"My opinion has ever been that, until more can be done for them, we should endeavor, with those whom fortune has thrown on our hands, to feed and clothe them well, protect them from all ill usage, require such reasonable labor only as is performed voluntarily by freemen, & be led by no repugnancies to abdicate them, and our duties to them. The laws do not permit us to turn them loose, if that were for their good: and to commute them for other property is to commit them to those whose usage of them we cannot control."Jefferson quote source: Letter to Edward Coles, Monticello, August 25, 1814
"I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is the better for my having lived at all? I do not know that it is. I have been the instrument of doing the following things; but they would have been done by others; some of them, perhaps a little better."A selection from his list of accomplishments:
"The Declaration of Independence."Jefferson quote source: A Memorandum (Services to My Country). 1800.
"I proposed the demolition of the church establishment, and the freedom of religion."
"The act prohibiting the importation of slaves."
"Conversation began on other matters and, by some circumstance, was led to the British constitution, on which Mr. Adams observed 'purge that constitution of it's corruption, and give to it's popular branch equality of representation, and it would be the most perfect constitution ever devised by the wit of man.' Hamilton paused and said, 'purge it of it's corruption, and give to it's popular branch equality of representation, & it would become an impracticable government: as it stands at present, with all it's supposed defects, it is the most perfect government which ever existed.'"Jefferson quote source: The Anas. 1791-1806: Miscellany.
"That a system had there [the Treasury Department] been contrived, for deluging the states with paper money instead of gold & silver, for withdrawing our citizens from the pursuits of commerce, manufactures, buildings, & other branches of useful industry, to occupy themselves & their capitals in a species of gambling, destructive of morality, & which had introduced it's poison into the government itself."Jefferson quote source: The Anas. 1791-1806: Conversations with the President.
"Some instances of individual wrong have, as at other times, taken place, but in nowise implicating the will of the nation."Jefferson quote source: Eighth Annual Message. November 8, 1808.