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

Famous Thomas Jefferson Quote

“The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to everyone exactly the functions in which he is competent ...
- To let the National Government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations ...
- The State Governments with the Civil Rights, Laws, Police and administration of what concerns the State generally.
- The Counties with the local concerns, and each ward direct the interests within itself.
It is by dividing and subdividing these Republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations until it ends in the administration of everyman's farm by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson letter to Joseph Cabell, Febrary 2, 1816, Writings W., 6:544

Ratings and Comments

E Archer, NYC

Excellent! This is the quintessential definition of the American Republic. It is the ideal to which we should all be aspiring. It is the foundation of American Common Law and a model of Free Society itself.

Senor Reek, Corozal, Belize, Central America

Jefferson, long my idol, had a perfect idea of what government should be. Before he died, tho, the Feds were starting to take control. "We know what's best for you!" is their motto, because they think we don't have enuf sense to govern ourselves. Maybe -- someday -- we'll decide to take it back, but maybe not -- it's just sooooo easy to let Uncle Sugar do it.

KS., Queensbury,NY

What a guy he was. We sure could use a few men of his caliber today in Congress.

Don Alafa, Visalia, CA

The machinations of a republic in a nutshell. The perfect bluprint for any republic. How blessed we are to have been guided by men who thought like this. The likes of whom we will only read about in history books.

helorat, Milton

Excellent quote, ideal summation of the intent of our republic, which was virtually destroyed by the power shifts enabled by the 16th and 17th Amendments. But Jefferson was human, and no Saint. He freely admitted he exceeded his authority with the Louisiana Purchase, which was for the "good of the country;" a popular justification for a multitude of government evils perptrated almost daily.

Eric Engstrom, Wichita, KS

How this Republic was blessed by it's founders. Notwithstanding the politically motivated constant sniping we practice, both Left and Right, I think President Jefferson would be proud, but not terribly surprised that the Republic he helped to found was alive and well, and in constant turmoil. And I think he'd like the turmoil most of all, that we can argue, sometimes bitterly and still maintain the unity of our nation. Worth fighting for...worth dying for... but most of all, worth living for.

warren, olathe

He understood the proper distribution of power.

J Carlton, Calgary

It would seem we have strayed a very long way from the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Remember November.

Jamie, Nelson

That eventually, moving people into key places. That this type of government will actually aid those who would subvert the process. Through connections made by families, in college and business. To give the apparent truth of what Mr. Jefferson was trying to achieve.Then subverting the people's will, for their own cause. Tying up due processes with the banks and media they own.

Senor Reek, Tombstone, AZ

Boy, he sure had that right!! States rights is what the "Civil War" was REALLY about. And we will have to do it again, sooner or later!

Heather, Frankfort

Maybe Obama needs to read the constitution and study the writer. Basically, keep the feds out of our business (out of AZ business as well).

Popeye, Wichita KS

State rights ... The first act of the Virginia Attorney General was to insist on the removal of equal treatment of gays at the states universities. When Jefferson wrote this, slavery was part of the constitution and an institution in SOME states so it made sense then but not now. It is why we have an amendment process. Jefferson was brilliant but not always right. The original intent of the Constitution was to hold humans in bondage. None of the founders had the moral courage to eliminate it, and neither did the people up until 1964. Something must change in the formula Jefferson advocated or we will have Jim Crow laws back and this time, maybe it will be YOU who are discriminated against but it is certain that Blacks, Gays, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Mormons [outside of Utan] and many more will be on the new list if Civil Liberties are determined by the States. No thank you.

cal, lewisville, tx

Popeye, if I don't like it where I am living in America then I will move to somewhere else in America where I do like it. Our greatest president knew that "one size does not fit all."

Popeye, Wichita KS

Brilliant cal -- Did you even think about that before you wrote it? And what happens when you are not welcome anywhere in America? So much for the Land of the Free huh. I can tell you, you are not thinking of America as I know it nor one that Jefferson envisioned. The right claims they love the constitution but in the last year there has been no less than 43 suggested amendments to that beloved document. So much for original intent, Pilgrim.

Mike, Norwalk

Popeye, I absolutely agree with you about the discrimination but, you totally missed it on the Constitution. Your comment reminds me of Pastor Martin Niemöller's "In Germany, the Nazis first came for the communists, . . . " The socialists (progressives to neocons, communists to fascists, etc.) that are trying to implement States rights are only doing it so that they can implement their own brand of tyranny without interruption while the nationalist or international socialists want total dominance. The fact remains and, historically proven that, the closer the de jure / non-criminal government is to We The People, with checks and balances from afar (County, State, Federal), law, justice, inalienable rights of the individual sovereign, freedom and liberty will have a better chance of being secured and exercised..

Popeye, Wichita KS

Niemöller's quote is exactly my point. Who will be next on the list of the unaccepted. State control of civil liberties has proven not to work. I say again, JIM CROW LAWS. I never said I do not agree with other parts of Jefferson's quote but something bigger than local bigotry must prevail over the fear of the different. As far as international-socialist conspiracies go -- show me evidence for such a wild claim. I am more worried about the real threat of corporate control of the electoral process and by extension all levels of government.

