Philosophy is common sense with big words.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind, and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect. [Letter to William Bradford Jr. April 1 1774]
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. [Letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803]
Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.... During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment.
It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.
A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.
A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.
America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.
All that seems indispensible in stating the account between the dead and the living, is to see that the debts against the latter do not exceed the advances made by the former.
The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
Any reading not of a vicious species must be a good substitute for the amusements too apt to fill up the leisure of the labouring classes.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.