Extract from Thomas Jefferson’s “Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge”

experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes ... whence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance

Printed text (Dixon & Holt, 1784); no manuscript copy survives. Published in PTJ, 2:526–35.
Date Range
Date
December 1, 1778 to December 31, 1778
Collection
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson
Repository
Dixon & Holt, Richmond, 1784
Quote Category