What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.
We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation ...
Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.
Manners and onions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.
Monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. A lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divinity, that ever were written.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?
That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?
I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement.
Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision. If we do not learn to sacrifice small differences of opinion, we can never act together. If his own opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at others.