Thomas Jefferson
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Quotes for
Thomas Jefferson (Character)
from Jefferson in Paris (1995)

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1776 (1972)
[Adams has barged into Jefferson's room, accompanied by Franklin, to read the results of Jefferson's work on the Declaration of Independence]
John Adams: Well, is it written yet? Well, you've had a whole week, man. Is it done? Can I SEE IT?
[with his violin bow, Jefferson picks up and hands Adams a discarded draft]
John Adams: "There comes a time in the lives of men when it becomes necessary to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto rem-"... This is terrible. Where's the rest of it?
[Jefferson indicates dozens of rejected drafts strewn crumpled about his floor]
John Adams: Do you mean to say that it is not yet finished?
Thomas Jefferson: No, sir. I mean to say that it's not yet begun.
John Adams: Good god! A whole week! The entire earth was created in a week!
[Jefferson turns to face him]
Thomas Jefferson: Someday, you must tell me how you did it.
John Adams: Disgusting.

[Adams tries to persuade Jefferson to stay in Philadelphia and write the Declaration of Independence rather than return home to Virginia]
Thomas Jefferson: Mr. Adams, I beg of you. I have not seen my wife these past six months!
John Adams: [quotes from memory] 'And we solemly declare that we will preserve our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die free men rather than to live slaves.' Thomas Jefferson "On the Necessity of Taking Up Arms," 1775. Magnificent! Why, you write ten times better than any man in Congress. Including me. For a man of only thirty-three years, you have a happy talent of composition and a remarkable felicity of expression. Now then, sir... will you be a patriot? Or a lover?
Thomas Jefferson: [thinks it over, then] A lover.

Samuel Chase: [to Adams, referring to the Declaration] Answer straight: what would be its purpose?
John Adams: [lost for words] Yes, well...
[Jefferson stands up]
Thomas Jefferson: [slowly and deliberately] To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.

John Adams: Now you'll write it, Mr. J.
Thomas Jefferson: Who will make me, Mr. A?
John Adams: I.
Thomas Jefferson: You?
John Adams: Yes!
[Jefferson steps up, towering over Adams, and looks down at him]
Thomas Jefferson: How?
[tapping his chest with the quill pen]
John Adams: By physical force, if necessary.

Edward Rutledge: [In the final vote for Independence, Rutledge wants the slavery clause removed from the Declaration, or else he will vote against independence] Well, Mr. Adams?
John Adams: Well, Mr. Rutledge.
Edward Rutledge: [stands] Mr. Adams, you must believe that I *will* do what I promised to do.
John Adams: [stands and approaches him] What is it you want, Rutledge?
Edward Rutledge: Remove the offending passage from your Declaration.
John Adams: If we did that, we would be guilty of what we ourselves are rebelling against.
Edward Rutledge: Nevertheless... remove it, or South Carolina will bury, now and forever, your dream of independence.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: John? I beg you consider what you're doing.
John Adams: Mark me, Franklin... if we give in on this issue, posterity will never forgive us.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: That's probably true, but we won't hear a thing, we'll be long gone. Besides, what would posterity think we were? Demi-gods? We're men, no more no less, trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. First things first, John. Independence; America. If we don't secure that, what difference will the rest make?
John Adams: [long pause] Jefferson, say something.
Thomas Jefferson: What else is there to do?
John Adams: Well, man, you're the one that wrote it.
Thomas Jefferson: I *wrote* ALL of it, Mr. Adams.
[stands and goes to the Declaration, crosses out the clause]
John Adams: [snatches the paper from Jefferson and takes it to Rutledge] There you are, Rutlege, you have your slavery; little good may it do you, now VOTE, damn you!
Edward Rutledge: [takes the paper] Mr. President, the fair colony of South Carolina...
[looks at Adams]
Edward Rutledge: ... says yea.

Thomas Jefferson: They're reading the Declaration.
John Adams: Good God. How far have they gotten?
Thomas Jefferson: "... to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power."
[John opens the door to the Chamber]
Thomson: "... independent of and superior to-"
[John closes the door]

[Dickinson wants "tyrant" removed from the Declaration]
Thomas Jefferson: Just a moment, Mr. Thomson. I do not consent. The king is a tyrant whether we say so or not. We might as well say so.
Charles Thomson: But I already scratched it out.
Thomas Jefferson: Then scratch it back in!
John Hancock: Put it back, Mr. Thomson. The King will remain a tyrant.

John Adams: Look at him, Franklin. Virginia's most famous lover!
Thomas Jefferson: [not having seen his wife in six months] Virginia abstains.

John Adams: Now, will you be a lover or a patriot?
Thomas Jefferson: A lover.
John Adams: No!
Thomas Jefferson: But I burn, Mr. A.
John Adams: [emphasized] So do I, Mr. J!
Thomas Jefferson: [astonished] You?
Roger Sherman: [astonished] You do?
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: [astonished] John!
Robert Livingston: [Pondering] Who'd have thought it?

