Nature and the Environment (Quotations)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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1785 October 28. (to James Madison). "The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on."[1]

1786 October 12. (to Maria Cosway). "How sublime to look down on the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thunder, all fabricated at our feet!"[2]

1787 July 30. (to William Drayton). "By varying too the articles of culture, we multiply the chances for making something, and disarm the seasons in a proportionable degree of their calamitous."[3]

1787 December 20. (to James Madison). "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."[4]

1790 December 23. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "...There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me..."[5]

1793 July 7. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "I never before knew the full value of trees...What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown."[6]

1793 July 21. (to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "When the earth is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance and of the best quality."[7]

1800. (A Memorandum Services to My Country). "The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to it's culture."[8]

1801 August 14. (to Joseph Rapin). "While I wish to have every thing good in it's kind, and handsome in stile, I an a great enemy to waste and useless extra expense, and see them with real pain."[9]

1803 November 8. (to David Williams). "The general desire of men to live by their heads rather than their hands, and the strong allurements of great cities to those who have any turn for dissipation, threaten to make them here, as in Europe, the sinks of voluntary misery."[10]

1806 December 8. (to Edmund Bacon). "We must use a good deal of economy in our wood, never cutting down new, where we can make the old do."[11]

1813 June 24. (to John Wayles Eppes). "The earth belongs to the living...The soil is the gift of God to the living."[12]


  1. PTJ, 8:682.
  2. Ibid, 10:447.
  3. Ibid, 11:648.
  4. Ibid, 12:442.
  5. Ibid, 18:350.
  6. Family Letters, 121-122.
  7. Ibid, 122.
  8. Peterson, Writings, 703.
  9. Massachusetts Historical Society.
  10. L&B, 10:431.
  11. Massachusetts Historical Society.
  12. Peterson, Writings, 1280, 1282.