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

Thomas Jefferson Quote

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson to Madison, January 30, 1787
quoting the Latin phrase, "Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem."

Ratings and Comments


J Carlton, Calgary

Me too.

jim k, Austin, Tx

From Jefferson to Obama, what a slide into the pits.

You, TN
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You, TN jim k, Austin, Tx 4/21/20

Only if you had been educated, you would know that Trump is spelled with a T R U M P

Common, Sense
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Common, Sense You, TN 4/24/20

That was posted in 2013, but good on you for trying.

Bruce Wayne, INDY
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Bruce Wayne, INDY Common, Sense 5/15/20

Thats JUST FUNNY, common sense wins over education...ROFLMFAO

Fadua Mohana, Danbury

Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.
Khalil Gibran

Mary - MI
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Mary - MI    9/27/13

George Washington clearly and truly lived by that statement.

Cal, Lewisville, TX

Our greatest president.

Matthew, Peoples Republik of Kalifornia

HA! This from a slave-owner...

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC Matthew, Peoples Republik of Kalifornia 7/24/18

Jefferson inherited his slaves and they were already used as collateral and could not be freed without the debts being paid off.  Had his entry in the Declaration of Independence been accepted by the Southern states, slavery would have been abolished, and Jefferson's slaves would have been freed.

Jason, USa
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Jason, USa E Archer, NYC 4/22/20


 Guy stop lying. Jefferson inherited 62 slaves but he ended up owning about 600 slaves in his lifetime. But nice try at revising history

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC Jason, USa 4/22/20

Not a lie.  Virginia law prohibited the freeing of slaves.  Jefferson treated his slaves well, and they were lucky to have him as their master.  Had his slavery clause been included in the Declaration of Independence, his slaves would have been free. (!!)

Eve B, Macon, Ga
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Eve B, Macon, Ga E Archer, NYC 4/29/20

Treated his slaves well!  That's a huge oxymoron.

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC Eve B, Macon, Ga 5/1/20

Put yourself in Jefferson's position.  You have inherited slaves.  Some are mortgaged.  The slaves are in your care.  They run the farm (requiring hundreds of laborers), the household.  The law of the land prohibits free slaves.  A freed black could be enslaved again.  Jefferson tried to free ALL slaves in the Declaration of Independence.  If you were prohibited from freeing your slaves and you were against slavery in principal, how would you treat those under your care?

William Foster, Mebane, NC
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William Foster, Mebane, NC Eve B, Macon, Ga 5/22/20

There are millions of slaves being treated well. It's called public assistance.

M.Smith, Mobile
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M.Smith, Mobile Eve B, Macon, Ga 5/28/20

You do realize that there were also black slave owner's and that slavery was wide spread in Africa as well as the muslim slavers, right ???

M.Smith, Mobile
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M.Smith, Mobile M.Smith, Mobile 5/28/20

In fact, Africa still trades slaves and so do the muslims !!!

Carole, Indiana
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Carole, Indiana E Archer, NYC 5/4/20

Actually you are wrong.  There was an age requirement for freeing enslaved people.  Remember Jefferson had his wife's half sister as a concubine and had children with her.  If he was a moral human being he could have freed them.  Also, Jefferson did not believe that enslaved people had the intellectual capability of competing with white people.

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC Carole, Indiana 5/4/20

Again, the Jefferson estate was mortgaged, including the slaves which were essentially attached as property.  Jefferson was unable to pay them off, he died in debt.  Fathering children out of wedlock may be considered immoral, but it certainly wasn't/isn't uncommon  certainly not a cause to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Jefferson brought the case for freeing the slaves before the Continental Congress  that is a fact.  And if that clause had been included, his slaves would have been free.  Who is to say how many of Jefferson's slaves would have remained?  Who can really bear witness to how Jefferson interacted with his servants?  Can you even conceive of the idea that slaves were also loved and treated as family? (Some were.)  I give Jefferson the benefit of the doubt.  Far from being perfect, he was one of the most brilliant minds in American history.

Keith, NC
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Keith, NC E Archer, NYC 5/7/20

E Archer, He could have stood up and defied the law, but he didn't. He chose his wealth over humanity. I do love the fact that you honestly believe that his slaves were "lucky to have him as a master." As if anyone that was enslaved was lucky to be there.

