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Quotations - Debet

by Thomas Jefferson



DEBT (IMPRISONMENT FOR)

Neither natural right nor reason subjects the body of a man to restraint for debt. (Letter to George Hammond, Philadelphia, May 29, 1792).

THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 57 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

DEBT (NATIONAL)

Funding I consider as limited, rightfully, to a redemption of the debt within the lives of a majority of the generation contracting it; every generation coming equally, by the laws of the Creator of the world, to the free possession of the earth he made for their subsistence, unencumbered by their predecessors, who like them, were but tenants for life.

(Letter to John Taylor, Monticello, May 28, 1816). THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 51 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

Having seen the people of other nations bowed down to the earth under the prodigalities of their rulers, I have cherished their opposites, peace, economy, and riddance of public debt, believing that these were the highroad to public as well as to private prosperity and happiness.

THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON xxxiii (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

And I sincerely believe with you that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

(Letter to John Taylor, Monticello, May 28, 1816). THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 53 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

I consider the fortunes of our republic as depending...on the extinguishment of the public debt before we engage in any war... If the public debt should once more be swelled to a formidable size...we shall be committed to the English career of debt, corruption and rottenness, closing with revolution.

(Letter to Gallatin, 1809). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 73 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which, if acted on, would save one half the wars of the world.

(Letter to Destutt de Tracy, 1820). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 159 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

Considering the general tendency to multiply offices and dependencies, and to increase expenses to the ultimate term of burden which the citizen can bear, it behooves us to avail ourselves of every occasion that presents itself for taking off the surcharge; that it never may be seen that, after leaving to labor the smallest portion of its earnings on which it can subsist, government shall itself consume the residue of what it was instituted to guard.

(First Annual Message, December 8, 1801). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 75 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

(N)ever borrow a dollar without laying a tax at the same instant for paying the interest annually and the principal within a given term...

(Letter to Eppes, June 24, 1813).

The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.

(Letter to Eppes, June 24, 1813).

I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessities and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers. Our land-holders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagances. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for the second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse on this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

(Letter to Samuel Kercheval, Monticello, July 12, 1816). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 73-74 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

We consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts.

(Letter to ?, 1813). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 159 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

Debt and revolution are inseparable as cause and effect.

(Letter to Samuel Smith, 1821).

I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. (Letter to Governor Plumer, 1816).

THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 160 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.

(Letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799). THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 47 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).

I wish it were possible to (amend our) constitution with...an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

(Letter to John Taylor).

I consider the fortunes of our republic depending to an eminent degree, on the extinguishment of the public debt...;because, that done, we shall have revenue enough to improve our country in peace, and defend it in war, without incurring either new taxes or loans. But if the debt should once more be swelled to a formidable size, its entire discharge will be despaired of, and we shall be committed to the English career of debt, corruption, and rottenness, closing with revolution. The discharge of the debt, therefore, is vital to the destinies of our government...

(Letter to Albert Gallatin, October 11, 1809).

With respect to debts, whether to be met by loans or taxes, there are two laws of finance which I think should be rigorously adhered to. 1, never to borrow without laying a tax sufficient to pay principle and interest within a fixed period, and I would fix that period at 10 years...2, never to borrow or tax without appropriating the money to its specific object.

(Letter to J. Williams, 1820). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 73 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

We can pay off his [Hamilton's] debt in fifteen years, but we can never get rid of his financial system.

(Letter to Dupont, 1802). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 159 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

The conclusion...is, that neither the representatives of a nation nor the whole nation itself assembled, can validly engage debts beyond what they may pay in their time, that is to say, within thirty-four years of the date of the engagement.

(Letter to Madison, 1789). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 73 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

DEBTS (FOREIGN)

To make provision for the speedy payment of their foreign debts will be the first operation necessary. This will give them credit.

(Letter to John Brown, Paris, May 26, 1788). THE POLITICAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON 139 (Dumbauld Ed. 1955).