Saturday, March 16, 2013

Quotes from a most quotable Deist

From John Petrie's Collection of Thomas Jefferson Quotes:
  • I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
  • An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.
  • The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.
  • I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
  • 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.
  • I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
  • “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.” (Quoting Cesare Beccaria)
  • 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.
I'm sure most readers are familiar with Jefferson's ideas. Despite the fact that he was merely a Deist and believed a great deal of nonsense he acquired from representatives of the French Enlightenment, or Endarkenment, in Paris -- e.g., "I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature"; and "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty" -- and owned slaves, and so forth, I am always amazed at the genius of the man -- the fact that he studied Latin, Greek and French at age 9; entered the College of William and Mary at age 16; started his own law practice at age 23; was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses at age 25; wrote the Declaration of Independence (a literary masterpiece) at age 33; served as Governor of Virginia, and in Congress in his early 40s, and as Secretary of State under Washington, and as Vice President and President of the American Philosophical Society; became the head of the Republican Party at age 55, and was elected the third president of the U.S. two years later (then for a second term when he was 61); obtained the Louisiana Purchase, effectively doubling the nation's size; created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.

You may recall the quip by John F. Kennedy at a dinner he held at the White House for some of the brightest minds of the nation during his administration: "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."


I am not Spartacus said...

I am still impressed with his knowledge of wine. His classification of French wine was retained by the French essentially the same since his original classification.

Oh, and he was not the Father of any of the issues of Sally Hemmings. As noted by POTUS, Adams, in a letter to his highly intelligent wife, Jefferson only sent for Sally to come to France because the nanny numero was ill.

If she was TJ's lover, he would have brought her with him in the first place - the French would have had no problem with that

Pertinacious Papist said...

Thanks for the bit about his classification of French wines. I hadn't known about that. I do recall your interest in cabernets, particularly from your recommendation of how to enjoy the presidential election. =)