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

Thomas Jefferson Quote

“I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessities and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers. Our land-holders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagances. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for the second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse on this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Letter to Samuel Kercheval, Monticello, July 12, 1816

Ratings and Comments

E Archer, NYC

Bravo! Will the People EVER take heed? !!

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Good question. Elect me president and I will abolish the IRS, make the socialist and communist parties illegal, and run the UN and the OAS into oblivion. And that would be just the first week.

J.Crosby, MN

No truer words were ever spoken, no truer prediction was ever made. We are there, and now what do "We the People" do?

Robert, Sarasota

We are our own enemy more so than any terrorist - make me President and I will bring back education into our schools and include ethics and cultural and religious differences, ban all political campaign funding, have the media designate time for political discourse and elections, do away with religion in any public forum, take the God out of our pledge, bring back respect for liberalism, cut the military budget by 75%, create a Department of Peace, help build hospitals and schools in countries that desperately need them, create employment by repairing the nations infrastructure, stop the sale of weapons to foreign countries, build emergency medical centers in low-income areas, create incentives to hose who make things, increase the minimum wage to $10, never allow our nation to invade another country unless we are attacked first, the list goes on but I think you get the idea. Lastly, 80% of the world’s population would find oatmeal and potatoes a luxury.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

This quote talks about the evil of a 93% tax rate, which has little to do with the low tax rates that already exist in the USA today (especially upon the rich). To fix our problems we need hard work and dedication, not overly simplistic non-solutions that will just make all of the existing basic problems worse.

Anonymous, Frankfort, Indiana

Old Tom never lived thus experienced the oatmeal and potatoes poverty he purported to represent and I'd suspect he read this material among the whines of French revolting revolutionists. He always was a sucker for a revolution, a rebellion, a resentment of restraint on mouth and manner. Hamilton was more to my liking and rarely quoted. He must have been more like Washington, thus the strong silent type than was old Tom. Tom got the fame he sought but all with fame are not correct nor strong nor only benefit to those upon whom they leave their influence. Better than old Tom lived less known and more of benefit.

Mike, Norwalk

Don't shoot the messenger (whether you dis-like old Tom or respect Mr. Jefferson), the message given as derived from the quote is absolute and correct (whether the tax rate be 33 or 93%). The answer is a very simple one, return to a Constitutional Government and the Republic for which it stood.

21st Century American, Your Town, USA

It is very encouraging and promising to know that the Forefathers of this Once Honorable and Worthy Republic "Of The People" were Men of Good Substance! We can Only Pray that in some special way, the Spirit of their Vision for a Land Of The People and By The People lives on in the Spirit of the 21st century American. If we don't retain a piece of that once great Republic, the true identity of that Republic is lost Forever.

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Chicago    5/26/06

The quote is about the terrible price the People pay for government debt. Reston says, "To fix our problems we need hard work and dedication, not overly simplistic non-solutions that will just make all of the existing basic problems worse." Talk about overly simplistic! Just 'work harder' to keep a corrupt system funnelling trillions into the hands of the bankers who lend us our own money at interest. The comments from Anon from Frankfurt sound like those of the aristocracy he defends -- when Hamilton became treasurer of the US, he quickly got his buddies together to form the first private central bank (like the Federal Reserve today). After years of the 'First Bank of the US' plundering the nation, President Jefferson finally killed the bank's charter. He warned us to fix our Constitutions to prevent the banking institutions from swindling the People again -- unfortunately, we didn't listen...

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

In the second week of my presidency, I will put all ablebodied social assistance recipients to work, eliminate income tax for individuals earning less than $40,000 a year, and cause all Americans and alien residents to swear to defend and protect the United States Constitution, or otherwise be branded with a question mark on the foreheador exiled. By national referendum, we will choose two or three regions where no laws will exist, for all of you who believe they aren't necessary, and relocate you to one of those regions. Sale of illicit drugs outside of those regions will be punishable by forced relocation to one of those regions. Rape will become punishable by removal of the gonads and both thumbs. The borders will be sealed by every means. No immigrants will be admitted, except through approved channels. Anyone committing crimes in the name of any religion will be forced to watch and/or listen to recordings of clergy of the opposing religions for no less than twenty years, 18 hours a day. Couples will have to attend thirty hours of class sessions before being allowed to marry and have children. And if all that does not work, we will give the land back to the Native Americans and jump off cliffs into the sea like the lemmings we are.

Joe, Rochester, MI

The government takes more than 1/4 off the top in income tax. Add property, state, other taxes, fees and fines ... our tax rate is around 50%. In an 8 hour day, local, state and federal government gets 4 hours of your life. Why the hell should we wait until it reaches 93%?

E Archer, NYC

David, Hitler couldn't have said it better.

Blake Mc, Metaline Falls, WA

I think our fore fathers wanted better for us than we have now! We as a people are too good at handing our rights over. Many in America want a better country but don't believe we can have it. To many have given up and are willing to let the minority take it all. This should not be so! We as Americans can and should voice our thoughts, and not allow those who feel everyone else should do it their way, to Be the only voice heard in our government. Our fore fathers intended for this country to have as little government as possible and allow each state to govern itself except in a few matters. Let us return to that government! I agree with removing the IRS, the central Banking system, and the excess money institutions that control so many in this country. Let Americans govern themselves in such away that God might bless them again as a country. More personal responsibility and accountability for all!

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Why, thank you so much, Archer. Coming from you, that is almost a compliment. And in the third week of my presidency, I would get shot to death.