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC Keith, NC 5/11/20

Jefferson did all that.  The reasons have been well explained.  He defied the King and freed EVERYONE with the Declaration of Independence.  He could not end slavery on his own, nor could he free his slaves any more than you could stop paying your mortgage and demand to keep your house.  Again, there is no claim (or evidence) that Jefferson abused his slaves, quite the contrary.

Indy, Indy
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Indy, Indy Keith, NC 8/10/20

Not woke, I guess. 

Keith, NC
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Keith, NC Carole, Indiana 5/7/20

She was not his concubine. She was his repeated rape victim.

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC Keith, NC 5/11/20

There are different ways to look at it  none of which are common practice today.  Sally Hemmings was Martha Jefferson's half-sister, raised as one of the family all her life.  Martha died after giving birth  Sally had always been in the family.  Sally and Thomas wrote each other in letters in addition to their affair.  Is love between the two an impossibility?  Sally was there for Thomas as she was there for Martha.  To assert that Sally was raped is a lie.

ROSS WILLSON, OCKLAWAHA
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ROSS WILLSON, OCKLAWAHA Jason, USa 4/27/20

Perhaps over the period of time  the Slaves Jefferson inherited got married, and had children and grandchildren so it wasn't like Jefferson continued to "buy" slaves at the auction..

Tom Cardello, Westlake
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Tom Cardello, Westlake Matthew, Peoples Republik of Kalifornia 2/28/20

Matthew, title should be People's Republik of Kalifornikate.

JD, Chesterton
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JD, Chesterton Matthew, Peoples Republik of Kalifornia 4/13/20

Matthew doesn't know real history. Matthew is an idiot !

J Carlton, Calgary

Matthew, half the planet's wealthy people had slaves at the time and it still goes on today. Can you not get your head around the FACT that slavery was an English legacy and that the Founders were moving away from it? Why don't you just come right out and trash ALL of the principles that the nation was founded upon and get it over with?

Mike, Norwalk

Who here prefers the dangerous freedom of living; non-compliant to compelled compliance, free without license, without modifying actions due to victimless crimes, a life without paying larceny demands or with inalienable rights intact, over slavery ? ? ?

E Archer, NYC

No peace without Liberty.

J. Allen, Arlington, Va

Matthew wouldn't be aware that Jefferson tried to have slavery outlawed in our original constitution.

I expect Matthew would want the Jefferson Memorial removed. Washington Monument also since Washington had slaves and then rename the nations capitol. What a simple minded response from him.

E Archer, NYC

Slavery is the number one racket in the world, far from being abolished, the conditions are merely improved in the 'civilized' nations.  Most demand their servitude/security.  Those that demand Liberty are called selfish and are bound even tighter as an example.  Self-sufficient, productive, and cooperative people are a threat to victim-consciousness (i.e. slave-consciousness).  Apparently people who wish to live free are 'radicals' — that's what they tell us on the boob tube.  I'm not sure how wanting to live up to the ideals of America is considered so dangerous by the oppressed masses, but here we are...

C.R.Savetier

This is not even from T. Jefferson. This quote is said by some polish Duke, which was translated to English later.

"Under such a constitution above all, the citizen should arm himself with strength and constancy, and say, every day of his life, what a virtuous Count Palatine said in the Diet of Poland: Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium."
/ Rousseau, Du Contrat Social (Chapter IV. Democracy)

Editor, Liberty Quotes
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Editor, Liberty Quotes C.R.Savetier 4/22/20

The Latin phrase "Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium" is in the letter from Jefferson to Madison, verbatim.  He was not directly quoting Count Palatine, but it was an idiom of which both were familiar. 

