Monday, April 22, 2013

Words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson

About a year ago, on a visit to Washington DC, Walt spent some time in the Library of Congress. I wanted to see if their copy of the Gutenberg Bible was better than mine, and sure enough, it is. Mine has marginal notes in it, written by someone named Luther. But I digress...

Within the Library of Congress building is the library of Thomas Jefferson. Believe it or not, this collection -- now on permanent exhibition -- is only about a third of the 6487 volumes purchased from President Jefferson following the British burning of the Library of Congress in 1814. [Don't mention the War of 1812! Ed.] Over 4000 books and manuscripts were lost in a second fire in 1851.

Jefferson's library was always critically important to him. Books provided the little-travelled president with a broader knowledge of the contemporary and ancient worlds than most of his contemporaries enjoyed, despite broader personal experience.

Jefferson was a voracious reader, and developed a deep understanding of the nature of God and man, of God's laws and previous failed or flawed attempts by men to govern themselves. He himself wrote extensively on matters of history and politics. Agent 6 has sent along a few select quotes from one of America's greatest founding fathers.
  • When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
  • Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government
  • No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
  • 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.
  • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
  • To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
Click here to read John Petrie's collection of Thomas Jefferson quotes on politics, government, philosophy, religion, and life in general -- "a voice from the past to lead us in the future".

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