• Thomas Jefferson Memorial evening shot

    Thomas Jefferson

    Memorial District of Columbia

Quotations

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

NPS/Nathan King

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Inscriptions:

Rotunda

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

-Excerpted from a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800.

Southwest Portico

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We...solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of a right ought to be free and independent states...and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour."

-Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence, 1776.

Northwest Portico

"Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens...are a departure from the plan of the holy Author of our religion...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively."

-Excerpted from A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, drafted in 1777. First introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779, after he had become Governor. Passed by the Virginia Assembly in 1786, while Jefferson was serving as Minister to France. The last sentence is excerpted from a letter to James Madison, August 28, 1789, as he was returning to America to assume his position as Secretary of State.

Northeast Portico

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan."

-Excerpted from multiple sources: "A Summary View of the Rights of British America," "Notes on the State of Virginia," "The Autobiography," letter to George Wythe (1790), letter to George Washington (1786).

Southeast Portico:

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

-Excerpted from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.