Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thomas Jefferson Quotes...

I recently received one of those viral e-mails.

This particular e-mail, by using selective quotes, tried to imply that if Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be aligned with contemporary neocons and right-wing fundamentalist christian conservatives. Needless to say, I couldn't help but respond.

So, I thought I would share that response, as a new blog post...

Hi, While I admit to being surprised, I am also pleased that you sent me this e-mail featuring quotes by Thomas Jefferson. A man whose scholarly intellect I have long admired. Even if some of his best ideas may have come from the Magna Carta circa 1215, he and his colleagues showed the wisdom to adopt and embrace them.
Which is not to say that I'm completely on board with all of his thoughts, teachings and philosophies, but I do have a great deal of respect for the man.

I was especially happy to see one of my favorite quotes...

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on, would save one-half the wars of the world." -- Thomas Jefferson

I remember reflecting on the wisdom of that quote when George W. Bush led us into two wars and yet insisted on lowering taxes not once, not twice, but three times. The only President in the history of our Republic to lower taxes while committing us to war. The consequence of which was to spend the entire budget surplus he inherited and turn it into a massive new deficit.
Yet Republicans still claim, with a straight face no less, to be Fiscally Conservative.

The fact is, true health care reform, with a public option, could be paid for a few times over with what we spend on unnecessary wars. The irony of this, of course, escapes them. (much like Bin Laden did)

It seems to me, the choice is clear...

Health Care or Warfare,
The Common Good or The Common Destruction.
Anyway, I digress. (as usual)

So back to Jefferson.

As anyone who has ever read the Jefferson version of the Bible, or "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" as it is formally titled can tell you, Jefferson was a bit of an agnostic, if not an atheist, as well as a pacifist. Jefferson believed Christ to be a peace loving man, and a wise & moral teacher. He saw no evidence however to support the notion, that Jesus was the son of God.
Now, please permit me to share some of my favorite Jefferson quotes.

Thomas Jefferson on war...

"I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Conquest and or war with other nations is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government." -- Thomas Jefferson
"If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest." -- Thomas Jefferson
"I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another." -- Thomas Jefferson
"The most successful war seldom pays for its losses." -- Thomas Jefferson
"The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force." -- Thomas Jefferson
"War as an instrument, is entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on poverty and the distribution of wealth...

"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." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on God, religion and such...

"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 blind-folded fear." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion and question the existence of a God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition ,Christianity, one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded on fables and mythology.  The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being and his father, and the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."--Thomas Jefferson 
"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty." -- Thomas Jefferson
"If God is just, I tremble for my country." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced 1 inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and terror all over the earth." -- Thomas Jefferson

"I'm for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one religion over another." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on books and reading...

"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital." -- Thomas Jefferson
This - as opposed to George W. Bush who once famously said "I don't really like books, I guess that's because I hate reading".

Thomas Jefferson on the censorship of books... (Sarah Palin, please take note)

"I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on big corporations...
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on hate, intolerance, individual freedoms, homosexuality, and what we now call alternative lifestyles...

"I never will, by any act, word or deed bow to the religious shrine of intolerance." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Taste cannot be controlled by law. We must resist at all costs any attempt to regulate our individual freedoms and to legislate our personal moralities." -- Thomas Jefferson

And, of course, then there's this...

"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." -- Thomas Jefferson

It's perhaps worth noting , I have installed "Quote of the Day" gadgets on my Google home page.
So that every day I'm greeted with quotes from, among others, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.
I also, as you may have noticed, have installed an "Atheist Quote of The Day" gadget on this blog page.
What fascinates me is how often The quote here is from, among others, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

Just Thinking...

Please feel free to comment below or email me direct at and your comment will be posted.


  1. Sounds like Thomas Jefferson was a really bright man and obviously way ahead of his time. - Danny Martinez

  2. (part 1 of 2)

    Isn't it amazing that the supposed results of war are to be peace? This makes no sense, it doesn't even stand to reason, but then again, very little religious doctrine is based on reason.

