"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.
We must make our election between economy and liberty
or profusion and servitude.
If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and
in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and
our amusements, for our calling and our creeds...
[we will] have no time to think,
no means of calling our miss-managers to account
but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves
to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers...
And this is the tendency of all human governments.
A departure from principle in one instance
becomes a precedent for [another ]...
till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery...
And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt.
Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Letter to Samuel Kercheval, Monticello, July 12, 1816
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous 
Our 'rulers' seem increasingly to be corporations. Somehow this seems to escape notice.
 -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA
This needs to be sent to the white house with MILLIONS OF CITIZENS SIGNATURES ATTACHED!
 -- Jerry Penny, Rockwall Texas
This quote was prophetic and in reaction to what, I believe, the settlers saw as a dangerous and socially debilitating entity: the government. It is happening and will continue until society is again reduced to serfdom.
 -- Eugene T. King, New York
We must awaken every US citizen to what our "rulers" are doing to us. We must all act to stop it, such as implementing term limits on our representatives, and eliminating the IRS and income taxes. Hold our representatives accountable (loss of office, perhaps fines or prison) for NOT upholding the oath they swore ... to defend the Constitution.
 -- Joel, Rochester, MI
 -- Dick Trice, Fort Worth, TX 
Which of the mice will be bold enough to tie a bell on the cat? And still survive, of course! The speed of his probable demise will only be exceeded by the haste with which the other mice distance themslves from him and run for shelter in their holes.
 -- john-douglas, nassau
 -- Rick B, New York City 
Not only was this prophetic, but Jefferson knew his history: these schemes had failed in the paste, namely, with the Roman Empire. We are knee-deep in the molasses of debt, and EVERYTHING he stated has surely come to pass. http://www.geocities.com/rebornempowered/mandrake/mandrake.htm
 -- David, Wichita
Ron Paul 2008!
 -- Anonymous
 -- Anonymous
Thomas Jefferson was our prophetic American Revolution version of Nostradamus.
 -- Melissa, Texas
You did it to your own selves. Justice is what supports our currency; keep electing crooks and refuse to accord women equal protection but lie and pretend you have and debt is what results: Being in the red - a negative bond rate or actual blood as people die. It is not too late as I'm in federal court suing over this very issue as the real, actual reason you cannot elect persons who break the law by purchasing the office of the Executive i.e. Executive Order or justice which then is the purchase our very lives ad/or do business with nations like China (or grant corportations who do unfair advantage via policy) is it is not possible for their citizens to return the honor bond which every US dollar is: a life and death signed federal honor bound contract- exactyl like our Declaration and Constitution. And yes, I thoroughly enjoy having been proven correct regarding almost everything I ever said. I am not a prophet but a scientist as the economy is a science not a religion as some of you seem to believe. Voodoo economics indeed...if I had not already risen from my grave I would have when you allowed the Congress to give their fellow crooks who then in turn fund their campaigns MORE MONEY as a reward for violating the law of the US and of physics. Minting money is not the same as printing it up to fund your legislation; that - printing it up to then fund your legislation when it does not exist? - that would be creating energy, a power reserved to God not Congress. Congress is now in violation of physics as well as the Constitution.
 -- T. Jefferson, Neptune Beach, FL
What a man! He is right on. Reagan/Bush/Bush has put us into debt and now we must be taxed to pay for it. Jefferson is prophetic. We will have more freedom and money once we pay off our debt, lets get started!
 -- Waffler, Smith
 -- Mike, Norwalk 
As if Obama was not taking us into debt beyond our belief.......... Government, Government hacks, the National Education Association, and those who profess to be religious who argue that Jefferson's letter to Danbury was part of the constitution with "Separation" should really promote these words as being part of the US Constitution! bnyoung@metrocast.net
 -- Niel Young, Laconia,NH
This quote is an example of why the "powers-that-be" in our present society want to erase or edit what is taught in our schools, about the history of the U.S.A. Forewarned is forearmed, and everything Jefferson said in that quote is proving to be true, with this administration sealing our doom (which they call "CHANGE,") and seducing the naive Liberals that idolize Obama and his policies... with no thought to the chilling outcome of such an agenda.
