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

Thomas Jefferson Quote

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson
~ Thomas Jefferson

Attributed - no source found in Jefferson's writings

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

Now that the second, and so many of the people are acting in complicity, in abandoning the Constitution, the legalized criminals freely construct and enforce compelled compliance, license, larceny with impunity - including theft of the noble laborer's fruits, victimless crimes, forced ID/insurance/charity, torture for information, suspension of habeas corpus, suspension of public religious expression, etc., etc., etc.

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Anonymous    2/29/08

Hmmm. I bet TJ would be writhing in pain and disgust in his grave if he knew what had become of his beloved Republic. What would he say?

jim kilpatrick, austin,tx

We live in a police state, it's just a little nicer than the ones in Cuba, N Korea,etc. The war on Drugs is a great example, check it out on the website, . Yes, Thomas Jefferson would be sorrowful if he could see what our government has become.

Logan, Memphis, TN

There is so much information packed into this quote; Jefferson had a unique ability of speaking with brevity.

E Archer, NYC

Government is a necessary EVIL. It is an enemy of the people -- that is why it is to be chained down by the Constitution. The idea that government is anything better than this is a delusion we cannot afford to entertain.

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Anonymous    3/7/08


Nancy, Marion, OH

Too late. It's already happened. We need to hard and as quickly as possible to turn this ship around.

Joni, Newfield, NJ

It may be too late - Unfortunately the second has so misconstrued the intent of the constitution to fit their greed that they may have already morphed into the first. We could use a Thomas Jefferson today.

Matt, Danville, Ca

There is still hope to turn around the criminal government using the constitution. Us the people to pull together and vote wisely! Start by voting out all incumbent politicians. Most of the politicians first go into office with good intentions but are soon influenced by the same old do nothing political leaders. At the end of your term your gone, watch the system flush it self out. Second, vote for campaign reform. Lets face it how can you go into office and work for the people when you're in debt to those special interest groups that contributed to your election. This would be a nice start in the right direction.

Nancy, OH
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    Nancy, OH    8/12/09

    And that, my dear Mr Jefferson, is why we have tea parties in 2009. Alas, we've been guilty of the complacency you once referred to, that comes with having abundance.

    A Voice from Connecticut, shoreline of CT

    Bravo, Thomas Jefferson. You had great foresight and it's almost eerie that you could predict our current frightening future. We need to vote the people out of office who seek to destroy the foundations that our forefathers created. Jefferson and Adams knew what tyranny and oppression were and fought against it vigorously. We need to STAND up and be heard. Congress is elected by us, to represent us, to listen to us and to work for us but apparently, they think otherwise. I don't care what party, you're affiliated with. This is a matter of crisis. It's a spider web effect of a frightening group who has taken hold in government, corporations and will be our opressors if we allow it. If you don't believe it, do some research. Read about the advisors that didn't have to be Senate approved. Even that's totally outrageous. STAND UP AMERICA because your freedom is very fragile and disappearing! Help us Thomas Jefferson!

    Joe Winpisinger, Naples

    This sums up the whole sorry ass situation we are in right now as nation.

    Jimmy, Annapolis

    What is the source for this quote? An address? Letter? Memior? Where else did Jefferson use "legalized" in a twentieth century fashion?

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    Anonymous    1/29/10


    Robin, Michigan

    Thank God for our Founding Fathers, they have saved us thus far...brilliant. Join a Tea Party, kick the majority out, start vetting more seriously and make some repeals!

    sg, st. louis

    Can anyone say this is a bad quote? I'd love to hear them...

    David, Hillsboro, Oregon

    Too late...where did America go?

    Stop The Police State, Los Angeles

    Bill, PA
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    Bill, PA    1/30/10

    What makes individuals such as Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Lincoln so truly respected was not just their words but the content of their character that is necessary to give what they said true impact and meaning. This manipulative, elitist, and progressive president currently put in power to finish off the transformation of our Republic is an empty suit when it comes to character. He is an ideologue who is neither intellectually honest nor grounded when it comes to understanding the individual, god-given rights of every human being. These progressives, Marxists, or radical Socialists put themselves in the position of being our saviors on Earth simply because they think any problem can be micro-managed by their 'superior intellect'. They are pathetically miserable, unhappy souls who are incapable of anything other than promoting the coersive power of government to compel productive people to submit to their control. They should be pitied. But first, let us rise up and throw them out of seats of power, and reinstate the Constitution, referred to by Frederick Douglas, as a 'glorious liberty document'.

    Mike Thamarus, Fairfield, PA

    A truly prescient view from a respected hero.

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    Anonymous    4/12/10

    Love the quote and love TJ, but he never wrote this. Only the "chains of the Constitution" is his writing. Still, the point is taken.

    Anonymous, oneida

    Crazy conspiracy theorist.

    Ken, Rutledge

    The actual quote is: "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 Jefferson: Note in Tracy's "Political Economy," 1816.

    truth_seeker, San Antonio

    You IDIOTS, ... This is a BOGUS quote. Jefferson NEVER said such a thing ... IDIOTS ...

    Chuck D, Chicago

    I have searched for this quote through all my quite substantial reference materials, and have been unable to identify it as a genuine Jefferson quote. I believe it to be a fabrication. One dead giveaway is the syntax used. 19th century syntax would have stated the quote as: "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so as not to become a legalized version of the first." or "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us bind the latter down with the chains of the Constitution so as not to become a legalized version of the former." The "chains of the Constitution" reference is to be found in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 protesting the Alien and Sedition Acts and reads: "In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

    Anonymous, Sterling, VA

    Thomas Jefferson NEVER wrote this quote. It is FALSE. See Jefferson Motecello website for refutation of quote. It is not in any of Jefferson's writings.

    Constitution-Bound, Bulverde, TX

    I too would question the origin and validity of this "quote".

    US citizen, living in France

    It's time to do the unthinkable and people haven't been pushed to the "have to" point yet. But we must vote with our dollars. Quit our jobs, park our cars, turn off our energy, grow our own food sources. Then what is big corporation with no customers....dust in empty bank vaults that's what!!

    Reality, Earth

    Jefferson never said it.

    Reality, Earth

    And he never wrote it.

    Sick N Tired, Wolfeboro, NH

    Well, I think it does not matter if Jefferson said it or not. History would show the statement has some validity. So let's say Jefferson did not say it. It should be considered anyway. A saying does not have to be by someone well known to have merit.
    You folks who are getting so upset about this not being an actual Jefferson quote sound to me like people who are arguing over global warming. Duh, the issue is human pollution!

    Repleaningleft, lake wales

    It's amazing that even if Jefferson didn't say it how many people are so willing to accept it without checking it out.

    It's an altered version of an Ayn Rand quote It goes: "There are two potential violators of mans rights: the criminals and the government. The great achievement of the United States was to draw a distinction between these two by forbidding to the second the legalized version of the activities of the first."

    Why not do your homework first? If you don't it sure makes you look unintelligent!


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