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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826 John Bartlett

    The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.
          Summary View of the Rights of British America.
    When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God 1 entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
          Declaration of Independence.
    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; 2 that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
          Declaration of Independence.
    We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.
          Declaration of Independence.
    Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
          First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1801.
    Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations,—entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigour, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad;…freedom of religion; freedom of the press; freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected,—these principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.
          First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1801.
    In the full tide of successful experiment.
          First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1801.
    Of the various executive abilities, no one excited more anxious concern than that of placing the interests of our fellow-citizens in the hands of honest men, with understanding sufficient for their stations. 3 No duty is at the same time more difficult to fulfil. The knowledge of character possessed by a single individual is of necessity limited. To seek out the best through the whole Union, we must resort to the information which from the best of men, acting disinterestedly and with the purest motives, is sometimes incorrect.
          Letter to Elias Shipman and others of New Haven, July 12, 1801.
    If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few; by resignation, none. 4
          Letter to Elias Shipman and others of New Haven, July 12, 1801.
    When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property. 5
          Life of Jefferson (Rayner), p. 356.
    Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
          Notes on Virginia. Query xviii. Manners.
Note 1.
See Bolingbroke, Quotation 3. [back]
Note 2.
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights.—Constitution of Massachusetts. [back]
Note 3.
This passage is thus paraphrased by John B. McMaster in his “History of the People of the United States” (ii. 586): “One sentence will undoubtedly be remembered till our republic ceases to exist. ‘No duty the Executive had to perform was so trying,’ he observed, ‘as to put the right man in the right place.’” [back]
Note 4.
Usually quoted, “Few die and none resign.” [back]
Note 5.
See Appendix. Quotation 45.

See Also:
Thomas Jefferson: First Inaugural Address
Thomas Jefferson: Second Inaugural Address [back]