Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty (Quotation)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Quotation: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."


  1. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

Sources consulted: (searching on the phrase "eternal vigilance")

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
  2. Ford's Works of Thomas Jefferson
  3. Lipscomb-Bergh Edition (via Google Books)
  4. UVA EText Jefferson Digital Archive: Texts by or to Thomas Jefferson from the Modern English Collection
  5. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers

Earliest known appearance in print: 1800 (in the form above)[1][2]

Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Jefferson: 1888[3]

Other attributions: Patrick Henry, Junius

Status: We currently have no evidence to confirm that Thomas Jefferson ever said or wrote, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" or any of its variants.

Comments: This quotation was well-known in the nineteenth century, and was in fact used by a number of famous figures, including Frederick Douglass and James Buchanan. It is most often traced back, ultimately, to John Philpot Curran's statement, "


  1. x
  2. To establish the earliest appearance of this phrase in print, the following sources were searched for the phrases, "eternal vigilance" and "price of liberty": Google Books, Google Scholar,, Internet Archive, America's Historical Newspapers, American Broadsides and Ephemera Series I, Early American Imprints Series I and II, Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, American Periodicals Series Online, JSTOR.
  3. A Friend of Temperance, "Non-partisanship;" or, "Do not take temperance into politics" (Philadelphia: Dunlap & Clarke, 1888), 124.

See Also

Further Sources