Johann Hollar, Saint Paul, MN

More brilliant words from a brilliant man.

Mike, Norwalk

Popeye, for one, the Federal Reserve. Further, all the unconstitutional alphabet soup agencies that are in collusion with ignorant local despots.

E Archer, NYC

I'm afraid Popeye hasn't a clue as to what the Constitution is supposed to do, nor the difference between natural-born rights and civil rights. First, the government does not grant rights -- if it did, then it could also take them away. The Constitution is what LIMITS the government's power to force arbitrary will upon the people. American Common Law is predicated upon the rights of man, rights that are inalienable and are a faculty of birth. Civil rights (as per the Roman Law from which they came) are not rights but government privileges/license. I will agree that Jefferson's ideal has yet to be realized as the government of the people, by the people and for the people still leave large classes of people out. One could say that today's statist mindset is still an evil to be dealt with as individual responsibility is what supports liberty. Man-made statutes that endeavor to control people's beliefs, consensual sexual acts, what people may buy, what they may eat, what they may think, say, do, what they may earn, and what they MUST pay are examples of civil law, not the Laws of Nature. Unfortunately, the statist mindset calls government subsidies 'rights' -- as if some people have a right to the government treasury. What statists want (whether they lean to the right or the left) is government power to force others to do their bidding. Jefferson's description of republican governance distributes power, whereas statism aims to centralize power into a few hands who soon become drunk with power. The very real threat of corporate control is strengthened by statism's monopolistic policies. The American people are supposed to be protected from the wealthy, powerful and the mob, but statism turns that around and promotes 'might makes right.' We should start calling corporatism what it really is: fascism. And the Democrats and Republicans are indeed furthering fascism -- both are beholden to corporate interests and a debt-as-money economic system. If you want less corporatism, then you will have to take away their ability to create 'money' and lend it at interest -- remember the granddaddy of all corporatism is the Federal Reserve Bank, and as long as they can buy government bonds with nothing, then they become the undisputed masters of all trade and commerce (i.e. Fascism).

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

An exquisite, irreproachable, distillation of the American Ideal.

John Shuttleworth, New York City

The concept of populist government is a myth perpetuated by those in power (or seeking power) to placate those whom they would enslave. Authority is not necessarily power; but usually results in the same. The body of our Constitution outlines governmental authority, then, through its amendments, outlines the civil rights of the governed. How could it be other? One does not establish a government without its criteria to govern. Our founders could not have envisioned a nation of the size and complexity we have become. I am convinced even the federalists, at that time, saw only 13 colonies united within the parameters of common cause; not blended unanimity. There is a scalar limit to that which can be organized and managed effectively and efficiently; but inefficiency does not, necessarily, negate principle. Stupidity can be forgiven and courses corrected; provided the helm is awake and the navigator(s) reasonably competent. However, even if the principles are clear and the goal explicit 2 or more navigators invites operational chaos. Such is democracy, in all its forms. I would not want to live under his proposed structure; but Plato was not wrong in his analysis. To summarize: Our Jeffersonian / Hamiltonian schism has been with us from the beginning as a near fact of human society. It is not likely to homogenize without agitation nor remain so when let to rest.

Thomas Bieter, St. Paul, MN

It is the principle of subsidiarity that originated in German law. Jefferson was a learned lawyer.

Ronw13, Oregon

" The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetuated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of the individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public Liberty." Washington's Farewell Address.
" An appreciable advance towards reconciliation of the falsehood concerning the statist theocracy infesting our once Free Republic must be resolved with all hast and vitality."
Sub-factions of " One nation conservatives" within the Republican party, as also the Democratic party who favor paternalism should be considered enemies of personal Liberty and Independence. Themselves being seen clearly as nothing more than socialist by the Patriots who voted Donald J. Trump into office.

E Archer, NYC

Ron, you make a good point about 'paternalism.' To have a 'patron' is still a common cultural aspect of the Americas. In Latin America, the culture is built upon the various 'patrons' who possess the land and house families on site as laborers, often for generations. Like feudalistic Europe in its day. In the US, there were a couple differences to prevent this perpetual dependency upon patronage. First and foremost, an American could own land free of liens and encumbrances -- this was essentially unheard of in England and Europe. He did not have to be a perpetual tenant of his home. Secondly, private enterprise and trade allowed the American the fruits of his labor without claims from his patron.

I've spent time in many 3rd world nations. Control of the land, labors and trade keeps the common people indentured. A culture of paternalism becomes necessary for survival. That's another reason to restrict the number of immigrants requesting 'patronage' from the US -- do they have the mindset for Liberty and Responsibility? Or are they looking for another patron?

Frankly I am shocked at the number of immigrants who immediately begin living off government welfare! SO many thousands of talented people trying to immigrate legally, taking years and money to process, while hoards of 3rd world immigrants are pouring through the borders and latching on to the government teat. It seems to me that like the money supply, the powers-that-be are trying to dilute the American culture with paternalism until the free American spirit is quashed. It's not going to happen without a fight.


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