Tag Archives: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on Counteracting Selfishness

clipped from etext.virginia.edu

“Self-love… is the sole antagonist of virtue, leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others. Accordingly, it is against this enemy that are erected the batteries of moralists and religionists, as the only obstacle to the practice of morality. Take from man his selfish propensities, and he can have nothing to seduce him from the practice of virtue. Or subdue those propensities by education, instruction or restraint, and virtue remains without a competitor.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, 1814. ME 14:140
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Thomas Jefferson on Moral Degeneracy

From this I would deduce that control of the education system is imperative to overthrow a free people.
clipped from etext.virginia.edu
“When [the moral sense] is wanting, we endeavor to supply the defect by education, by appeals to reason and calculation, by presenting to the being so unhappily conformed, other motives to do good and to eschew evil, such as the love, or the hatred, or the rejection of those among whom he lives, and whose society is necessary to his happiness and even existence; demonstrations by sound calculation that honesty promotes interest in the long run; the rewards and penalties established by the laws; and ultimately the prospects of a future state of retribution for the evil as well as the good done while here.
These are the correctives which are supplied by education, and which exercise the functions of the moralist, the preacher, and legislator; and they lead into a course of correct action all those whose depravity is not too profound to be eradicated.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, 1814. ME 14:142
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Thomas Jefferson on Morality in Government Administration

Thomas also has another good quote (at the site) on what religions have in common that benefit us all. When the church loses sight of its uniqueness as an institution we all suffer for it. The church needs to see itself and the state as two separate God created institutions with two separate roles. They are interdependent, but separate entities. When they do what they were made to do the world receives a blessing. When they don’t – we have what is happening today in the world.
clipped from etext.virginia.edu

“When we come to the moral principles on which the government is to be administered, we come to what is proper for all conditions of society… Liberty, truth, probity, honor, are declared to be the four cardinal principles of society. I believe… that morality, compassion, generosity, are innate elements of the human constitution; that there exists a right independent of force.” –Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1816. ME 14:490

“[I consider] ethics, as well as religion, as supplements to law in the government of man.” –Thomas Jefferson to Augustus B. Woodward, 1824. ME 16:19

“Is it the less dishonest to do what is wrong, because not expressly prohibited by written law? Let us hope our moral principles are not yet in that stage of degeneracy.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:360
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Thomas Jefferson on National Moral Responsibility

We have been free for so long that we have forgotten our moral responsibility as a group (nation). I think we all have a responsibility to help raise the consciousness of our nation. We have to talk and speak up.

Oddly enough, my conscience was awoken to this when I was reading the Lord’s Prayer and noted Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray. He said “forgive US our debts”. I was accustom to praying in the singular, for myself, “Father forgive ME for my debts”. Jesus was about 30 years old at the time and about 40 years removed from the collapse of his nation. It goes without question He saw the destructive path his nation was on.

clipped from etext.virginia.edu

“A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.” –Thomas Jefferson to George Hammond, 1792. ME 16:263

“It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately.” –Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 1816. FE 10:68

“If the morality of one man produces a just line of conduct in him acting individually, why should not the morality of one hundred men produce a just line of conduct in them acting together?” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. ME 7:450, Papers 15:367

“The laws of humanity make it a duty for nations, as well as individuals, to succor those whom accident and distress have thrown upon them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1807. ME 11:144

“Moral duties [are] as obligatory on nations as on individuals.” –Thomas Jefferson: The Anas, 1808. ME 1:480
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Jefferson’s Danbury “wall of separation” Letter Exposed

I find myself more and more in line with Jefferson’s thinking politically.
clipped from www.loc.gov

‘A Wall of Separation’
FBI Helps Restore Jefferson’s Obliterated Draft
A key document on view in “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic” (see LC Information Bulletin, May 1998), is the letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, which contains the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state.” With the help of the FBI, the draft of the letter, including Jefferson’s obliterated words, are now known.
computer technology could be used to uncover Jefferson’s inked-out words
the entire draft of the Danbury Baptist letter is now legible (below).
By examining both documents, viewers will be able to discern Jefferson’s true intentions in writing the celebrated Danbury Baptist letter.

draft of letter after preservation

Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists
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Thomas Jefferson on Moral Consequences

“The principles of Jefferson are the axioms of a free society.” –Abraham Lincoln

A brief update on my progress in reading the Jefferson quotes:

I. The Fundamentals of Government

# Inalienable Rights — COMPLETED
# Securing Rights — COMPLETED
# Moral Principles — IN PROGRESS
# Moral Degeneracy
# The Sovereignty of the People
# The Safest Depository

clipped from etext.virginia.edu

“The sentiments of men are known not only by what they receive, but what they reject also.” –Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. ME 1:28

“Mischief may be done negatively as well as positively.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813. ME 13:397

“Most virtues when carried beyond certain bounds degenerate into vices.” –Thomas Jefferson to Chastellux, 1785.

“It is reasonable that every one who asks justice should do justice.” –Thomas Jefferson to George Hammond, 1792. ME 16:227

“The art of life is the art of avoiding pain; and he is the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset.” –Thomas Jefferson to Maria Cosway, 1786. ME 5:439
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Thomas Jefferson on Moral Examples

clipped from etext.virginia.edu
Everything is useful which contributes to fix us in the principles and practice of virtue. When any signal act of charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and grateful acts also. On the contrary, when we see or read of any atrocious deed, we are disgusted with its deformity and conceive an abhorrence of vice. Now every emotion of this kind is an exercise of our virtuous dispositions; and dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise. But exercise produces habit, and in the instance of which we speak, the exercise being of the moral feelings, produces a habit of thinking and acting virtuously.” –Thomas Jefferson to Robert Skipwith, 1771. ME 4:237, Papers 1:76
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