Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. As a reminder of how prescient he was, I offer the following collection of Jeffersonian quotes on issues confronting contemporary America.
on Our Declaration of War Against Iraq
It is much easier to avoid errors by having good information at first, than to unravel and correct them after they are committed.
on the Troop “Surge”
Peace is our most important interest, and a recovery from debt.
on Congress’s Continued Funding of the Iraq War
The privilege of giving or withholding moneys is an important barrier against the undue exertion of prerogative which if left altogether without control may be exercised to our great oppression.
on Treatment of “Enemy Combatants”
The General Assembly shall not have power to ... prescribe torture in any case whatever.
Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.
on Faith-Based Initiatives
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design
Read the bible then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature does not weigh against them. But those facts in the bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from god. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change of the laws of nature in the case he relates.
on Prayer in Public Schools
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
on “No Child Left Behind”
They pretended to praise and encourage education, but it was to be the education of our ancestors. We were to look backwards, not forwards, for improvement.
on the Scandal in the Justice Department
The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.
on the Self-Destructiveness of the Right-Wing's War on Science
Science is important to the preservation of our republican government.
on Stem Cell Research
The priests of the different religious sects ... dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.
on Human Responsibility for Global Warming
We want [a theory of climate] indeed for all the States, and the work should be repeated once or twice in a century, to show the effect of clearing and culture towards changes of climate.
on the White House’s Lack of Bipartisanship
The denunciation of the Democratic Societies is one of the extraordinary acts of boldness of which we have seen so many from the faction of monocrats. It is wonderful, indeed, that the President should have permitted himself to be the organ of such an attack on the freedom of discussion.
on the Proper Role of Religious Leaders
Preach a crusade against ignorance.
on Media Concern with the Personal Lives of Presidential Contenders
I shall... return with joy to that state of things, when the only questions concerning a candidate shall be, is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the Constitution?
on the Inefficiency of the Current Administration
Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government.
on Bush and the 2000 Election
To retain the office, when it is probable the majority was against him is dishonorable.
on the President’s Mangling of English
What has no meaning admits no explanation.
GEORGE W. BUSH PREDICTED IN JEFFERSON’S
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
on the Presidential Veto of Funding for Embryonic Stem-Cell Research
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
on the Bush EPA’s Conflict with California's Proposal to Reduce Carbon Emissions
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
on the Patriot Act
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.
on the Executive’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.