"Our legislators are not sufficiently appraised of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us.  No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him; every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him; and, no man having the right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third [party].  When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions; and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right."
by:
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source:
letter to Francis W. Gilmer, June 7, 1816
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Reader comments about this quote:
The United States was founded as a Republic under which our natural individual rights were to be held as sacrosanct. Quite the opposite of democratic socialism and expansive welfare government.
 -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Jeffersons here touching on social contract (every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society) is a non-sequitur in direct opposition to the rest of the statement (for example: on entering into society we give up any natural right). Legislators are not law makers (laws are eternally finite). Legislators are those that discover law through reason, experience, and otherwise and use tools such as codes, ordinances, regulations, rules, and statutes to define the law for mans use in protecting individual sovereign right. The term law is regularly used as a synonym of mans legislative tools (on occasion, the synonym law is an accurate depiction, most often it is a dictate of tyranny and a most malignant totalitarianism by supposed temporal gods).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The Obamas, Harry, Nancy and most of the gang in Washington do not believe in natural rights. They do , however, believe in privileges grated by themselves to certain groups and parties that support them.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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     -- Mary - MI      
    Mike... You have misunderstood what Jefferson meant by "necessities of society". He is not referring to socialism, totalitarianism or any other abusive form of government. In Jefferson's view society's only needs is for each person to respect and defend their fellow man's natural rights. All other necessities of life will naturally be taken care of as each individual strives for their own well being without trespassing against the rights of their neighbors. The laws (call them what you will) are enacted by consent of the governed to ensure this.
     -- Publius     
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    Publius, I would hope your understanding of necessities of society are correct. In the de jure U.S.A, your referenced governed are individual sovereigns. The tyrannical statutes, etc. enacted upon the once noble free are in direct contradiction to Jefferson's sentiments and are beyond the consent of the once noble free. For example, I was once involved in taking to court the proof that the 16th Amendment was not legally ratified - no court would let it happen.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I can only wonder, why, why do we not, at this time in our history, has God not blessed us with such inspirational men as our Founding Fathers were? I implore each and every reader to pray that He would bring about such men now, to lead this nation back to Him, back to the liberty and prosperity He blessed us with then.
     -- Greg Tek, Rittman     
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    It's not just the legislators that "are not sufficiently appraised of the rightful limits of their power" -- the People themselves are also not sufficiently appraised of the rightful limits of legislative power, and thus do not notice the usurpation of power nor act to stop it. If the children were educated in the principles of Liberty and due process, tyranny wouldn't have a chance.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer has hit the nail on the head. As Ben Franklin once said,"The government passed by the convention is the best that can be created by man and it will for a time be a blessing to its people but like all governments before it will end in despotism. The people being so corrupt that they are in need of a despotic government." I'm paraphrasing as the exact wording slips from my aged mind.
     -- Publius     
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