"...Enlightened by a benign religion,
professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms,
yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude,
and the love of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence,
which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in
the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter --
with all these blessings, what more is necessary
to make us a happy and a prosperous people?
Still one thing more... a wise and frugal Government,
which shall restrain men from injuring one another,
shall leave them otherwise free to regulate
their own pursuits of industry and improvement,
and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary
to close the circle of our felicities."
by:
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source:
First Inaugural Address, 1801
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Reader comments about this quote:
Interesting the mention by Mr. Jefferson about frugality: he was rather a spendthrift...he even had to sell his considerable personal library at one point I believe.
 -- A.R.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL     
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    Frugal Government -- what an oxymoron that is!! When was the last time the govt said "we can't afford it!"? So is the previous commenter commenting on TJ or his statement? _ad homenem_ it looks like. My God, don't we wish we had somebody like TJ around today???
     -- Senor Reek, Corozal, Belize, Central America     
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    What a pity - nay, a tragedy - that GWB cannot, or refuses to, read. But then, if he could and did, would he ever understand the full meaning of Jefferson's words?
     -- john-douglas, nassau     
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    Few, if any in today's government practice what Mr. Jefferson speaks of in his address.
     -- R.A. McMillan, Knoxville, Tn.     
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    This quote should probably be read in its entirety within context. Our country is so far removed from what it was 205 yrs ago that no one could have predicted the needs of our country today. For example, ". . . shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned . . ." No one could have predicted the power and control of corporations over our democracy today. Corporations take more and more from labor every day. Jefferson could never have imagined today's reality in his wildest dreams.
     -- Lynn, Bozeman, MT     
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    Here is Jefferson's Inaugural Address in its entirety. I hope Lynn from MT will read it along with the rest of Jefferson's letters and speeches. Jefferson not only correctly predicted America's future, he warned us about it.
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
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    GOVERNMENT takes more and more ... gradually lowering a corporation’s ability to give and give, making it look like it takes and takes. Our country is supposed to be a Constitutionally Limited Federal Republic, not a Democracy, but it is now a Congressional Tyranny. Congress IGNORES the Constitution. Corporations try to minimize government regulation by buying influence. Congress sells its influence to the highest bidder, who still gets screwed. Government and the media want you to believe they are helping, and we should all be against corporations (the employers who give you a job). In reality, it is the people and employers versus the government and media. Read "Why Government Doesn't Work" by Harry Browne.
     -- Joel, Rochester, MI     
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    Lynn from Montana appears to lack a sense of history and of man. What Jefferson wrote applies precisely to what we are experiencing today. Vultures, both corporate, political, bureaucratic, and financial are indeed trying to "take from the mouth of labor (i.e. men) the bread it has earned." The times may have changed, but not the nature of mankind. And I think Jefferson had an excellent grasp on mankind's frailties and foibles - and avarice and greed. They are still with us, as they have been for centuries and centuries.
     -- john-douglas, nassau     
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    What Jefferson is trying to state is the relationship of religion to government. When religious principles are practice in government, this is what makes a nation truly happy and prosperous. In short, the key to the perfection of the state lies in the union of the Church and the State.
     -- Ramon A. del Gallego, Manila     
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    I see a lot of comments in regards to Jefferson's admonition for a frugal government - yet nary a word about his demand that government refrain from taking from the mouth of labor the bread the working man have earned - which refers every bit to the foreign trade treaties we have entered into as much as it does taxation.
     -- Del Wasso, Freeport, Illinois     
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    what does he mean about the bread not being fed?
     -- maya, gurnne     
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    A political ignorance of history and corporeal man’s inherent right to liberty through law (such as Lynn above displayed with her collectivist rant – not my government but rather, original intent was to be servants of rights and liberty = as appropriate today as then) obscures the present while promoting anything BUT inalienable rights, liberty, actual justice and the laws of nature and of nature's god. Each point here made in this terse sound bite (the words of Jesus the Christ when practiced in benign various forms is pro-honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, love, prosperity and the greatest happiness of man; and, a wise and frugal body politic {frugal here being more than just financial but, extremely limited in all categorical endeavors} that would avoid victimless crimes; and, pursuits of industry and improvement should develop from a laissez faire approach; and, a taxation so explained by the 2nd plank of the communist manifesto should NOT! be implemented) is an illuminative initial intent for rights, liberty and happiness – all such being violated by the occupying statist theocracy now infesting this land.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    These are the 'values' that America was founded upon and  dare I say  dependent upon for a free People.  The Americans threw off the yoke of authoritarianism of church and state and embraced an enlightened Reason for chartering the structure of a democratic-republican government which above all protected the lives, liberty, and property of the People who chartered it. 

    Note, that the precepts of "honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter" are still guiding principles without regard to specific dogma.  This is what America was founded upon  and We the People are the foundation, not our government.  Are these the values in practice today?  Where they are, life is better than where they are not ...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Ronw13, OR      
    This nation has corporately turned it's back on the God that brought it together. All things that were good and decent are now considered "intrusive". 2nd. Timothy predicted a couple thousand years ago that; "Good will become evil and evil will become good." ... can we get an amen? God has been kicked out of schools but yet gets the blame (along with guns that apparently have some magical way of committing mayhem by themselves) when some monster shoots it up. Babies are killed and disposed of like so much trash, kids are taught they're no more than "accidental cosmic mistakes." (and yet we wonder at the rampant suicide among kids!) Parents aren't allowed to correct their children because spanking is "cruel". Morality is a dirty word. The justice system is a sick joke. Snowflakes melt at real truth because they're taught to make up their own "truth"...and, oh gee, it may offend them. Sadly we the people are to blame for the majority of the problems in our nation because WE are too busy getting the big new house, the new fancy cars, more money, more pleasure...and to hell with protecting or even being bothered to study and understand our the Constitution (the law of our land) which gives us the RIGHT to watchdog our government and remove those who abuse our God given laws...while those who we elected (but didn't bother to vet) become fat and dictatorial in "governing" we the peons. That about cover it?

     -- Denise, Durango     
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    The Founding Fathers wrote in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  Congress shall Pass no Law respecting an establishment of religion.  One of the reasons those Founding Fathers chose to fight the Revolutionary War, they Despised paying taxes to the British Government to Finance the Church of England.  They wanted to Protect the American people from ever having to Finance the Religion of others, with TAX PAYER MONEY, didn't they? 
     -- James, Birmingham     
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    (-; Denise, don't hold back, tell us what you really think ;-) Thank you for your observation  you should comment here more often.


     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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