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

Thomas Jefferson Quote

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson's hand-written draft of the Declaration of Independence, June, 1776

Ratings and Comments

cal, lewisville, tx

Our nation was at it's greatest in the beginning.

J Carlton, Calgary

I have a copy of the Declaration on my office wall. It serves to remind me every day that we no longer have a government of the people...but rather a Board of Directors of USA Inc. We have become "inventory".

Mike, Norwalk

Once upon a time in a land far, far away existed a representative republic where the individual sovereign (by law, intact with all inherent and inalienable right) hired servants to administer, in a politically public setting, the limited issues of life, liberty, and property. But alas, that far distant dream is now but a fairy tale

Popeye, Wichita Kansas

Alas, it is but a quote. A closer look at the actual actions of the time will produce a much less achievement. High sounding words and I agree with them all but they were never put in action. All the Founding Fathers were white men of wealth and our system has always favored the white men, and the wealthy. There is tons of evidence for this starting with the most obvious shadow persons, Blacks, Indians, Women and the propertyless. None of the original 13 states gave voting rights to any of the above. It is an excellent goal but we have never been there, not yet anyway and you are self deceiving if you think we have. you must be smoking some good stuff or you have not read any scholarly history of the period outside of a generic history book which has created this myth of the glorious past.

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RBESRQ    2/21/11

Wow! Mike this is you to a "T" - your fairy tale is right-on. I love it too but for one thing, I just wished he left out the word "Creator" especially considering his history - '...'endowed by their creator...' what creator? Popeye is right on...

jimbo, Tucson

The word TJ used was "unalienable", as one that can not be liened (taxed). The California State Constitution was the first that misused inalienable.

Mike, Norwalk

Wow ! Robert, thank you. I hope that it is me to a 'T'. I also agree with Popeye here that, the ideal was never completely reached. At this point in time, we are running away from freedom, liberty, and the truths here expressed at light speed. Popeye though, also here expresses a late 20th / early 21st socialist / theocratic propaganda understanding (prejudicial ignorance) of ownership and who and why only certain individuals could vote (it had to do with perfected sovereignty but, that is a book for another day)

Popeye, Wichita Kansas

Wow Mike, you miss spoke -- it was NEVER reached, not "never completely reached." I noticed you presented no argument for three of the castes "not so endowed." Does it make any difference that in the South, you had to be a slave owner to be Governor? That you had to be a man of wealth to be in the legislature in all 13 States? That to vote or in other words have any say "of, for and by the people," was a purview of the the few? Does it mean anything that the electoral college or that Senators were selected by the State legislatures were buffers against the great but "equal" unwashed common people? You are living in a dream, bought and sold into the myth. You are part of the problem that prevents us from realizing the achievement of Jefferson's words my friend. The powerful always have an excuse why they, and not you, should exercise inalienable rights more perfectly than others. And you by into it apparently without giving it much thought.

Justin, Elkland

All men are created equal in the eyes of God, but all men are not of equal ability. How we have regressed. The lowest of fools understood this in Jefferson's time but this fact escapes the majority today. Lack of suffrage doesn't mean lack of life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Those who would make themselves dependents of the State should not vote. Those who would sell their vote for a gift card should be hanged publicly.

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    Publius    2/21/11

    Popeye...How are we not there yet? These "shadow persons", Blacks, Indians, Women and the propertyless can all vote, can all serve as officials in every state government and the federal government. In fact there is a black man currently serving in the highest office in the land; who by the way, won the popular vote. So the majority of citizens in this country believe that all men are created equal. Find me a single right in the Federal or any State Constitution that a white man has and a black, indian, woman, or propertyless person doesn't.

    J Carlton, Calgary

    Popeye, you obviously have a problem with not only the wealthy...but white people too. Corporatists in bed with the Government have got to go, but anyone who earned their money and became wealthy has every right to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Castro and you seem to disagree though. You might want to get over your bigotry and help save this nation. The Kenyan in the White House is doing his best to finish it off...right now.

    Mike, Norwalk

    Popeye, your one sided ignorance is very typical of a liberal government school education. Your not so endowed castes are off topic for what was trying to be made a permanent reality in a society where many of the founders understood the breadth and depth of individual freedom. Because individual sovereignty with inalienable rights and allodial ownership were disintegrating or were extinguished all together by political corruption, family break down, fiscal policies, prejudice, etc., a broader caste was eventually brought in as completion of the criminal enslavement. Today, no one (no race, sex, national origin, etc.) votes for a personal representative to represent them personally. Today all vote for a jailer of choice. Now that all can vote, have you heard of anyone trying to lawfully remove the despotic masters of this land while returning the individual sovereign to his / her noble place? Who has tried to eliminate compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity, a self proclaimed organic hegemony with inherent right or, tried to restore the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God, allodial ownership, the individual sovereign's status with inalienable rights? NOBODY ! ! ! The statist theocracy that infests this land's canons are antithetical to law, justice, liberty, freedom, the individual sovereign's inalienable rights, life, liberty, and property. Popeye, though your examples carry a thread of truth, your conclusions are off topic. "Man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years." (Lysander Spoonner) Justin, Publius, and Carlton all have points addressing your dilemma also.

