Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. He was a landowner (some 5000 acres inherited from his father) and a lawyer. During this time, he also began planning the building of his home, Monticello. The biography of him on, says this about him: “Freckled and sandy-haired, rather tall and awkward, Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause.” He was the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence. Before becoming president of the United States, he succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785. He lost the presidential election of 1796, but became vice-president under John Adams. In 1800, he won the election, and became the third president of the young country. During his presidency, the US made the Louisiana Purchase, effectively doubling the size.

After leaving the presidency, he retired to Monticello, which is a beautiful home and I urge anyone who visits the Washington DC area to tour it. During this period, he sold his collection of books to the government to form the nucleus of the Library of Congress, so you see, this ties in nicely with National Library Week. At the age of 76, he spearheaded the founding of the University of Virginia, where he designed its buildings, created its curriculum, and served as its first rector.

He died July 4, 1826, at 83 years of age.

Of course, Jefferson was a prolific writer and left us a collection of brilliant quotes. Here are a sampling of them.


Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.

I cannot live without books. (which I have on a T-Shirt, bought at the Library of Congress)

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.

What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?

I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.

I have ever deemed it more honorable and more profitable, too, to set a good example than to follow a bad one.

Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Skill is knowing how to do it. Virtue is doing it.

Whenever people are well-informed they can be trusted with their own government.

Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.

You can read the Declaration of Independence here:

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at