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

Thomas Jefferson Quote

“To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association -- the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Note in Tracy's "Political Economy," 1816

Ratings and Comments

Publius, America

This is a great quote that show's Jefferson's feelings about the idea of redistribution of wealth. He's saying that it is wrong to take from the rich and give to the poor and I agree. AND NO I AM NOT RICH.

T. LaMar, Keeseville, ny

This is NOT a question of "redistribution of wealth", a phrase that has become too sullied in recent pandering to the uber-rich, rather it is deals with the open question as to how much a man's labor is worth vs. the value of the object he creates and that of who owns the means of production of that object, as well as taxations on process at all levels, including inheritance. If we are to remain a society with the greatest disparity in usuriously gotten wealth in history it can be left as is. If there is any economic justice in the universe, it should begin by getting rid of the Bush inheritance tax "cuts" once and for all, lest we continue moving toward the most dichotomous, unjust society in the history of man.

Waffler, Smith

When a great-great-great-great grandchild inherits say a billion or even a hundred million from there forebearer do you think they are really any different than anyone who walks the street as far as relationship to the ancestor. We are all related. We all came from just a few forebearers. Should not to some extent we all share in the goodness of this earth and thus it should not be squirreld away entirely for just a few.

J Carlton, Calgary

Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve... But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn't belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay ... No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic. ~ Bastiat

Mike, Norwalk

YES ! ! ! We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Property. The T. LaMars, Wafflers, and other immoral, thieving, delusional, coveting, power mongering, shallow, control freak, patrons of the statist theocracy infesting this land think the 'borg' is god and government its omnipotent papal. Jefferson here is addressing a mentality that does not / can not comprehend individual sovereignty, alodial ownership, a representative republic, personal property, unalienable rights, the Laws of Nature or of Nature's God, or justice.

R. Sherron, Raleigh, NC

If we could only get Jefferson and Marx on the same stage in front of all the cameras for the world to see.

John Pettitt, Fredericksburg, Va

You know wouldn't it be great if all the Wafflers could move to one place and they could form a country called Waffleria. And then we could form a country called libertaria, where the majority of the readers here would live by the principles of individual choice and capitalism. And then we would simply compare the average quality of life between the two after 100 years. (Hell - we all know it wouldn't take that long even!) And then we could put all of Waffler's lies to rest. Of course I think American history has already showed this.

cal, lewisville, tx

Jefferson was our greatest president. What kind of ancestors did we have at the turn of the 20th century that believed we should have the 16th ammendent in order to make us more equal. It did, we all get the ole royal screwing now.

GJEnright, Weston, MO

This Jefferson quote is the best yet. How can anyone believe that TJ could possibly be the hero of the Democrats (liberals)

Winston Smith, Anywhere, USA

In high school 65 years ago, I was told that communism is "forcible distribution of wealth," I pictured in my mind, a man coming around with a bucket and a gun. You put your money in the bucket and he would give it to someone else. Today there is no bucket, it's an envelope where you insert a check that authorizes your bank to reduce the numbers in your acoount that the Fed says is only "book entries." We give them a check to avoid being jailed and losing our home. Real estate, income and inheritance "taxes" are the first three planks of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto and plank No. 4 called for the confiscation of property of (tax) rebels. The 5th plank saddled us with the Federal Reserve that has a monopoly in money creation.. Why doesn't everyone know this? Its because plank No. 6 called for the centralization of control of communication and transportation while No. 10 gave us "free education (indoctrination" in public schools." the 8th plank is promoted by the Girl Scouts and other feminists, it calls for the equal liability of all to labor. If they get their Equal rights amendment ratified, women will have the same right to avoid the draft that men have which is NONE!

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

And Jefferson built his empire upon the backs of slave labor... slaves who got nothing to pass on to their children other than continued slavery. Those who are fiscally successful typically do so not just on the fruits of their own labors, but on the backs of both society and their underlings... and thus there is a societal debt that is owed and must be paid.

jim k, Austin,Tx

T Lemar, Waff, and Anonymous sound like good little "wealth redistributers" and good old Karl Marx would be happy. When government does this, about 3% live well and 97% live in poverty. This is how it worked in the workers paradise in the Soviet Union.

jim k, Austin,Tx

The Anonymous comment on one of our greatest Founders and Presidents is too ridiculous for comment.

