"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."--Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others."--Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors, ME 2:221"...a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801"Natural rights [are] the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established."--Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1797. ME 9:422"It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all."--Thomas Jefferson to Francois D'Ivernois, 1795. FE 7:4"Were [a right] to be refused, or to be so shackled by regulations, not necessary for... peace and safety... as to render its use impracticable,... it would then be an injury, of which we should be entitled to demand redress."--Thomas Jefferson: Report on Navigation of the Mississippi, 1792. ME 3:178"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him."--Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816. ME 15:24"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy."--Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1802. ME 10:342"Economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened, I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration."--Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. ME 3:322"Considering the general tendency to multiply offices and dependencies and to increase expense to the ultimate term of burden which the citizen can bear, it behooves us to avail ourselves of every occasion which presents itself for taking off the surcharge; that it may never be seen here 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."--Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801. ME 3:333"Our tenet ever was... that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money."--Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1817. ME 15:133"The construction applied... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States," and "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof," goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to [the General Government's] power by the Constitution... Words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument."--Thomas Jefferson: Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. ME 17:385"To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, "to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare." For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union."--Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791. ME 3:147"Aided by a little sophistry on the words "general welfare," [the federal branch claim] a right to do not only the acts to effect that which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think or pretend will be for the general welfare."--Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, 1825. ME 16:147"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please... Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect."--Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791. ME 3:148"[If] it [were] assumed that the general government has a right to exercise all powers which may be for the 'general welfare,' that [would include] all the legitimate powers of government, since no government has a legitimate right to do what is not for the welfare of the governed."--Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1792. ME 8:397"I hope our courts will never countenance the sweeping pretensions which have been set up under the words 'general defence and public welfare.' These words only express the motives which induced the Convention to give to the ordinary legislature certain specified powers which they enumerate, and which they thought might be trusted to the ordinary legislature, and not to give them the unspecified also; or why any specification? They could not be so awkward in language as to mean, as we say, 'all and some.' And should this construction prevail, all limits to the federal government are done away."--Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1815. ME 14:350"This phrase,... by a mere grammatical quibble, has countenanced the General Government in a claim of universal power. For in the phrase, 'to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare,' it is a mere question of syntax, whether the two last infinitives are governed by the first or are distinct and coordinate powers; a question unequivocally decided by the exact definition of powers immediately following."--Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1817. ME 15:133
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