Quotation: "Without God, liberty will not last."

Variations: None known.

Sources consulted:

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Digital Edition
  2. Retirement Papers
  3. Google/Google Books
  4. Access Newspaper Archive

Earliest known appearance in print: 1996[1]

Other attributions: None known.

Status: This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.

Comments: This quotation seems to have originated in a 1996 article by Thomas G. West, "The Conservatism of the Declaration of Independence."  West writes, "Jefferson said, without God, liberty will not last."  This was probably intended as a paraphrase of Jefferson, not a direct quotation, although it seems to have been understood as such by many readers.  It is possible that it is a reference to Jefferson's comment in Notes on the State of Virginia: "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?"[2] It could also be a paraphrase of another (also spurious) quotation, "The Bible is the source of liberty."

-Anna Berkes, 3/30/10


  1. ^ Thomas G. West, "The Conservatism of the Declaration of Independence," Precepts (May 10, 1996).
  2. ^ Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Richmond: J.W. Randolph, 1853), 174.