The two enemies of the people are criminals and government...(Quotation)

Quotation: "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."

Variations: None known.

Sources consulted: (searching on phrases "two enemies of the people" and "chains of the Constitution")

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
  2. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
  3. Thomas Jefferson: Papers collection in Hathi Trust Digital Library

Earliest appearance in print: 2002[1]

Earliest appearance in print, attributed to Thomas Jefferson: see above.

Status: This quotation has not been found in any of Thomas Jefferson's writings.  He did, however, employ the phrase "chains of the Constitution" at least once, in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798: " questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution..." (from draft)[2]

- Anna Berkes, May 2009


  • 1. Michael Collins, Cornucopia of Evil (Kingsbury, Tex.: See Books, 2002), 9.
  • 2. PTJ 30:529-556. Also made available online by the Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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