Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President

Famous Thomas Jefferson Quote

“When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Ratings and Comments

Chris, Oxford, MS

It's very interesting how things have not changed hundreds of years later.

Andy, Portland, OR

So true. One of my favorites. And I think everyone knows which one we have today.

Slim, Dover, NH

Live free or Die

Kip Webster, Ringwood

If people took the time to read Jefferson's quotes on government and freedom - along with the thoughts of the other Founding Fathers - they would be shocked and frightened to see how radically different our government has become, from what it was intended to be.

DJ, Salt Lake City, Ut

Let me think for a minute. IRS, FBI, CIA, NSA, US Attorneys, Assistant US Attorneys, Congressional Hearings, SEC, FDA, OSHA, DEA, ATF, Customs, Secret Service etc. infinitum. Water Boarding isn't torture. Wiretaps without warrants are OK. At the present time; Tyranny 16, Liberty 0

N..., Clearwater, fl

Welcome to the United States of Tyranny! Where the minority and special interests and ignorance rules. Don't believe me? Check out the goals and objectives of Child Protective Services and Family Court. Both are government run monsters that destroy the American Family. If I still have not made my point, check out the opinion of Dr. Stephen Baskerville on this matter.

anon, cville

Give me liberty or give me death

Alan, Inverness,Fl.

How true this is!

J Carlton, Calgary

As DJ points out...we all live in fear of the alphabet gangs. In fact we're not even sure who they're responsible to anymore. But it seems that fear is doing what it naturally's turning to anger.

jim k, Austin,tx

Well said DJ and Carlton.

Mike, Norwalk

We hold these truths to be self evident, he that forgets history is doomed to relive it.

Angela, Adairsville

This is exactly what we need today. We should never fear the government, but the gov't should fear the people. We are the ones that vote and place you in the gov't to work for We the People.

Elizabeth, Astoria, NY

The Master spoke! A simple quote that portrays a reality that is seen by very few today.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    9/10/10

Vive la France...... to the Bastille..... N. please stop this vilifying of minorities that's not what this blog is about. The media does a good job of that without our help. And as for special interests - EVERYTHING IS A SPECIAL INTEREST - argue the points not the media sound bytes

Lyndell, Tok, AK

I think some are having a rude awakening. Having been asleep with complacency,diversion, or whatever, and waking to find that the chains are already forged and attached to both legs and an arm is quite unnerving. But realizing that there is still one arm left free, let us not squander it by bickering among ourselves who is to blame: let us get busy about the work of freeing the body so we can enjoy full LIBERTY once again!

Johann Hollar, St Paul

Thomas Jefferson is one of the greatest leaders in America. It's a pity there aren't more like him, just a bunch of godless capitalists.

E Archer, NYC

Funny how the government's self-appointed purpose is to make us all 'secure' when in fact their policies and bureaus are established to protect 'them' and enforce their theft of our labors and property. The best security would be to close down these agencies of tyranny, so that we can hang a couple politicians per year for their crimes against the people.

Mike, Norwalk

If it wasn't enough to scare the people into slavery (income tax), where the foreign despot owns the labors of the once noble sovereign, now the unconstitutional IRS has been openly empowered not to follow any rules (not even their own). Even if an individual has perfectly legal (not lawful - poetic license to use the term 'legal' very loosely) tax deductions and maneuvers, the IRS can declare that all such lacks 'economic substance' under the new Economic Substance Doctrine. WHAT ? ? ? What lacks more economic substance than Federal Reserve Notes (the only economic substance there is due to threat, duress, and ignorance). The fear factor has grown and now is additionally based on vile vermin's (those associated with the IRS) arbitrary likes, dislikes, petty prejudices, and power monger's egos.

Margaret, Carmel

Going to use this quote in a book I'm writing. Thanks. Jefferson says it like it is!! (unfortunately)

Waffler, Smith

Too simplistic. I am thrilled that folk fear the consequences of traffic violations, polluting and littering. Public policy enforced by government give us cleaner streams, good management of forests and wild life. Left to our own devices and schemes the deer herds would have disappered 50 years ago. Individulas need to work together (thus public policy) to manage and protect limited resources be they natural, polictical, or economic. In a democracy when the government (that is us) fear the few that is licentiousness, when the few fear the governments (law) that is the beginning of WISDOM. I love Tom but this simple quote is certainly not representative of his entire body of thought.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, just another ignorant and despotic rambling without merit showing once again your antagonism to freedom, liberty, law, justice and individual sovereign's unalienable rights. First, a democracy is neither an us or them, it is a majority mob of might makes right. People don't fear the consequences of traffic violations because, people drive within their comfort zone abilities. People do fear Gestapo penalties for and against lawful non-compliance to victimless crimes. The vast majority (as to my personal experience) of hunters are very aware of game numbers. If the wild is well managed and numbers for game issued, hunters respect the limitation to secure the species and future hunts. Again, hunters do fear Gestapo penalties for and against lawful non-compliance to victimless crimes. I could go on and on but paraphrasing Archer from the other day, how does our fellow man, that we can not trust, become trustworthy when he enters government service? Now that the tyrannous statist theocracy infesting this land is admittedly not of, by, or for We The People, Jefferson's here statement has more meaning than ever.

Waffler, Smith

Law or as you would have it rules are for the bad hunters and the bad people. They also create a level playing field so that man is not pitted against man but all men honor the same rules. Rules which by the way you always seem to be against. Grow up Mike, just grow up!

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, I'm never against rules that reflect, or otherwise define the Law of Nature and of Nature's God and, the unalienable rights of the individual sovereign. I am always against rules that infringe on freedom, liberty, rights, law or justice. Waffler, what do you mean by, 'grow up!' Does that mean I need to become an ignorant slave like you or exchange my labors for ill gotten booty from the government? No thanks. I'm happy to stay a law abiding individual that does not fear the statist theocracy that infests this land.

Bob, Portland

Jefferson did NOT say this. It has been debunked by scholars at University of Virginia. Yes, you see it all over the internet, but it is not from TJ and when you think about, it DOESN'T make sense. In America we fear the government and we have liberty. In Syria, for one example, the government fears the people and there is tyranny. Zero Stars

Audrey, Zanesville

Would someone please tell me where this quote is found in Thomas Jefferson's writings? I love it ... if it's not his i could claim it as mine!!

jim k, Austin

A great quote even if Jefferson didn't say it.

Ronw13, Yachats OR

Bob once a bully always a bully. Standing Down the bully, Every ones Right. What you are saying, You Fear the government. there for act accordingly, as their slave,


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