind

97. “But as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is on one scale, and self-preservation on the other.”

98. “A machine for making revolutions is doing precisely the wrong thing at just the right time.”

99. “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

100. “I am satisfied and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.”

How Did Thomas Jefferson Influence Your Views About Freedom and Society?

It is evident in Thomas Jefferson’s words how he dreamed of his country someday being free. This thinking may seem simple, but fully trusting this idea is enough to spark a revolution.

By improving on himself and his skills, the people witnessed Thomas Jefferson’s patriotism and dedication to the country. He offered his whole life to learn about society, government, revolution, and how they all affect America as a whole. More than that, he empowered the masses to fight for their freedom.

In a way, Thomas Jefferson is inspiring not only in terms of the legacy he left after his death. He also showed that you could achieve anything that you dream of with determination and hard work.

Hopefully, these Thomas Jefferson quotes were able to motivate you to work for your goals. Like him, remember to be strong in whatever circumstance you face. Feel free to reread our list of Thomas Jefferson quotes whenever you need inspiration!

Which Thomas Jefferson quote is your favorite? Which of his contributions to society do you think is most admirable? Comment below!

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

You can find me on MuckRack and LinkedIn.

3 thoughts on “100 Thomas Jefferson Quotes on Liberty and Society”

  1. Amy: I love this concept and information. However, I should observe, you have several pictures purported to be of Thomas Jefferson and certain quotes. Some of these are in error. For example, you have a picture of Andrew Jackson, Templeton Franklin, and possibly others. So, I thought you might want to check the veracity of pictures you may want to use in future quotations, if veracity of information including portraits, is important to your efforts.

  2. Hey, Luke. Thank you so much for pointing that out. We’ve checked and already removed the wrong image. Again, thank you, Luke.

  3. These should be copied in very large print, hung on every wall in the halls of Congress and at least five of them read aloud by the Speaker every day Congress is in session.

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