Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

Post 24--:

The past few posts have been a bit heavy and, for some, perhaps a bit dull. Let me redeem myself with something "light," quotations from Thomas Jefferson (1746-1826), one of the authors of the American "Declaration of Independence." In reality, there is nothing light about these quotes. Every quote is worthy of time and serious consideration. But here is an internationally highly revered historical genius who, let's face it, sounds like today's Tea Party in the US, the group that today is highly "irrevered," at least in Canada, as something akin to a bunch of crackpots not to be taken seriously.

I must confess that I have not done research into the accuracy of each of these statements. I have decided to simply assume they are genuine quotes from Jefferson. Given today's discussions and arguments, I think they are extremely interesting and, to me at least, surprising. I present them here for your edification, reflection and debate, but not because I agree with all of them. You will find parenthetical comments from yours truly under each quote.

Before I proceed, here is a relevant Kennedy story--or myth?

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

The Quotes:

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
(Jefferson should know: He spent many years in Europe as American
diplomat. To make it more contemporary, an Al-Jazeera article of December 2, 2010, makes claims of serious corruption and wastage on the part of the European Union.)

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
(Do please note that he wrote "would not," not, "could not," a slight

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
(Do we routinely contract trans-generational debt because we have
grown in wisdom, understanding and economic knowledge since
Jefferson's days? Just a question!)

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
(Though I would hardly reject all government responsibility for
supporting the poor and vulnerable in society, try applying the quote
to our current practice in Canada and see where you end up.)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
(I could not agree more.)

No free man shall ever be debarred from the use of arms.
(I could not agree less, especially in view of the next one.)

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
(Do we really expect a situation in North America where we feel so
threatened by our governments that we need arms to keep them at
bay? Under normal circumstances, we do not need that. When circum-
stances demand it, we will have reached such chaos that law no longer
is in effect. Of course, Jefferson lived during the American revolution.
There was war and chaos.)

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
(This may be a trend in history, but to assert this as a historical law
is unacceptable to me. Liberty under threat has more than once been
released by public leaders who amassed the power of the people to force
change and refreshment without resort to bloodshed. I am the heir to
such a revolution started in The Netherlands by Abraham Kuyper.)

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
(A modern example in many North American provinces and states is where
your tax money goes to schools run on basis of secularism, even though
you disagree with that philosophy. Another is when governments spend my
tax money on abortion.)

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.
(Why does this quote sound so contemporary?!)

Enjoy your reflections and debates.

I do hope that the Jeffersonian origin of these quotes will never prove to be a hoax!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a genius - his words still ring loudly and are very pertinent to our time! Thanks for taking the time to pluck those quotes from your sources.