Thomas Jefferson: Tonight, I'm leaving for home.
Hancock: On business?
Thomas Jefferson: Family business.
Hopkins: Give her a flourish for me, young feller!
[congress laughs]

John Adams: Mr. Jefferson? It so happens that the word is UN-alienable, not IN-alienable.
Thomas Jefferson: I'm sorry, Mr. Adams, but "Inalienable" is correct.
John Adams: I happen to be a Harvard graduate, Mr. Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson: Well, I attended William & Mary.
Hancock: Mr. Jefferson, will you concede to Mr. Adams' request?
Thomas Jefferson: No, sir, I will not.
[grins]
John Adams: Oh, very well, I withdraw it!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Oh, good for you, John!
John Adams: I'll speak to the printer about it later.

[debating on America's national bird]
John Adams: The eagle.
Thomas Jefferson: The dove.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The turkey.
John Adams: The eagle.
Thomas Jefferson: The dove.
John Adams: The eagle!
Thomas Jefferson: [considers] The eagle.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The turkey.
John Adams: The eagle is a majestic bird!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The eagle is a scavenger, a thief and coward. A symbol of over ten centuries of European mischief.
John Adams: [confused] The turkey?
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: A truly noble bird. Native American, a source of sustenance to our original settlers, and an incredibly brave fellow who wouldn't flinch from attacking a whole regiment of Englishmen single-handedly! Therefore, the national bird of America is going to be...
John Adams: [insistently] The eagle!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: The eagle.

Dr. Josiah Bartlett: Mr. Jefferson, I beg you to remember that we still have friends in England. I see no purpose in antagonizing them with such phrases as "unfeeling brethren" and "enemies at war." Our quarrel is with the British king, not the British people.
John Adams: Oh, be sensible Bartlett, remove those phrases and the entire paragraph becomes meaningless! And it so happens that it's one of the most stirring and poetic of any passage in the entire document.
Dr. Josiah Bartlett: We're a congress, Mr. Adams, not a literary society. I ask that the entire paragraph be stricken.
Hancock: Mr. Jefferson?
[Jefferson nods]
John Adams: Good God, Jefferson when are you going to speak up for your own work?
Thomas Jefferson: I had hoped that the work would speak for itself.

[on the anti-slavery clause]
John Adams: That little paper there deals with freedom for Americans!
Edward Rutledge: Oh, really. Mr. Adams is now calling our black slaves "Americans!" Are they, now?
John Adams: Yes, they are. They are people, and they are here. If there's any other requirement, I haven't heard it.
Edward Rutledge: They are here, yes, but they are not people sir, they are property.
Thomas Jefferson: No, sir they are people who are being treated as property! I tell you, the rights of human nature are deeply wounded by this infamous practice!
Edward Rutledge: Then see to your own wounds Mr. Jefferson, for you are a practitioner are you not?
Thomas Jefferson: I have already resolved to release my slaves.
Edward Rutledge: Oh. Then I'm sorry, for you've also resolved the ruination of your own personal economy.
John Adams: Economy. Always economy. There's more to this than a filthy purse-string, Rutledge! It is an offense against man and God!
Hopkins: It's a stinking business, Eddie, a stinking business!
Edward Rutledge: Is it really now, Mr. Hopkins? Then what's that I smell floating down from the North? Could it be the aroma of hy-pocrisy? For who holds the other end of that filthy purse-string, Mr. Adams? Our northern brethren are feeling a bit tender toward our black slaves. They don't keep slaves! Oh, no. But they are willing to be considerable carriers of slaves to others. They're willin'! For the shillin'.

[Jefferson is arguing about being appointed to the declaration committee]
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Don't worry, Tom. Oh, let me handle it. I'll get Adams to write it.
Thomas Jefferson: I don't know. He had a funny look on his face.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: He always does.

John Dickinson: Mr. Jefferson, I have very little interest in your paper, as there's no doubt in my mind that we've all but heard the last of it, but I am curious about one thing. Why do you refer to King George as a... tyrant?
Thomas Jefferson: Because he *is* a tyrant.
John Dickinson: I remind you, Mr. Jefferson, that this "tyrant" is still your king.
Thomas Jefferson: When a king becomes a tyrant, he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.
John Dickinson: How so?
Thomas Jefferson: By taking away their rights.
John Dickinson: Rights that came from him in the first place.
Thomas Jefferson: All except one. The right to be free comes from nature.
John Dickinson: And are we not free, Mr. Jefferson?
Thomas Jefferson: Homes entered without warrant, citizens arrested without charge, and in many places, free assembly itself denied.
John Dickinson: No one approves of such things, but these are dangerous times.