David Ben-Ariel, Toledo, Ohio

Jefferson wouldn't be too popular among the "black community," would he?

Duncan Campbell, Castleton on Hudson

This needs to be brought to the attention of our current President!

E Archer, NYC

Great quote! Hey, Waffler, you don't believe in inheritance (neither did Karl Marx -- no inheritance is one of the Communist Planks), but what about life insurance? Should children get to receive a million dollars when their father dies from his insurance policy? What Waffler misses when cursing the uber rich is that the uber rich became uber rich through the socialist/statist/monopolistic government policies that not only protected their wealth but have indebted the entire nation to them. In the fight for the Free Republic, we will have to battle these giants, I agree, and their empires will have to be torn down. But taxing those that make more than $200K annually, or taking 50% of every dead person's property isn't going to to do it -- it will only make these guys richer and more powerful. The government HAS NO MONEY!! So when the government takes property from the People by force, it is only to put it into the pockets of the uber rich again. Wake up -- the money system is designed to protect the empires of the ruling class. If they hadn't convinced the likes of Waffler and T.Lamar with the idea that taking from one class of persons to give to another is 'right' they never would be able to get away with this -- and it is a joke because 'they' OWN ALL THE MONEY anyway!!!! It ain't real money, fellas, it is Monopoly money, and we are all pawns in the game. Just try to buy and sell using gold and silver coins -- you will be charged with a crime.

Jamie, Nelson

That this speaks to the notion of taxation, more than socialism. That Mr. Jefferson is consistent in his approach to his cause. I would hope that Mr. Jefferson would have too, a "level playing field"? Which does not seem to be for so many of us, today. It would be a more level field if the wealthy paid a more proportionate share of taxes; compared to the poor people working three jobs.

GunnyCee, Durham

What is wrong with people like T Lamar, Waffler, and Anonymous? I went to high school with a kid whose father inherited millions and took over the industry of his father. This kid drove a pink caddy to school. The damn thing had automatic vacuuming ashtrays! We didn't treat him any different than anyone else in our school. I can't recall anyone calling him a "richy-rich" or any other disparaging names that liberals reserve for those who have a dollar more than they have. These three above mentioned folks are fearful and frightened about life in general and the fact that someone is classed "uber rich" just drives the up the wall. Scientific studies show that those who are born to money know how to handle it. They understand what it does and how to make it work for them and consequently for the good of mankind. It is only those who have never had wealth, who don't understand what money is and how it works that use it for their own gratification. They usually end up losing millions of dollars in a few short years. See "Lottery Horror Stories" on Google. Liberals don't understand money or wealth in the least. They think that those who are rich have taken money away from what is rightfully theirs to share. In my world, if you don't work, you don't eat, or you get the scraps if any are left over. In my world if you can't work for legitimate reasons, THEN you share in the wealth.

GunnyCee, Durham

By the way, this IS about redistribution of wealth you little pinko commies! To see that Jefferson was concerned about the whiners who would insist on sharing in the fruits of another's labors 400 years ago proves to me that human nature does not change at all. Now doesn't that make the Constitution a very relevant document even today, you trolls? Wisdom shows that human nature remains the same and hasn't changed since God created us, it's only technology that advances. Way to go Einstein. You should have realized that if you give a man a bigger stick, he's going to use it. We're always going to have the trolls with us which makes me a believer in that old saying that the Creator has a warped sense of humor.

Thadius, Woodburn

Some of those who inherit without working blow their money-idiots. Others who inherit but work in the industry actually grow the industry and provide jobs and incomes for others-brilliant. It is the latter that is being discouraged in this country by the communist minions holding office. We have been made fools of in this country now for about 60 years. We know it and if you had a spec of honor, you would join me in standing for the USA, God, and against those corrupt *&*! in Washington DC. It is not necessary to vote for those who have received the most money for their campaign. I beg you to stand! I beg you to walk past the panthers at the polls. I beg you to vote for the constitutional candidates while there is a glimmer of hope for liberty. We have the worst political field in office in the history of this country. Progressives are communists so what direction does that suggest we are headed unless we do something? Stand! Write, call, talk to your neighbors, be involved...that little boy or girl you love so much...may have to sell themselves to survive at the rate we are going today. We are in extremis...Thomas Jefferson was brilliant and the life he led at the time was the norm. As good people in America saw the way of slavery as wrong they changed it. It took time and now it is abhored by thinking people....yet we see that it will be back soon and those who live thru the change will be in chains whether visible or not.