 -- Nancy Grigsby, Franklin
Niel you must realize that only money spent by republicans are waste. All money spent by Obama and any dem does not count. Waffler has never and will never take his head out of the sand.
 -- warren, olathe
 -- Victor, Oliver Springs Tn.
Let us get started to pay the debt we have racked up. Jefferson is right and it is time for our wretchedness and oppression. Thanks to Reagan/Bush/Bush we have more than earned it. Since we were stupid enough to suffer them now we must suffer ourselves for our stupidity.
 -- Waffler, Smith
And Obama takes us further away from the principles that employed to form the greatest country on earth. Our illustrious president is completely lacking in knowledge about the dangers of leviathan indebtedness. And oppression is progressing at the speed of light in 2009.
 -- Nancy, Marion
Obama ignores all warnings and education provided by those wise Founders that created the most powerful and wonderful nation on earth. What you see occurring now cannot be blamed on Bush, though he certainly contributed, for what you see happening now is purely Obama's doing; Obama's far outdone the previous administration and leads us headlong into the abyss.
 -- Nancy, Marion
Read the Healthcare bill (HR3200) on thomas.loc/gov 1,018 pages. I read it all. I was speechless and shocked, but not surprised. I wonder how many legislators have actually taken the time to go over it with a "fine tooth comb"? Jefferson lives through his great words of wisdom. He laid the foundation of this nation. Oh, if he was only alive today!
 -- A Jefferson Fan, CT
Another reason, Thomas Jefferson was my favorite president. If anyone claims to be smarter than our Founding Fathers, they have a serious problem...LOL. This should definitely be sent to the politicians in Washington D.C. by many and signed with our names at the bottom in agreement. TJ rocks!
 -- Anonymous
I wonder if Jefferson would have sold our childrens futures to CHINA .Our gov. has forgotten the basics on how this country was built and who gave there lives so our children can live FREE .
 -- Robert Moody, Sugar Land Texas
What can one say about the wrongs done to the children of this country. Does the king tax his children or strangers. Usery practiced upon a natons on children are against the laws of God handed down in a book the Old 66, Which is the rock upon which the republic rest. If our goverment in the U.S. can not get out of bed with the banks, Federal reserve,It and the both of them should be thrown into the ditch. Debt incurred through usery upon us should be null and void ! jueballie ever fifty years.
 -- R. Pittman, Salem OR
....truly, our forefather's would have been shooting by now!
 -- Rick, Hobart, In
 -- Anonymous 
Because he was a prolific letter writer, Thomas Jefferson could well be the Buffet Founding Father. As we see here people take what they want and leave the rest on the table. So an extremely complicated, complex man is reduced to a few quotes, literally a one dimensional cartoon character. What people here ignore is that Jefferson often wrote one thing and did another. In this quote he railed against debt, yet he himself was constantly in debt with his farm business. Further as President he had no problem in secretly running up the country's debt. Let's not forget for all his brilliance Thomas Jefferson was often wrong and in the end was a POLITICIAN who loved POWER for himself.
 -- Jim H, Burke VA
You gotta love how people throw arouind terms that in context are useless. I see posts with "founding fathers" this and "founding fathers" that. Is there some approved list somewhere as to who is in and who is out? Then you act as if they are of one mind. Some of these so-called founding fathers were Federalists, others were Anti-Federalists, while still others were in between. Some thought we needed a Bill of Rights while others didn't. Some wanted the Constitution ratified and others didn't. Necessarily they would be totally ignorant about 21st century America. Some wanted America to be this great agrarian society while others wanted a great industrial nation. I wouldn't want Benjamin Franklin working on my electrical system. Even an apprentice today knows more than Franklin did. Similarly I wouldn't want Alexander Hamilton as my stock broker either. He would be ignorant about most of modern day finances. There is just no factual, objective basis for to prove that any "founding father", is so much smarter than anyone else here in the 21st Century.