Bruce L. Meredith, Perth W. Australia

Few things in life to anyone are an absolute in and of themselves, however when it comes to "freedom" it is certain to be the highest birthright and the way a person should be able to live in mind, body and soul. Freedom is not to be seen as a privilege for privileges can be taken away. Freedom is the very basis of what makes any nation, community and family feel safe and secure, what and how these are to be perceived by others. "Freedom" should be the first thing that anyone and everyone should fight for, and the very last thing to let go, to give up without a fight! Because without "freedom" we are as animals of a farm and lambs to a possible slaughter, at the mercy of those who would like to dictate and control that freedom..! Always and above all things we must maintain the rage against any and all who would seek to remove this one basic right that we should all be able to enjoy. Inasmuch we must guard at all times against the possibility of freedom being slowing removed treating this possibility as a cancerous growth removing any threat against freedom to prevent any suffering or ills being thrust upon others no matter their race, country or religion. If not we may have to face a much larger challenge as we may become the next to succumb to a loss of that "absolute" basic birthright known as freedom.

Jay, Philadelphia

Instead of some here lamenting about how our founders had slaves and how hypocritical our country was. Don't  they understand we abolished that horrible institution well over 160yrs ago and suffered a horrible civil war to do it. Instead of soap box signaling why not do something to stop slavery that is still going on in parts of the world now, particularly in Africa itself. Last time I checked there are still dozens of young girls still enslaved by Boko Haram who were kidnapped few years back. Just saying. 

Mikey, Woodstock, GA

I am absolutely disgusted when people make memes of supposed quotes from our founders, when they can never seem to get it right, or they just make stuff up out of thin air.

While it is true, in many speeches, documents, and letters, that Thomas Jefferson expressed the sentiments spoken above, he never said those words. However, in 1775, Jefferson composed the first draft of a document titled, "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms," that ended with the line, "Being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves." That particular document was reworked, finished, and published by John Dickinson.

In the same vein as that meme, is a quote from Benjamin Franklin that is almost always misquoted, or misrepresented. In a letter to the governor in 1755, for the Pennsylvania Assembly, Franklin wrote, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Semper Fidelis!


Editor, Liberty Quotes
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Editor, Liberty Quotes Mikey, Woodstock, GA 4/22/20

Would you prefer the original Latin?

"Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem."

Jefferson and Madison were versed in Latin and Greek, often included famous idioms in their writing.  The phrase is in a letter from Jefferson to Madison on January 30, 1787.

Shall we put this to rest? We are happy to remake the meme in Latin for the purists. The English translation of the phrase will stand.

G, G
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    G, G    4/23/20

    But he owned slaves under the inhumane chattel bondage system in America??? 

    Carrie, Podunkville MN
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    Carrie, Podunkville MN G, G 4/24/20

    Sure he did, but you see history belongs to the victor. So while it may be true that he owned like 600 slaves in throughout the course of his lifetime and fathered more than a few illegitimate children with some, most of us have grown up only learning of their virtue. Praising Jefferson for his profound statements on freedom is a farce. I’m not saying that he was an awful person or didn’t do anything good, but let’s not honor a slave-owner for his thoughts on freedom. Just as we shouldn’t honor an adulterer for his thoughts on marital fidelity, or a pathological liar for his thoughts on honesty, or a misogynist for his thoughts on women’s suffrage. It’s disingenuous at best, ignorant at worst. 

    E Archer, NYC
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    E Archer, NYC Carrie, Podunkville MN 4/25/20

    Rewriting history to suit your own 21st century take on the 18th century is not serving the truth.  Note, all plantations in Virginia were run by slaves.  There was no way to free a slave in Virginia at that time  the slave would be enslaved to another laying claim to him.  How slaves were treated by their masters varied widely, and like other domesticated animals, many were loved and cared for by their owners.  There are no anecdotes of Jefferson being a hard master  on the contrary, he treated his slaves well.  His slaves were also used as collateral (since they were considered property).  There is still some question on whether Jefferson fathered any children with his slaves, but it doesn't matter to me.  Jefferson tried to free the slaves in the Declaration of Independence  it was South Carolina that refused to sign the Declaration with the slavery clause.  To call Jefferson a misogynist is disingenuous at best.  As well, to ignore the times and context of Jefferson's life is to choose self-righteousness over reality.  What is your contribution to the liberty of the People?  It will never come close to Jefferson's...  Honor that.

    Annah, Fenton

    It doesn't matter who said it.  It is nonetheless true!!

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