"For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so,
a well organized and armed militia is their best security."
by:
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source:
Eighth Annual Message, November 8, 1808
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous      
I agree, however, it seems as though the government seems to be our worst enemy. They are now telling us which words we can and cannot use, which iis an insult because we were taught that by our parents. We are told which lifestye we must accept - what must be taught in schools despite the preference of the people. It's like having a dictator The way things are going, I agree with an indivitual in the Clinton administration (I can't remember who) that asserted by the next century we will be under a one-world government.
 -- BM Wheeler, Georgetown County SC     
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    A well organized militia from a well armed private populous is a threat to tyranny, no matter the menacing actors, foreign or domestic.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    "No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms.
    The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.1F65

    "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for, but one which should not only be founded on true free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among general bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.FB09

    "When the government fears the people there is liberty;
    when the people fear the government there is tyranny."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.0CC8

    "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.7369

    "The spirit of resistance to government
    is so valuable on certain occasions,
    that I wish it to be always kept alive.
    It will often be exercised when wrong
    but better so than not to be exercised at all.
    I like a little rebellion now and then.
    It is like a storm in the atmosphere."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.492A

    "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.EFEC

    "Every citizen should be a soldier.
    This was the case with the Greeks and Romans,
    and must be that of every free state."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.B723

    "[The People] are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty."
    http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/Thomas.Jefferson.Quote.735C
     -- Thomas Jefferson     

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    Clearly Thomas Jefferson saw the right to bear arms as a check against governmental usurpation.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The God Forbid quote (READ IT CAREFULLY) says government and its patriots may from time to time with arms bring the wrong folks who suffer under misconceptions to task in order to protect the public liberty. The government and its patriots should set the wrong folks right, pardon them and forgive them. WHAT COUNTRY CAN PRESERVE ITS LIBERTIES IF ITS RULERS ARE NOT WARNED FROM TIME TO TIME, THAT THIS PEOPLE (the people who are wrong and therefore discontented) preserve the spirit of resistance.
     -- Bruce, 'Bama & Roll Tide     
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    Bruce, We aim to keep our guns. We will take down a government that attempts t take them away, precisely because that is the first UNMISTAKABLE step towards tyranny. Citizens that fear guns should leave the US for safer shores, not enmire us with restrictions, prohibitions, and bans. We are an armed society, and we are armed to protect ourselves from EVERYONE. So deal with it.
     -- Eric, Wichita     
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    My father was a career soldier, had 50 weapons in his home three or four riles at each door. I have six pistols and two rifles. I have no problem dealing with it! I have a retired West Pointer career soldier friend Corps of Engineers guy NEVER HAD a gun in his home. Of all the guys I know that have guns in their home none have ever had to use them for home defense and I have never heard my hunting and gun friends talk about using their weapons against the cops, police, state troopers or feds. Eric guns are not to protect you from the government but the government may ask gun owners to aid and abet them in their missino. First of all they are not powerful enough to deal with the governments, so even if you had legitimate cause it would be foolish. Can you site me a case where guns protected anyone from law enforcement. I carry my 32 pistols when I backback especially in bear and cougar country (along with my knife and pepper mace) and recently bought 22 caliber rat shot shells as I was told it can be useful against snakes. So I am not against guns Eric and find they give a sense of security against intruders and varmints. BUT GUNS ARE NOT FOR USE AGAINST YOUR GOVERNMENT. That is a lie and an impractical joke. Raise a gun to law enforcement and you will be blown away. While many resent or are jealousy of this power on the side of the law would we want it any different with the tide of power being in the hands of individuals or groups of individuals. Isn't that mentality, the militia mentality, what we are trying to eliminate in Iraq.
     -- Bruce, 'Bama & Roll Tide     
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    Thomas believed that no tyrant would be tolerated by an armed population but he also knew that the armed population is a good last defence against an invading army. Durring the revelutionary war our army would grow on its way to battle because the locals would pick up thier guns and join in when they saw the troops go by. George Washington knew that much was owed to this type of patriot that supported the cause but for whatever reason didn't join the regular army.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    Bruce, You seem to forget that Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers had just finished a blood war with a tyrannical government. The second amendment was put in place to give the citizens a way of defending themselves, especially from their own government. Do a close study of the seige at Waco, TX. If anyone, even your beloved government and law enforcement, fire the first shot without justification, you have the right to defend yourself. We are citizens, not subjects!!
     -- Robert, Ohio     
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    "A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." -- George Washington. If the government oversteps the limits placed upon by the people, and our constitution. then yes it is our right to fight. "[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens." -- The Federalist, No. 29 - Alexander Hamilton. The Military, and every law enforcement agency is no match in numbers for an armed population. I stand prepared to help my government enact just laws according to the constitution, and to fight back the winds of tyranny if need be. Let the government be warned, you work for us. You must follow the will of the people. " What, sir, is the use of militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. . . Whenever Government means to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise a standing army upon its ruins." -- Debate, U.S. House of Representatives, August 17, 1789 - Elbridge Gerry
     -- L.J.M., Oklahoma     
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    I am a well regulated militia of one who can and may return fire in the event of a military coup, which is the actual reason the second amendment exists. We were born in an act of self-defense; it is a right and a duty. You're screwed as a nation if an all civilian military commanded by a civilian opens fire on you if you cannot fire right back at them. Sometimes preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution aka We, the people or your one person means you will have to shoot as you do not control any other person but your own self. You fire paper first then lead as some people do not believe what they read even if you exactly name your paper petition The Declaration of Independence and that is it: Actual independence or liberty is not a matter of personal belief as it exists; it is...just like the second amendment itself. Gun control advocates do not get it when you tell them history is and either it is a law or it is not...lobbying to remove this term, inviolate law and so not a changeable condition, is then stating that we never fought the Revolution, we never wrote the Federalist Papers and we never wrote our Constitution. Gun ownership and a citizen militia is not theory but law while gun control is a tested theory that has failed several thousand times over in the past thus we have proven it will never be anything other than theory - as it does not work. By its very nature actual law works thus it is, get it? I will only speak for myself who is definitely not a theory but a law: I am.
     -- T. Jefferson, Neptune Beach, FL     
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    P.S. The mentally ill and the insane? The convicted criminal? NOT WELL REGULATED thus we can limit or deny them this right until such time they are well regulated. We are a philosophy of politics; it is implied or inherent that you will earn wisdom via self-control and self-discipline; becoming well regulated as a person is an art form in America as it is a science.
     -- T. Jefferson, Neptune Beach, FL     
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    Dear Bruce,

