Strongest reason for the people to...keep and bear arms...(Quotation)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Quotation: "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Variations: None known.

Sources consulted: Searching on the phrase "tyranny in government"

  1. Monticello website
  2. Ford's Works of Thomas Jefferson
  3. L&B (CD-ROM version)
  4. UVA EText Jefferson Digital Archive: Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government, Texts by or to Thomas Jefferson from the Modern English Collection
  5. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
  6. Quotable Jefferson (searching in the index under "government, tyranny and tyrants")

Earliest known appearance in print: 1993[1][2]

Other attributions: None known.

Status: This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. It is often seen preceded by the sentence, "No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms," which is from Jefferson's draft of the Virginia Constitution.


  1. Gyeorgos Ceres Hatonn, Programming, Pitfalls, and Puppy-Dog Tales (Author, 1993), 121.
  2. To establish the earliest appearance of this phrase in print, the following sources were searched for the phrase, "protect themselves against tyranny in government": Google Books, Google Scholar,, Internet Archive, America's Historical Newspapers, American Broadsides and Ephemera Series I, Early American Imprints Series I and II, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, American Periodicals Series Online, JSTOR.

See Also