"To inform their discretion"
“I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the
people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise
their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from
them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true
corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
to William C. Jarvis, 1820.
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition
Lipscomb and Bergh, editors, 20 Vols., 15:278
Washington, D.C., 1903-04.
"Doubt is wisdom"
"Reasonings... not built on the basis of experiment... cannot be decided
ultimately... More facts must be collected, and more time flow off, before
the world will be ripe for decision. In the meantime, doubt is wisdom."
to General Chastellux, 1785. ME 5:7, Papers 8:186
"A person forms a theory"
"The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees, in every
object, only the traits which favor that theory."
to Charles Thompson, 1787. ME 6:312
"Hear both sides"
"If [a] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its
reasoning, refute it. But for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides if we
to N. G. Dufief, 1814. ME 14:127
"Differences of opinion will arise"
"In every country where man is free to think and to speak, differences
of opinion will arise from difference of perception, and the imperfection of
reason; but these differences when permitted, as in this happy country, to
purify themselves by free discussion, are but as passing clouds overspreading
our land transiently and leaving our horizon more bright and serene."
to Benjamin Waring, 1801. ME 10:235
"Exchange of information and opinions"
"Nothing but good can result from an exchange of information and opinions
between those whose circumstances and morals admit no doubt of the integrity
of their views."
to Elbridge Gerry, 1797. ME 9:385
"Your own reason"
"Lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject
anything because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected
or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and
you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the
to Peter Carr, 1787. ME 6:261
"A patient pursuit of facts"
"A patient pursuit of facts, and cautious combination and comparison
of them, is the drudgery to which man is subjected by his Maker, if he wishes
to attain sure knowledge."
Notes on Virginia Q.VI, 1782. ME 2:97
"Common sense and common honesty"
"Let common sense and common honesty have fair play, and they will
soon set things to rights."
to Ezra Stiles, 1786. ME 6:25
"The force of public opinion"
"The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely
to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to."
to Lafayette, 1823. ME 15:491
"To whom all authority belongs"
"[It is] the people, to whom all authority belongs."
to Spencer Roane, 1821. ME 15:328