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Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Madame de Tessé, 20 Mar. 1787 [Quote]

would you believe Madam, that in [this 18th. centur]y, in France, und[er the reign of Louis XVI, they] are [at this mo]ment pulling down the circular wall of this superb remain [to pave a ro]ad? and that too from a hill which is itself an entire mass of stone just as fit, & more accessible. a...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, 30 Aug. 1803 [Quote]

disapproving myself of transferring the honors and veneration for the great birthday of our republic, to any individual, or of dividing them with individuals, I have declined letting my own birthday be known, & have engaged my family not to communicate it. this has been the uniform answer to...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 11 June 1807 [Quote]

To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted so as to be most useful, I should answer ‘by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only.’ yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers ... nothing can now be believed which is seen in a...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 27 Mar. 1815 [Quote]

As to what is to be said of myself, I of course am not the judge. but my sincere wish is that the faithful historian, like the able Surgeon, would consider me in his hands, while living, as a dead subject: that the same judgment may now be expressed which will be rendered hereafter, so far as my...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 10 Aug. 1815 [Quote]

On the subject of the history of the American revolution, you ask who shall write it? who can write it? and who ever will be able to write it? nobody; except merely it’s external facts. all it’s councils, designs and discussions, having been conducted by Congress with closed doors, and no member,...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 5 May 1816 [Quote]

You express a wish and a hope that I may have been writing memoirs of myself. while in public life, my whole time has been absorbed by the duties that laid me under; and now, when the world imagines I have nothing to do, I am in a state of as heavy drudgery as any office of my life ever subjected...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 20 June 1816 [Quote]

as to federal slanders, I never wished them to be answered, but by the tenor of my life, half a century of which has been on a theatre at which the public have been spectators, and competent judges of it’s merit. their approbation has taught a lesson, useful to the world, that the man who fears...

Extract from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 9 Aug. 1816 [Quote]

May We be “a Barrier against the Returns of Ignorance and Barbarism”! “What a Colossus Shall We Be”! But will it not be of Brass Iron and Clay? Your Taste is judicious in likeing better the dreams of the Future, than the History of the Past. Upon this Principle I prophecy that you and I Shall...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Josephus B. Stuart, 10 May 1817 [Quote]

You say I must go to writing history. while in public life, I had not time: and now that I am retired, I am past the time. to write history requires a whole life of observation, of enquiry, of labor and correction. it’s materials are not to be found among the ruins of a decayed memory. at this...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 8 Sept. 1817 [Quote]

I have lately recieved a pamphlet of extreme interest from France. it is De Pradt’s historical recital of the first return of Louis XVIII to Paris. it is precious for the minutiae of the proceedings which it details, and for their authenticity, as from an eye witness. being but a pamphlet, I...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Jeremiah Greenleaf, 5 July 1819 [Quote]

presents his compliments to mr Greenleaf and his thanks for the pamphlet on grammar which came to hand yesterday. the torpor of age and drudgery of letterwriting give him little time to read, and little power of profiting by the advances & improvements in every branch of science. he rejoices...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Destutt de Tracy, 26 Dec. 1820 [Quote]

our right may be doubted of mortgaging posterity for the expenses of a war in which they will have a right to say their interests were not concerned. it is incumbent on every generation to pay it’s own debts as it goes. a principle which, if acted on, would save one half the wars of the world.

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, 23 Nov. 1821 [Quote]

My confidence, as you kindly observed, has been often abused by the publication of my letters for the purposes of interest or vanity; and it has been to me the source of much pain to be exhibited before the public in forms not meant for them. I recieve letters expressed in the most friendly terms...

Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Robert Walsh, 5 April 1823 [Quote]

do not think a biography should be written, or at least not published, during the life of the person the subject of it. it is impossible that the writer’s delicacy should permit him to speak as freely of the faults or errors of a living, as of a dead character. there is still however a better...