"if we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802[1]

In Print:

Note: This passage has often been mis-quoted as, "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." The Washington, Ford, and Lipscomb-Bergh editions have all mis-transcribed the original text as, "If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."

References

  1. ^ Transcription from letterpress copy at the Library of Congress.  See also this quotation's entry in the Jefferson Quotes and Family Letters database.

Quotations