Thomas Jefferson: Sayings

…the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest and our people united…the people…will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights.

Notes on Virginia, Query XVII


Our legislators are not sufficiently appraised of the rightful limits of their power: that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the natural rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought restrain him…The trial of every law by one of these texts would lessen much the labors of our legislators and lighten equally our municipal codes

To Francis W. Gilmer, Monticello, February 6, 1795


The tyranny of the legislatures is most formidable dread at present and will be for many years. That of the executive will come in its turn, but it will be at a remote period.

To James Madison, Paris, March 15, 1789

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