E Archer, NYC
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E Archer, NYC David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood 4/11/19

If the election of Trump has proven anything, the president doesn't/can't rule.  He is an executive administrator and commander in chief of the military.  Trump cannot even get his own bureaus to act.  This whole idea that electing a president can solve the nation's problems stems from the fallacy that he is the commander and chief of the government  he isn't.  Congress writes all the laws, spends all the money.  They are supposed to represent the people, but in reality they represent a 'party' with an agenda for furthering their power to eventually 'rule' and dictate to the people their obligations.  The president is a gatekeeper  he is to protect the rights of Americans from the wiles of power-hungry politicians who write rules that funnel money into their pockets.  

21st Century American, Your Town,USA

Hey Blake Mc from Metaline Falls,WA.....It is Americans like you that America needs!!

T, Rogers, Ponchatoula, LA

If a man does not work he should not eat 2 Thess 3:10. We need to get back to our Christian principles. It is not my neighbor's resposibility to feed me and my family and like wise. Why are so many people looking for a handout?

Cat, Chicago, IL

I look at this quote a bit differently. Jefferson comes off as a socialist to me, at the same time though, ironically, railing against taxes. He is not okay with someone working 16 hours a day and that not being able to afford them a decent life. This in its essence is the main point of labor unions, to reward the worker with wages and benefits he deserves. We no longer have to worry about the government taxing away nearly 100% of a middle class workers wealth, instead we have to worry about the LACK of government to ensure workers are given the rights they have earned.

J Carlton, Calgary

NOTHING is going to change until we shut down the Federal Reserve and its collection wing, the IRS. Only then will We The People have a Government that represents "us" as opposed to the talking head sock puppets we now suffer.

Waffler, Smith

Wow and now we have Dick Cheney, who says, "Deficits don't matter!" Yes we have come a long long way.

Carol Dorrough, Estero, FL

TIME to join the LIBERTARIAN party, TIME to be BRAVE and take back our LIBERTY. Maximum freedom, minimum Government:

cal, lewisville, tx

How many times has our GREATEST PRESIDENT rolled in his grave?

E Archer, NYC

It seems obvious to me that those above listing all the things they would do as president have not understood Jefferson's message at all AND have a monarchical vision of the presidency. No one should have the power to make such individual changes that affect so many people, and our Constitution is supposed to balance power not centralize it into fewer and fewer hands. What Jefferson is talking about is government DEBT and its eventual destruction of the nation. When the People finally understand that, we will stop begging the government for more controls and regulations, the cost of which is often greater than the problem they are supposedly trying to solve. In the end, when a government like the one Jefferson is warning us about ever takes hold, we will have become serfs again on our own land.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, wow - I agree with you; Mr. Obamunist Goodwrench the assassin (from the communist side of socialism) has increased the deficits, probably beyond fixing, proving Cheney (from the fascist side of socialism) wrong again. WOW, Jefferson was so right on here it was/is beyond any reasonable questioning.

Rita, Richland

This is on!

Waffler, Smith

Except Mike, Obama did not do it! The path we are on was changed by Cheney/Bush. Clinton/Gore had the US Fed Budget on surplses far into the future. These would have been necessary in order to pay off the existing debt at the time. Bush ended all of that. Obama has only inherited the Cheney/Bush failed philosophy. This situation will never correct itself until we dump the liars and phonies. There is absolutely no reason that the government of the worlds largest economy should be in this situation. Simply by ending the give away that is called the Standard Deduction the Treasury could pick up billions. (As you know one may deduct his mortgage interest and RE Taxes. However and strangely enough if one does not have those items he may still take a deduction amouting to $10,000 or more. This give away deduction at a 20% tax rate amounts to a $2,000 Tax savings or give away to the American people who did not have the otherwise required expense of mortgage interest and real estate taxes. This change when multiplied by millions of taxpayers would bring in billions of dollars. I only mention this as an example of the stupidity that is in th Code and how easy it would be to fix if we could only get some decent politicians, like Clinton and Gore instead of the Bush/Cheney and Grover what's his face, or yeah, Norquist.

J Carlton, Calgary all started in 1871. Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Clinton...all did their part too. And now the Kenyan Imposter has picked up the ball and has us running at breakneck speed towards complete collapse. Restore the Republic.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, I'll go along with you, Mr. Obamunist Goodwrench the assassin did not start it. His role was to accelerate the here quoted problem beyond any freedom lover's worst nightmare, with additional socialistic safeguards to assure the once great nation's demise (blaming predecessors, and using half truths and out right prevarications to defend the bad - calling it good, does not return freedom, liberty, recognition of unalienable rights, prosperity and the Constitutionally limiting representative Republic that once existed.

Anonymous, Melbourne

The prescience of the Man is astonishing. Appears we chose unwisely. Its high time the tree of liberty got some water, of the unflouridated variety. Throw the moneychangers from the temple. Support mathematically perfected economy n absolute consensual representation in abolishing this system of terminal exploitation some have the temerity to label economy.

LeRoy Matthews, Seminole, FL

If the SO-CALLED "national debt" was about $ 4.2 Trillion when Sick Willie supposedly became the "president" , & was about $5.7 Trillion when he left, HOW IN HELL COULD HE HAVE HAD ANY SURLUSES ??? ...............(HE DIDN'T !!!)

Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University, & others, state that because of their Unfunded & Off-Budget Liabilities & Obligations, the actual debt that the so-called "feds" have is about $234 TRILLION, & GOING UP ABOUT $ 1 TRILLION A MONTH.
THEY HAVE VIRTUALLY ZERO $ FOR ANYTHING WHATSOEVER !!! Other so-called "governments" all over the world also have SEVERE $ PROBLEMS !!!

Ronw13, OR

How much more beloved a statement can be made for your fellow human being. Clear and simple, to the point, such a cry of compassion for your neighbor. When one cannot Hear the spiritual content, one results to the economics of practical application of a carnal mindset. Oppression is known of those who administer it, Not and Never of the unsuspecting.  


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