wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government.
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no society is so precious as that of one’s own family.
as far as I can judge from the experiments which have been made, to give liberty to, or rather, to abandon persons whose habits have been formed in slavery is like abandoning children.
I will put off till my return from America all of them except Bacon, Locke and Newton, whose pictures I will trouble you to have copied for me: and as I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived.
we have spent the prime of our lives in procuring them the precious blessing of liberty. let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science & of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both always in proportion as it is free.
I am much indebted to you for your attention to my commission about the books, and am well pleased that those which went above the prices I noted, were not purchased. sensible that I labour grievously under the malady of Bibliomanie, I submit to the rule of buying only at reasonable prices, as to...
Altho’ the times are big with political events, yet I shall say nothing on that or any subject but the innocent ones of botany & friendship.
the execution of the laws is more important than the making them.
I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, ‘that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living:’ that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. the portion occupied by any individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, & reverts to the society.
I have found Mr. Jefferson a man of infinite information and sound Judgement, becoming gravity, and engaging affability mark his deportment. His general abilities are such as would do honor to any age or Country.
the ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, that we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. it takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.
we are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather-bed.
a good citizen should take his stand where the public authority marshals him.
do not neglect your music, it will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life to you.
the happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the bosom of my family.
my method is to make two observations a day, the one as early as possible in the morning, the other from 3. to 4. aclock, because I have found 4. aclock the hottest & day light the coldest point of the 24. hours. I state them in an ivory pocket book in the following form, & copy them out...
interesting occupations are essential to happiness: indeed the whole art of being happy consists in the art of finding emploiment.
Jefferson is a slender man; has rather the air of stiffness in his manner; his clothes seem too small for him; he sits in a lounging manner, on one hip commonly, and with one of his shoulders elevated much above the other; his face has a sunny aspect; his whole figure has a loose, shackling air....
the study of the law is useful in a variety of points of view. it qualifies a man to be useful to himself, to his neighbors, & to the public.
in political œconomy I think Smith’s wealth of nations the best book extant.
in the science of government Montesquieu’s spirit of laws is generally recommended. it contains indeed a great number of political truths; but also an equal number of heresies: so that the reader must be constantly on his guard.
Locke’s little book on government is perfect as far as it goes.
Jefferson transgresses on the extreme of stiff gentility or lofty gravity.
I have always believed it better to be settled on a small farm, just sufficient to furnish the table, and to leave one’s principal plantations free to pursue the single object of cropping without interruption.
Perhaps you think you have nothing to say to me ... there is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me ... Write then my dear daughter punctually on your day