 -- Jin H, Burke, VA
I refuse to be too dumb to realise that our republic has been dismantled and perverted by democracy and conservatives and liberals and capitolism, of which none of these terms come from the constitution, and so have no ties to real freedom or any kind of liberty! Just look in the index of your constitution (cause your too lazy to actually look for them by reading the entire thing) you will find none of these terms! Oh but they threw in a five fun facts about democracy though, and in two of the quotes you will still not find the term democracy, funny that! Any one who has taught constitutional law and still preaches democracy is as proof of total coruption as the proof in the five bs quotes the same crookes added to constitutional hand books to indoctrinate us into the corupt form of government controled by a fake queer eye for the straight guy mannered yuppie wimp corporate manufactered culture, who systematically break our faith in our constitution and in the forefathers by corrupting it themselves and saying: see look how dumb the fathers were what did they know, and all the while supporting violent fascist organsations and hiring the scum of the earth to enforce their tyrannical uncostitutional laws! And for you cult worshipers of Obama you should read Adorno's book on the culture industry and the manufaturing of cult personalities which was exactly why Socrates hated democracy! But what did he know cause we are more evolved than him right? Yeah right!
 -- True believer in freedom, Denver
 -- Spooky, pembroke GA. 
 -- Ralph Caselnova, M.D., orient, NY 
Our greatest President. And Waffler, FDR and Obama racked up more debt than Reagan.
 -- cal, lewisville, tx
We've all bought into this with the system of Usury our bankers promote. And we've all got our money, pensions invested in Corps., expecting a nice return. The Bible had the answer in the year of Sabboth and the year of Jubilee, every 7th and 50th year. As Mr. Obama spoke, "you guys haven't been reading your Bible".
 -- Tim Fite, Cadillac
Where are the statesmen of today who are in need of emulating the wise and prophetic Thomas Jefferson?
 -- Mary - MI
May I add that WAFFLER's pseudonym suits him/her to a "T" --
He/she continues to "waffle" on objectivity, reality and TRUTH while living in the fog of the unknown!
 -- Mary - MI
Waffler, Just like a liberal. Instead of seeing as is, you deflect using blame and/or change the subject. You must be a person in power to ready to inflict the misery on others, or so brainwashed you can only think what you are programmed to think. I don't see how ANYONE could NOT give this five stars! It is dead-on to our current situation. TJ was (and is not) an old white guy with outdated ideals, as some liberals would try to have you believe!
 -- Diana, USA
Jefferson knew history well. He also knew people, including himself. His error was his belief that any system of government could be designed to function better than simply allowing people to stand naked before God. No man has access to any means of hiding his actions and motives from God. When we finally stand before God, all the conventions and institutions that we have used to conceal ourselves from each other will be gone. Jefferson will only be marginally be less guilty that King George.
 -- Jess Porter, Mitchell, IN
TJ was prescient beyong his years...

We now have so many taxes, so many "laws", so many alphabet police agencies....I can't imagine how anyone thinks America is still the land of the free. We need to haul in our horns overseas, stop playing NWO cop for the elitist bankers and clean up our own back yard...Quick!
 -- J Carlton, Calgary
My only disagreement is the term "public debt"... "Public" is an abstraction, and cannot assume a debt; only individuals can assume debt, thus any "public debt" is really an individual debt assumed by the people who took out the loans. I, an individual, had no part in creating any "public debt", and I am not liable for anyone else's debt.
 -- Matthew, Peoples Republic of California
Same old idiot crap I see. Reagan/ Bush did it. I can not see how any one can be so stupid as to think anyone would believe that. Any attempt at reason and the left goes crazy. Reduce the rate of growth a minute amount and it is called draconian cuts by the press. No doubt 50% of government spending is wasted for the purposes of entrenching the Democrat party in power. The left is a cancer on society and it needs to be removed any way possible. It is to the point that our survival depends on it.
 -- warren, olathe
The key phrase is ,"And this is the tendency of all human governments".
 -- jim k, Austin, Tx
The last two sentences aren't bad either.
 -- jim k, Austin, Tx
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