"Young Person's Guide to History: Episode #1.1" (2008)
Paul Revere: [Riding on a bicycle to give warning] The British are coming! The British are coming! The British are coming! The British are coming! The British are coming! The British are coming!
[sees station wagon driven by Thomas Jefferson heading for him]
Paul Revere: No!
[station wagon hits Paul Revere]
Paul Revere: Aah!
Benjamin Franklin: [wakes up in passenger seat wearing sleep mask] What was that?
Thomas Jefferson: Nothing. And take that stupid thing off your head. It's embarrassing.

Thomas Jefferson: I'm gonna bang some nurses America.

General George Washington: Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson: Huh?
General George Washington: You were the one who killed this man weren't you?
Thomas Jefferson: Maybe.
General George Washington: Do you know who he is?
Thomas Jefferson: [annoyed] No I don't know who he is.

Thomas Jefferson: [Chasing after Elaine, The Frenchman's wife, after she catches him watching her in the bathroom] Oh come on that's what I'm into. Come on man.

Alexander Hamilton: [Jefferson is messing with Benjamin Franklin's case] He don't want you looking at his porn.
Thomas Jefferson: Don't touch...
Alexander Hamilton: [Jefferson opens the case Benjamin Franklin emerges with futuristic clothing] Greetings! I am future Franklin! Here is today's invention!
[Hands Jefferson a small bottle]
Alexander Hamilton: That's shampoo... travel size.

Thomas Jefferson: [Jefferson and Booufant are wrestling when a bird starts whistling] Looks it's the garlon.
[They both look at an eagle in awe. Jefferson then shoots the eagle]
Thomas Jefferson: Garlon.

Monsieur Bouffant: [At a dinner where the eagle is the main course] This is delicious garlon. I have been all around this world and I have never ever come in contact with such a delicious creature as the garlon.
Benjamin Franklin: The Eagle.
Thomas Jefferson: Hey.
Benjamin Franklin: I mean you think it's funny to act...
Thomas Jefferson: To the garlon huh!
[the rest toast]
Benjamin Franklin: I'm sorry it's an eagle! You know it's not... there's no such thing as a garlon. You think it's funny to...
Monsieur Bouffant: Great garlon.
Benjamin Franklin: French idiot! I'll be in my carriage! Ignorance!

Benjamin Franklin: Monsieur Bouffant allow me to introduce Thomas Jefferson.
Monsieur Bouffant: Thomas Jefferson? Wait you are the lunatic that keeps sending me moose carcasses in the mail.
[cut to his children screaming]
Monsieur Bouffant: You made our children cry.
Thomas Jefferson: I'm gon' keep making them cry until you admit American superiority in the case... in the term of...
Benjamin Franklin: [Franklin tries to whisper help] Animal
Thomas Jefferson: In animal...
Benjamin Franklin: Species and size...
Thomas Jefferson: and size.
Monsieur Bouffant: Oh no no! Elaine!
Elaine: Yeah?
Monsieur Bouffant: Le coq sil vous plait
Elaine: Le coq.
[Elaine produces a live rooster]
Elaine: [Thomas Jefferson gasps]

Monsieur Bouffant: So may I ask Mr. Jefferson. What animal represents America?
Thomas Jefferson: [Jefferson trills to buy time] The bear!
Monsieur Bouffant: Russia.
Thomas Jefferson: They already got the bear?
Monsieur Bouffant: Yes. Yes.
Benjamin Franklin: [whispers to help Jefferson] Turkey.
Thomas Jefferson: I'm not saying turkey you stupid...
Benjamin Franklin: Say lion.
Thomas Jefferson: All right shut up. The... tiger the most powerful...
Monsieur Bouffant: India.
Thomas Jefferson: Huh... What?
Monsieur Bouffant: India.
[laughs at Jefferson]
Thomas Jefferson: The garlon! He's like a big 'ol building with fur and anger and he flies tall and he got a big mouft and he's got a face full of buildings which he will beat you up with cause he's got a building in his pocket.
Monsieur Bouffant: I would love to see this garlon.
Thomas Jefferson: And you will cause I'm gonna bring a garlon back here and he's gonna swallow your wife's cock.


"John Adams: Unite or Die (#1.5)" (2008)
Thomas Jefferson: Impartiality is always partial, John.

Thomas Jefferson: The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is a natural manure.


Jefferson in Paris (1995)
Thomas Jefferson: I kept having a debate between my head and my heart.
Maria Cosway: Which in your case, the head always wins.
Thomas Jefferson: Not this time. My poor head was simply whirled around by my unruly heart.
Maria Cosway: Oh-dear-God.
Thomas Jefferson: It kept telling me I love the lady and will continue to love her forever. If she were on one side of the globe and I on the other, I would pierce through the whole mass of the world to reach her.

