Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Thomas Jefferson

1743 – 1826 CE

American founding father, main author of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, first Secretary of State, US Vice President and one of America’s greatest presidents; Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase almost doubling the size of the country and wrote a book considered the most important American one written before 1800. President of the American Philosophical Society, mathematician, architect/designer of the Virginia State Capitol and Monticello, University of Virginia founder, avid horticulturalist and farmer, naturalist deeply interested in birds, inventor of an important new plow design as well as the swivel chair, and speaker of more than 8 languages; he exemplified the ideal of a true Renaissance Man. Although he owned hundreds of slaves, as a young lawyer he defended freedom-seeking slaves, signed an act prohibiting their importation in 1807, and is believed to have secretly “married” and had children with a black woman, Sally Hemings. Always in debt with cash flow problems from continual experiments and pushing on the boundaries of the possible, his creative spirit never died.



Notes on the State of Virginia

Unlisted Sources

Letter (1810)

Letter (1819)

Letter, 1825


Notes on the State of Virginia (1784)

Quotes by Thomas Jefferson (17 quotes)

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

from Notes on the State of Virginia

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

Themes: God Fear

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“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be.”

from Notes on the State of Virginia

Chapters: 17. True Leaders

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“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of 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.”

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“Either force or corruption has been the principle of every modern government... This I hope will be the age of experiments in government, and that their basis will be founded on principles of honesty, not of mere force. We have seen no instance of this since the days of the Roman republic, not do we read of any before that.”

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“That a change in the relations in which a man is placed should change his ideas of moral right or wrong, is neither new, nor peculiar... Homer tells us it was so 2600 years ago.”

Themes: Moral Freedom

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“Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will become costly”

from Letter, 1825

Themes: Business

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“I too am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.”

from Letter (1819)

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“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”

Themes: Gardening

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“Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.”

from Letters

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“The Ambassador [of Tripoli] answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

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“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Themes: Socialism

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“That sect [Jews] had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust... cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel.”

Themes: Judaism God

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“[on] the subjects of money and commerce, Smith's Wealth of Nations is the best book to be read”

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“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God.”

from Notes on the State of Virginia (1784)

Themes: Pluralism

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“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.”

Themes: Agriculture

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“In every country in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.”

from Letter (1810)

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“[the Church] perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves... the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus”

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Quotes about Thomas Jefferson (5 quotes)

“I am intrigued by the arguments of those who claim to follow the judicial doctrine of original intent. How do they know it was the dearest wish of Thomas Jefferson's heart that teen-age drug dealers should cruise the cities of this nation perforating their fellow citizens with assault rifles? Channelling?”

Molly Ivins 1944 – 2007 CE
Biting but humorous social commentator

Themes: Law and Order

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“In the 1700s, politics was all ab out ideas. But Jefferson came up with all the good ideas. In the 1800s, it was all about character. but no one will ever have as much character as Lincoln and Lee. For much of the 1900s it was about charisma. But we no longer trust charisma because Hitler used it to kill Jews and JFK used it to get laid and send us to Vietnam.”

Neal Stephenson 1959 CE –
(Stephen Bury)
Speculative futurist and cultural social commentator

from Interface (1994)

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“Jefferson was not ashamed to call the black man his brother and to address him as a gentleman.”

Frederick Douglass 1818 – 1895 CE
International symbol of social justice

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“Voltaire said about God that ‘there is no God, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night’. Hammurabi would have said the same about his principle of hierarchy, and Thomas Jefferson about human rights. Homo sapiens has no natural rights, just as spiders, hyenas and chimpanzees have no natural rights. But don’t tell that to our servants, lest they murder us at night.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

Themes: Deception

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“Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln... we regard them as heroes because they also lived and acted in relation to something that transcends and transforms the human condition. Each had his weaknesses, his defects, his doubts; but in each of them [there was] another greater force... they were heroes in the ancient sense of the term.”

​ Jacob Needleman 1934 CE –
American religious scholar, historian, philosopher, and author
from American Soul

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