Essay on Quotations of Thomas Jefferson


This phrase has become a well-known phrase, especially for those who support the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It has been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, and reputable sources have used the first part of it …

When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

The full paragraph:

When governments fear the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny. 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 phrase was first (known) used by John Basil Barnhill in his Rip-Saw Liberty Library pamphlet No. 101, entitled Indictment of Socialism in 1914. The phrase can be found in Section 3, § 2, p. 34:

Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.

Mr. Barnhill did not state that the phrase came from Thomas Jefferson, so one assumes it is his original wording.
Nicole Saidi, CNN wrote of the use of this phrase or variations of it:

Some readers worked to debunk it by mentioning Monticello.org, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s website, which has a section devoted to “spurious” quotations that have been attributed to the third president of the United States. The website lists several variations of the quotation, featured on two pages, and says staff “have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote” those words. … For others, the message of the quotation rings true even if the quotation isn’t entirely accurate. A commentator named Henry from Charlotte, North Carolina, said he read through the Monticello page, but he isn’t ready to declare that the comment is fake.

I do not know if Jefferson actually ever made such a statement or not, (but) I find it odd that many people attribute it to him if it wasn’t true. It’s ridiculous in my opinion to propose that since nowhere in his writings there is trace of such a statement, then Jefferson has never said something like that. Jefferson could have come up with those words in any occasion of his public or private life and someone else recorded and then quoted him.

The earliest reference and attribution of this phrase to Thomas Jefferson was in a 1989 editorial.
Of course, progressives are noticing this, which also in their defense of their agenda against the Second Amendment implythat …

…the Second Amendment is invalid because those who wrote it were slave owners, oppressed women and were short on tolerance.

So, does that mean that the Constitution and its amendments are invalid because of that reason, or perceived reasons, considering the comments made against slavery by many of the Founders?
If so, there is no First Amendment, then progressives are not authorized to condemn anything and no one is afforded freedom of religion. Of course, that amendment not pertaining to Christians today, according to the doctrine of progressive, democratic-socialists and the elite establishment.
Stephen Holbrook, attorney and author of The Founders’ Second Amendment, stated:

For years I’ve seen bogus quotes on gun issues in the Internet. Since the Founding Fathers were so positive on Second Amendment rights, I couldn’t understand why anyone would feel compelled to invent quotes. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and served two terms as president. He personally possessed numerous firearms for hunting, target shooting, collecting, self-defense and defense against tyranny. He deemed being armed the mark of a true citizen. The American Revolution was won by an armed populace against the British standing army.

I must raise my hand in guilt, for I have used that phrase and attributed it to Thomas Jefferson, not as a means to provide false attributions, but because I had taken it from responsible and viable resources, so wrongly thought that it was actually written by Thomas Jefferson. However, whoever stated it, this is in the same vein the various Founders felt about the rights and liberties of the People of the United States and how important freedom and liberty, especially limited power of the government, that is contained within the US Constitution and its amendments.
It was a travesty that early Americans, former colonists turned citizens of the United States, would have had documentation that preached that all men are created equal, yet still allowed states to have slaves. There were measures to encourage states to move away from the practice, but it was feared that unification of the states would be impossible if the issue was forced. It was the same problem that Abraham Lincoln faced when elected. democratic-socialists, especially in the linked article mentioned above, would have us believe that Thomas Jefferson and other Founders abused their wives. On the contrary, most of those wives have diaries and letters that show otherwise. No doubt according to documents, the slavery issue was indeed a subject to be reckoned with but at the same time keep the states unified.
Brainy Quotes has been regarded as a good site to obtain quotations, and that phrase is attributed to Thomas Jefferson there. Therefore, I have come to ignore quotations that do not have the document or material from which it came from. I have spent days pouring through my personal library of Thomas Jefferson papers, looking for anything he wrote from which this particular phrase could be recognized. However, there is much there, as well as in the papers of George Washington, John Adams, James Monroe, and Alexander Hamilton to see why the Second Amendment was so important and added into the Bill of Rights, the original ten amendments to the US Constitution.
The website, John Petrie’s Collection of Thomas Jefferson Quotes also lists quotes, but does not provide the exact source – be it a letter, Jefferson’s diary, or whatever. The quote in question (fear of government) is in the list. However, there are other quotations pertaining to the right to keep and bear arms and other quotes pertaining to the constitutional crisis today … (Source: The Works of Thomas Jefferson, 12 volumes, originally published in 1904; Paul Leicester Ford, editor)
  • 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. [focus upon “last resort”]
  • Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. [from Essay on Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria] However, it was in Jefferson’s writings as a quoted notation and he gave the source as Cesare Beccaria. Jefferson owned a copy of the Italian’s work as well as an English translation, published in London in 1809, later sold to the Library of Congress.
  • The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.
  • To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association – the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it. [This is clear that Jefferson was against income and wealth redistribution by government, and the progressive income tax system that citizens bear today]
  • I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. [In Barack Obama’s second inaugural (coronation) speech he mentioned the Founders and the Constitution, but apparently chose to ignore this line of thought against big government and income redistribution – of which Obama publicly has proclaimed is his policy, as well as Joe Crazy Biden)
  • Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
  • The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
  • The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
  • God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is natural manure.
  • He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
  • I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.
  • Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.
  • The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
  • A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
  • History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.
  • If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
  • It is better to tolerate that rare instance of a parent’s refusing to let his child be educated, than to shock the common feelings by a forcible transportation and education of the infant against the will of his father.
  • The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.
In closing, Thomas Jefferson is the most quoted of the Founding Fathers. It is not so much that he was wiser than John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, or others – but because he was the most prolific writer. He was a major figure because he was educated in the classics and lived in an age where Enlightenment was principle and logic was encouraged. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson was a man of logic, in all things, even in religion:

I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature. …In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty.

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, published in 2009, digital editions available, consists of 36 volumes. Four volumes contain writings between Jefferson’s private life and his death in 1826, mostly correspondence to friends and associates.
The truth of the quotation is more important than who stated it, however it is always good practice to provide attributions to where its origination.

The following is a pertinent video that includes the questionable quote, but much more in the defense of the Second Amendment and recent assault against by BH Obama and friends:

This video was made by Cato Institute in response for Obama’s clearly deceptive State of the Union speech …

 

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