    Popeye, Wichita Kansas

    When you run out of legitimate arguments, fall back on abusive argumentum ad hominem and genetic fallacy arguments. Our government works for corporations and the monied interests, as it always has from day one, not for the people. My argument Mike et al, is in the belief that it was otherwise at any other point in our history. We have always been an oligarchy of one stripe or another and continue to be one.

    E Archer, NYC

    I understand Popeye's point, but this quote represents the declaration of a self-evident truth. It is Popeye that started with the ad hominem arguments and criticized not the truth of the quote but the application of it. Taking the quote in context, it was the beginning of the Declaration of Independence from monarchical rule -- this was a revolutionary idea, to be free from the dictates of a king and court, and to be recognized as a sovereign individual oneself with inherent, in-born, and unalienable rights -- Jefferson used the words 'endowed by their Creator' not God but recognizing that man has not created himself nor this world -- it was here already and the process of life is not a function of kings or councils -- who knows, so the words 'their Creator' suffice to address the distinction that our lives and inherent rights come NOT from men. This was a first step, a revolution in the minds of men, that people are not born 'subjects' of a 'lord' but are in fact lords of themselves with equal dignity and rights as any other man. Have 'we the people' applied this principle to the governing of our nation? I would agree that it is still an ideal for which to strive. To address Popeye's points, few understand the intended structure of the government that followed with the Constitution for the USA which was another enormous step in the application of the idea that every person was a sovereign -- not over others, but over him/herself. Perhaps Popeye thought that the USA was established as a democracy -- it wasn't. And for the first time in European history a man or woman (no mention of race) could own land -- up until then, only the King owned the land, and the crown issued titles to it -- and could also take them away. Thus, America was not and could not be a democracy in which those who chose not to own land could vote away the property of others. The issue of slavery was tabled at the Continental Congress because what they were striving for first was independence from a monarchical form of government. YES, politics is the game of the rich and powerful, and THUS the Constitution was devised to LIMIT the power of those in government knowing full well the ambitions of men. No vote, no laws can snuff out this inherent trait among those in power. Therefore, to prevent the centralization of power into the hands of a few, the republican structure of government was established, founded upon FIRST the natural born rights and sovereignty of the individual, then the collective right of the people in a county -- the officials of which holding no more rights than any other, given only administrative duties to protect the rights of all -- including the rights of property holders. Then the counties form independent States -- each a country in its own right, with a Constitution of its own. Then these independent states voluntarily joined the Union of states we call the United States of America. That federal government -- not national government -- had specific (enumerated) and limited duties -- they could not dictate the rights of the people -- quite the contrary. States were one by one dissolving the practice of slavery -- remember, my friends, that up until then slavery had been a part of life for thousands of years. You think we have abolished slavery? Define slavery and you might see that what the government has become now -- in direct opposition to its intended constitution -- is a centralized oligarchy that issues all sorts of special dispensations, licenses, permissions, taxes, regulations just as the Kings of old had done, from which the Americans revolted. I am afraid Popeye has merely traded one form of slavery for another. Equal rights, yes, equal bondage, no. Yes, some of the richest and most powerful have become that way through methods prohibited in our constitution -- and now with that unchecked power, we have become beholden to them. It has nothing to do with race or gender, but ignorance of one's own responsibility to defend one's natural born unalienable rights. Once we agree to become wards of the state, to become subjects of a government, to trade our responsibly for subsidy, we debilitate ourselves and then cry out that not all have done so and that it isn't fair. That is the difference between a sovereign and a slave.


    And perhaps one day, the people will again stand on their hind legs and by any means refresh this freedom given to us by noble men. Our freedom was gained by a great struggle, and slowly taken by greed and trickery. We need another Jefferson, but a good man has been barred from office, it has been purchased by those who seek to rule all under tyranny. Someday , someday, this freedom still lives in the hearts of man, as long as it does there is hope.

    Patrick Henry, Red Hill

    Our illustrious Founder's critics, contemporary and historical, have yet to proffer a better idea than did they.

    Indeed, our Nobleman of Nature Founding Fathers established a polity in which we are at liberty to:

    " Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land, unto all of the inhabitants thereof."

    ~ Leviticus 25:10

    jim k, Austin

    Thomas Jefferson is still the best.

    Terence Marion, Wyoming, Michigan

    YOU have MISQUOTED the Declaration of Independence >> The word is UNALIENABLE not INALIENABLE. Their is a difference in the legal profession meaning of the 2 words and UNALIENABLE is the stronger word. That is what Thomas Jefferson said, wrote and ment. Please correct your-self and ALL OTHERS who misquote as you did.
    Terence Marion, 1130 Royal Oak, Wyoming, Michigan 49509 U S Army (ret.) Ph - 616 532-7425

    Editor, Liberty Quotes

    Thanks, Terence. This quotation is excerpted from one of Jefferson's drafts of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote 'inalienable' in all of his hand-written drafts; however, in Adams 'rough draft' it was 'unalienable.' Adams was on the committee which supervised the printing of the text ordered by Congress, and it may have been at his suggestion that the change was made. The quote as inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial in the nation’s capital also says 'inalienable' but does not include 'inherent and inalienable' as was in this draft. 'Inalienable' is most correct with Latin roots, unalienable combines English and Latin. While unalienable was in popular use in the 18th century, today, inalienable is the more commonly used form with the same meaning.


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