"Money and not morality is the principle of commerce and commercial nations."
by:
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source:
Thomas Jefferson letter to John Langdon, 1810. (*) Memorial Edition 12:376
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Reader comments about this quote:
Are you sure this is correct? This sounds like the exact opposite of what Jefferson would say. Actually, it sounds like something Hamilton would say.
 -- ThatOneGuy, Puertalibre     
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    I think he's refering to the seperation of organized religion and State here. Seems to fit in there anyway. In that case, the moral use of money would be a fine topic of discussion at this point.
     -- Anon     
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    I think that should read 'principal'
     -- Jack, London     
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    I agree this does not sound like Jefferson! Jack you raise a valid supposition. Principle means "a general truth or law" or "that which is inherent in anything". Principal means "first in rank, or importance" or "paramount". In either case I think one could have a good arguement or at least discussion with old Tom on this one and what is it he is actually trying to say. (Jim K. I responded to your inquiry of yesterday concerning "gold and goodwill" at yesterdays quote page.)
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    However you spell it, Jefferson is usually right.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    The source has been updated. More of the quote here: "Money and not morality is the principle of commerce and commercial nations... Justice, honor, faith, must yield to the necessity of keeping themselves in place. The question whether a measure is moral is never asked, but whether it will nourish the avarice of their merchants, or the piratical spirit of their navy, or produce any other effect which may strengthen them in their places... This is the true character of [such governments] in practice, however different [their] theory; and it presents the singular phenomenon of a nation, the individuals of which are as faithful to their private engagements and duties, as honorable, as worthy, as those of any nation on earth, and whose government is yet the most unprincipled [ever] known."
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
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    Much better... I'll give your updated version four stars
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Very good Editor, thank you. Now this sounds like the ever pragmatic Jefferson. The Obama reversal of the Bush torture regime or regimine is an example of Jefferson's idea of a nation being torn between what it knows is right morally and what it may do immorally to protect what it perceives as its own against other nations
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    Editor, why "update" the source to replace "English government" with "such governments"?

    The letter is about the British monarchy and Parliament.

    Jefferson states, "This is the true character of the English government in practice, however different its theory; and it presents the singular phenomenon of a nation, the individuals of which are as faithful to their private engagements and duties, as honorable, as worthy, as those of any nation on earth, and whose government is yet the most unprincipled at this day known."

    Isn't the letter about the power of incumbent government and its beholding to the factions to whom it owes its installation?
     -- Adam, College Station, TX     
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