Thomas Jefferson: Independence is not a toy for children to play with, but the privilege of a fully matured mind.


"John Adams: Reunion (#1.4)" (2008)
Thomas Jefferson: If ever there was a city to distract us from our troubles, it wou;d be Paris.

Thomas Jefferson: Paris is unique and best enjoyed in the company of women.


Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000) (TV)
Thomas Jefferson: [as Jefferson stares at her intently] Why are you looking at me like that?
Thomas Jefferson: I find I enjoy looking at you, Sally. And I so love your touch. I find I need your touch, even when I am perfectly sound and cannot explain it.
Sally Hemings: [Stares back at him silently]
Thomas Jefferson: Sally... I think it proper that you go now.

Thomas Jefferson: Sally, if anyone should ask, Mr. Paine and I are going to admire the gardens.
Sally Hemings: [quoting from Paine's book, "Common Sense"] "Weak men cannot see, and prejudiced men will not see, and we have it in our power to begin the world again." Mr Paine, such wonderful, powerful words you wrote, sir.
Thomas Paine: Thank you, my dear.
Sally Hemings: [curtsies and walks away]
Thomas Paine: [to Jefferson] Extraordinary girl...
[stares at Sally]
Thomas Paine: Extraordinary!


"Jack of All Trades: Return of the Dragoon (#1.1)" (2000)
President Thomas Jefferson: Jack? Touch my niece and I'll have George Washington chop off your cherry tree.
Jack Stiles: Fortunately, I don't have a cherry tree.

President Thomas Jefferson: Jack, touch my niece and I'll have George Washington cut off your cherry tree.
Jack Stiles: [to himself] Good thing I don't have a cherry tree!


"The Simpsons: Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington (#3.2)" (1991)
Lisa: [at the Jefferson Memorial. Talking to the statue] Mr. Jefferson, I have a problem.
Thomas Jefferson: I know your problem: the Lincoln Memorial was *too crowded*.
Lisa: Yes, well...
Thomas Jefferson: [referring to how empty his memorial is] No one ever comes to see me. Frankly, I don't blame them. *I* didn't do anything important. JUST the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, the dumbwaiter!...
Lisa: Uh, maybe I should go... I seem to have caught you at a bad time...
[walks out]
Thomas Jefferson: WAIT! Don't go!... I get so lonely...
[tumbleweed blows through]


"Futurama: All the Presidents' Heads (#6.20)" (2011)
Thomas Jefferson: The yeas have it. Our nation's official joke state shall be New Jersey.


"Thomas Jefferson" (1997)
Thomas Jefferson: "The life of a cabbage is paradise".


"30 Rock: Fireworks (#1.18)" (2007)
Tracy Jordan: I think I am.
Maury Povich: Tracy, meet your father, Tom!
Tracy Jordan: No! I hate you, Thomas Jefferson! I don't know who I am anymore! You can't be my father!
Sally Hemings: Hey, Maury. He's a dog! He's a dog!
Maury Povich: Sally Hemmings just called you a dog, Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson: No matter, Maurice. I am here for you, Tracy Jordan. I rode a horse all the way from heaven to tell you something important. America, which I invented...
[the audience boos, and Jefferson makes a pixelated rude gesture to the audience]
Thomas Jefferson: ... which I invented, is a great country because we are not burdened by our pasts. Embrace who you are, Tracy Jordan. And may the force be with you always.


Ben and Me (1953)
Tom Jefferson: I've been racking my brains, working day and night, but it's no use! I'm stuck!
Ben Franklin: But Red, I thought it was finished.
Tom Jefferson: It is, it is, Ben, but I don't like the beginning. It just doesn't sound right. Listen to this: The time has come when we the people of these colonies...
Ben Franklin: Yes, yes?
Tom Jefferson: No! No! Not big enough! How about this: Now is the time when we the people...
Ben Franklin: Well, um...
Tom Jefferson: No! No! Not strong enough! Uh... The time is at hand when we the people mu... Oh! You see what I mean, Ben? If I could only find the words...
Amos Mouse: [whispering] Psst! Ben! How about our contract?
Ben Franklin: [whispering] No, Amos. Not now.
Amos Mouse: [whispering] Yes! Now, or I'm leaving!
Ben Franklin: [whispering] Alright, Amos. Alright.
[reads]
Ben Franklin: "When in the course of human events, it becomes necess..."
Tom Jefferson: Ben! That's it! That's it! When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to disolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the seperate and equal station to which the laws of nature...
[fade to the House of Representatives]
Tom Jefferson: ...and, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.


Manifest Destiny: The Lewis & Clark Musical Adventure (2016)
Eagle: They are putting you on the two-dollar bill.
Thomas Jefferson: [sarcastically] Oh, I'm sure that'll be a big success.