    I think you misunderstood his meaning:

    The patriots then and now were the people: Citizens, -whether in government or not. Of course the term "Patriots" assumes that whether you were in government or not, that you were right/correct in either serving the citizens, or in your challenge of a corrupt/tyrannical government.

    The tyrants would be either tryants in the government, or citizens in society who were wrong (ignorant or self serving), in their challenge against the government.

    Jefferson was clarifying his position that there will be people who challenge the government [and it's perceived tyranny], that will be wrong, (or ignorant of the facts of what is actually right and correct). That is inevitable.

    As to those people, he was saying "[pardon them, or pacify them, (or kill them, if necessary, in defense of yourself and what is right)]"

    ...TJ again clarifies that as:

    "[The Spirit of Resistance will often be exercised when wrong,
    but better so, than not to be exercised at all.]"

    ...ie. No gun control

    ....and in that case, -you deal with it [the resistance] as is reasonably fair based on your own moral judgement to protect yourself, if you believe you are morally right, and the person challenging the government is wrong; that as a citizen (patriot) working for the govt. you still have the legal right to protect yourself.

    Again.....

    "[The Spirit of Resistance, will often be exercised when wrong,
    but better so than not to be exercised at all.]"

    ...ie. NO GUN CONTROL

    ..., the reason for this is so government will always have a healthy fear and respect for/of the citizens, so it will not abuse it's powers or become corrupt, knowing that it (they) can be overthrown if they become so.

    SO... TJ was saying that the civil liberties of all people should not be limited, for the sake of a few, (in government or not).

    Everyone are citizens... but some citizens are civil servants.
    Those in government serve the people.

    He recognized that Innocent blood from time to time will be shed on both sides (government & civilian, right [patriot] or wrong).

    Goerge Washington, John Adams, Thomas Payne, Alexander Hamilton, all reiterated (in various quotes) this emphatic belief
    that you cannot limit or remove the rights of everyone for the sake of a few, (or you loose liberty as a society in it's entirety), and that the people must retain the right to challenge or overthrow a tyrannical government through any means necessary, including the use of arms.

     -- John, San Jose, CA     
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