Waffler, Smith

Good converstation y'all. and love seeing my handle brought up so often. I ask you again are we all decendent from just a few people. If Bill Gates could come back in two hundred years do you think he would recognize, know or give a damn about some snot nosed kid that inherited a billion dollars from him. I know people who have had 8 children, they have no idea how many great grand children they have and would not recoginze them in a line up of 5 people. Yet this great grandchild should inherit a free hand out. If you are for people being strong and working for themselves then why do you defend inhertitance so much. Alaskans and Kuwait's share the oil revenue of their "states". Does that make Sarah Palin a Communist. She increased the oil dole to the Alaskan people. I don't hate the uber rich, I admire Gates, Buffett and many others. My grandmother (died at 100) had a boyfriend who died a millionaire. People above who attack me know me not at all but they attack instead of thinking for themselves.

Justin, Elkland

It almost seems too obvious at this point.

Justin, Elkland

Waffler, you are quickly approaching troll status on this board.

Mike, Norwalk

Jamie, what level playing field are you referencing specifically? What taxes specifically? What share of taxes would be more proportionate? What measurement are you using to compare people working three jobs and the wealthy? What is your definition of wealthy? How do those wealthy that work 16 to 20 hours a day, risk everything they have continually to stay in business and give other people who don't want to risk it all good jobs with a livable wages compare to the poor people that are working three jobs? What difference does any of this make in a de jure representative republic that is limited by a constitutional government of law?

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, what do any of your examples have to do with a de jure representative republic limited by a constitutional government at law? The answer is; 'Absolutely Nothing!' To whom does the accumulation of one's life belong to after one's death? It doesn't matter how or from where the accumulation occurred.The answer for the Waffler worlders is: Any body they want to give it to; and, I have no right to it, either of myself or in concert with my neighbors. Waffler, what is the lawful nexus whereby disinterested parties have a right to another's (alive or dead) wealth (labors, accumulated materials, or otherwise) ? The answer: there is no lawful nexus, such wealth distribution is lawfully called plunder, theft, larceny, slavery, etc.

M.Brown, Florida

I think TJ was an amazing Founder.

Waffler The Troll, Smith

Archer thinks I hate the uber rich, I don't, that is why I mentioned Grandma's boyfriend. The current Chineese communist society has over 300,000 multi-millionaires, so those who want to bring up that old BS about communism should look around them and should get a little bit more knowledge. Oh! according to Merrill Lynch that million does not include real property. There is a difference I guess Mike the stuff you talk about "de jure republic" and the need for pragmatism in society. Super rich and super poor is in my value system a lousy way for society to operate, just as feudalism and the nobiltiy system of old Europe was a lousy system, and slavery was a lousy system and illegal aliens working for nothing in this country to make a few rich at the expense of our nation as a whole is a lousy system. Inheritance is welfare pure and simple. Most people are against welfare for people they don't know but think it is great for people they do know like their kids, so they are more than willing sometimes to give their kids handouts. Waffler The Troll, I like that I like it alot.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, OK, so, your innuendos left a lot more out than you tried to imply; but, you still didn't address any of my questions. Your explanation exposes a lot about your lack of substantive ties to family and, a lying liberal lip service to Luke 1:17 "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, also, your super rich and super poor are created, as Archer above stated, by the socialist despotism you so worship. That lousy system is the one that subsidizes poverty and through its theft of the noble laborer's fruit (through funny money, larceny called taxes, and otherwise) keeps the worker down and super rich in-charge of operating society.

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Nick    8/11/10

Troll is trolling. Chinese citizens are able to grow wealth now because they are moving away from pure communism and more in the direction of free markets. For more on this see Jim Rogers. Inheritance is not welfare. Welfare is money attained and redistributed through coercion. This is why people tend to not like it. Moral people are against the idea of using force to get what they want. The trolls entire world view depends on the use of force against others. He believes the use of violence will help to bring about his utopia. In this way he would make a lovely dictator. Inheritance is voluntarily given. If anything it is more like charity. But charity is a bad word to the troll. It implies that ones wealth belongs to himself and not the group.