    Were we to take some of Jefferson's thoughts and quotes and distill them into a simple rule for living it could be easily followed.

    Stay home, mind your own business, read a book and clean up your own damn mess.

    Though I am not a man of any formal education and were it not for Eddie would have little idea of what goes on in the world of politics, I certainly am educated enough to realize that religion has been at the root of all wars throughout history.

    It escapes me that an idea such as religion, whose believers would like to say is supposed to unite mankind; actually does little more than propagate separation, segregation, miscegenation, domination, ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and hate.

    I have witnessed war only as an observer in the stands. I was born in 1957 which was a great year to be a Chevrolet but also conveniently allowed me to slip through the chronological cracks of controversy, post WWII, post Korea, a year or two too young for Viet Nam and a bit long in the tooth by the time we fell under the reign of the House of Bush so I was spared the desert climes.

    My wars were fought at home as a gay man, coming out, liberation, acceptance, both self-acceptance and social-acceptance, and then of course there was AIDS, a battle that has been a part of my life for close to thirty years now.

    I am a horrible traveler, I hate to get on planes and go jetting off to foreign lands, but I am fascinated by cultures not my own (ie; White Trash/Hillbilly) so when I have an opportunity to meet a person from land afar I am generally well armed with questions regarding their heritage and customs. I try to be sensitive and tactful with my enquiries, at least as tactful as I am capable of being but I do find that if I have had sexual congress with the person first it does allow me to ask certain questions that may be deemed a bit inappropriate were our encounter merely a platonic handshake.

  3. (part 2 of 2)

    It was a couple of years ago, upon my first trip to Hawaii that the scourge of religion truly hit home with me.

    I had spent a wonderful balmy afternoon in the loving arms and company of a particularly lovely and beautiful man of Polynesian heritage. We spent several hours "knowing" one another and we both "begat" considerable pleasure from the experience.

    This man seemed to be particularly savvy and proud of his Polynesian lineage and had already shown me that he was wont to share it, his comfort with his body and sexuality were quite evident, so I took the opportunity to become informed of certain Island ways.

    I asked him about the attitude of Polynesians towards homosexuality. He immediately responded that the Polynesians in the past actually had no concept of homosexuality, that love was love and sex was sex and that it was simply a non-issue, that most Polynesian Kings of the past had at their disposal a number of partners for pleasure, both female and male, that this was quite acceptable.
    He advised that it was not until the arrival of White People, (read Christians) that sexuality, much less the genders of its participants took on any meaning.

    While this made perfect sense to me I was rather dumbfounded to think that what Christians would see as a culture in need of “salvation” was already so far advanced in their freedom of thought, reasonable thought at that. To think that these "savages" were so evolved while so many Christians are conducting themselves in sexual accordance with rules issued by men that are sworn to celibacy.

    These "primitive" people were able to realize that love and pleasures of the body were not ruled by a supreme being that has nothing better to do than monitor the activity of its followers genitals.

    I hardly think these people needed salvation seems to me that they were doing quite fine without outside help.

    Isn’t it amusing that most religious folks are so concerned with sodomy when they in fact have their heads up their own asses.... think about it!

  4. LOL - Wow what a comment! In Two Parts no less!!

    That deserves some kind of an award.

    I absolutely love it!!!

  5. EDDIE, Great comments by "Billy" - Who is he? Do I Know Him?

  6. Billy is one of my oldest and dearest friends. He lives in San Francisco now, but he used to live here in Miami. In fact, he used to work with us at O'ZONE, but that was before your time.

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  11. Great book on Jefferson " Jefferson Himself" edited by Bernard Mayo copyright 1942 .Library of Congress # 70-87871 University of Virginia Press This is a computation of letters on diverse subjects , written by Jefferson .

  12. Supper quotes compilation. I have collected many quotes from you. Thanks for sharing!!!