Ron, Salem
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Ron, Salem    8/12/10

Industry and just labor relations guided by moral obligation to treat fairly ones neighbor. Not guided by greed for domination. But to spur new growth in a new nation. Liberty with out moral restraint promotes oppression by industry and government. So see to the rock upon which the republic rest for instruction and guidance at home and in industry and government. But thats old school is'nt it. Old ways are good ways.

Waffler, Smith

Most people wish for the kids to fare well. Thus they will give to their kids and grand kids fare of all kinds but especially money is appreciated. The further away from the feelings of family a person is the less this sense of caring about faring well exists. Eventually the feeling may become one of "oh go to hell". Now there are some classes of people who care about how every body fares even half way around the world and will give "welfare" to them even to a fault. Now I am not saying yes or no to helping people, all I am saying is your child no more earned the right to handouts from you (inheritance) than did the kid in Rwanda or Afghanistan. Inheritance is predicated on the idea that you want your kid to fare well. It is unearned by the receipeint either way. And I agree that recieving unearned and unmerited largess is bad whether it is from society, government or mom and dad. While I agree that ones wealth belongs to hisself I beg the question as to who is the group. I don't question the right of the individual I question the value of receiving hand outs whether or not it is from society or from mom and dad. Inheritance is unearned welfare!

E Archer, NYC

Here's the rub, Waffler. Your entire argument is predicated on your opinion -- which you are entitled to have -- and you expect everyone to have to share a single opinion in order for your 'policies' to be enforced. But it makes little sense. You say we should pay more taxes to keep the government welfare programs going, but that parents WHO HAVE EARNED their property fair and square (and already paid taxes on it) cannot share it with their own children. Essentially you equate the social 'state' with perpetual parents and that in fact parents do not even have a right to do with their own property what they wish. As a tax accountant, you know that I can give my kids money and property while I am alive but if I am dead, it is not mine to give but the state's. This is simply statism, a form of religion in which the deity is the current politico in power, exercising arbitrary power in accordance with his own ideas on 'how it should be.' Inheritance is not a handout -- it is lawful property being granted to another. By your definition, no one can help anyone without government permission. A family buys a farm, builds the barns, the houses for the family, the animals, the crops, then grandpa dies and it all goes to the state and the rest of the family goes on government welfare. How is this right? All you are promoting is permanent indentured servitude to the state and no one is allowed to become self-sufficient. Personally I think your argument is hypocritical because you inherited property from your parents -- why didn't you just donate it to the state? You are spouting communist rhetoric, Waffler. It is not just a difference of opinion, it is declaring the right to take from someone that which you did not earn and give to someone else (and taking a cut along the way). This deception is what property owners despise because people like you think we are merely sharing our opinions when in fact you are attempting to steal from others by using the 'law' to do it. So charity is bad, Waffler, in your world unless the government takes your property by force and then gives it to themselves to maybe later give it to someone else. BTW, the rich will always know how to get around inheritance taxes -- look at the Kennedy's -- when Teddy was being sued, it turned out that he owned nothing! There was nothing to take from him. But somehow they all have huge estates and wealth at their disposal. They wrote the game, and we have to pay for it. Wake up, man, you are not even getting anything out of this -- that's a devoted communist for you.

Sidney, Laurel, MD

Wow! So many of the commenters here clearly don't have a clue as to exactly what the American experiment was/is. The fact that entire text of was deliberately ommitted to alter the context of the provided portion, is not unexpected. The right does this alot. So, for the sake of truth, here is the portion that was omitted: "If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree ; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra-taxation violates it." You see, the founding fathers, contrary to modern conservative revisionist mythos, where allmost to a man, fervently opposed to inherited wealth. In a 1785 letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote, "The descent of property of every kind therefore to all children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." Yes, that's correct - Jefferson advocated for a geometricaly progressive estate tax! Also, Jefferson lead the Virginia legislature in 1777 in abolishing the promogeniture and entail laws which perpetuated the concentration of inherited wealth. Jefferson cited Adam Smith (the father of free market capitalism) when he worte, "A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural." Adam Smith actually said, "There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death." Benjamin Franklin agreed. He said, "Private a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exingencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt." BTW, Mike from Norwalk quoted Locke, not Jefferson - "Life, liberty, and Property". But Jefferson, while a fan of Locke, did not agree that property was an unalienable right. He was a bigger fan of Emerich de Vattel, who, in the single most important book used during the drafting of our constitution, "The Law of Nations", stated that the pursuit of happiness was a natural right. The present conservative notions about the accumulation of inherited wealth and the power that comes with it are very recent developments. Compared to the notions that our nation was founded upon, the modern notions should be considered un-American.

Proud Neocon, Smalltown, USA

GunnyCee, if someone can't work that is the same as refusing to work. Either way someone should work, or die from starvation. We have seen what the whiny commie demoncrat terrorists have done to America due to their hatred of this country.


We need an Obama quote on this. He has some good ones. Waffler would give them 5 stars.


I am fascinated by dems constant berating of inheritance since most of the dems elected to federal office got their wealth by inheritance. Part of the reason they feel that wealth is not earned. Most of the Republicans that are wealthy at the time of their election to office earned it. Those two facts say a lot about the attitudes the two parties have about wealth and private enterprise.

Jilan, Allendale

Read the book How to make a million dollars an hour by Les Leopold.

David Allan Cole, Lisbon ND 58054

"The property of this country is absolutely concentred in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards... I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on."
--Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, October 28,1785. ME 19:17, Papers 8:682

J. Perkins, New York, NY

How about not purposefully misleading people in regard to what Jefferson wrote? The full quote is as follows:

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it." If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra-taxation violates it. -Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, Apr. 6, 1816

The full context of the quote shows that Jefferson is actually talking about the the ill effects of inherited wealth on republican society. He says that if you're worried about the power of the rich, let everyone keep what they earn during their lifetime, but take it from them upon their death, as it's less unfair to take it from their children, who did not earn it.

John C. Davidson, Mt. Vernon, Ohio

Sounds like something we should all think about once again.

Ronw13, Yachats OR

The laws concerning inheritance, when so many preach the " ten commandments " crying morality. The greedy religious omit the laws of inheritance,barrow and lending practices with those at Liberty. Israel with every other nation, fights for their own home. As is the right of every individual. We lay up for our children ! It is the purpose of tyranny to confiscate and control another person or nations industry and skill. Dominating hearth and home oppressing the individual to submission ! Confiscate, buy and sell, for the sake of the few ! Over and over again ! Damn the children, who cares, as long as they are not yours ! The guide post of morality has become the whipping post of socialist equality.

Robert, Somewhere in Europe

These quotes (taken out of context) are totally out of order in a modern society, of even in a society of TJ 's time..... Thank you JP for reminding us of the full quote.

Robert, Somewhere in Europe

My suggestion to Liberty Quotes is to put quotes into the context of which they were expressed!

Mary - MI
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Mary - MI    5/3/16

On this wonderful quote from Thomas Jefferson I will refrain from wasting my time responding to the TROLL known as Waffler and his tentacled plundering colleagues living in complete and full out ignorance who despicably embrace The 10 Planks of the Communist Manifesto.

Mary - MI
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    Mary - MI    5/3/16

    My suggestion to Robert, Somewhere in Europe (I guess poor Robert does not exactly know which country he is residing in) that if you wish to view the whole quote that you can use your handy-dandy computer instrument and do your own personal homework and research to look up all the rest that Thomas Jefferson stated.

    E Archer, NYC

    Perhaps Robert should also take into context the amount of land these wealthy men laid claim to -- millions of acres. Jefferson was not talking about taxing a man's farm or homestead or his labors. Why is it that whenever liberals talk about taxing the property of the rich, the middle class take the hit? Jefferson was for equal inheritance, not state inheritance of private property.

    How much is too much? I understand that Ted Turner owns a quarter of Montana (and more). Something has got to give...

    GERALD, Los Angeles

    Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong hypocrite and slave owner.

    It was absurd of Thomas Jefferson to assert: "the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it" and then deprive both African Americans and Native American Indians the same right.
    He should have demonstrated his respect for liberty by releasing all of his slaves from bondage and should have demanded all other slave owners do the same.
    He should have become an abolitionist as soon as he wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
    At least Benjamin Franklin had the courage and wisdom to become an abolitionist while he lived.

    Dan, Milwaukee

    What Jefferson meant by "law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree" is that all estate assets have to be put in a temporary trust at death that dissolves all previous attachments and distributes the net assets in equal value to descendants with no strings attached. This mechanism is to lessen concentration of power in one individual (control from the grave).


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