Thomas Jefferson

“I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too may devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind…. another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”

- Thomas Jefferson, 1785

“I love to see honest men and honorable men at the helm, men who will not bend their politics to their purses, nor pursue measures by which they may profit, and then profit by their measures.” 

-Thomas Jefferson, 1796

“Whether property alone, and the whole of what each citizen possesses, shall be subject to contribution, or only its surplus after satisfying his first wants, or whether the faculties of body and mind shall contribute also from their annual earnings, is a question to be decided. But, when decided, and the principle settled, it is to be equally and fairly applied to all. To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it." If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra-taxation violates it”.

- Thomas Jefferson, 1816

“I considered 4 of these bills, passed or reported, as forming a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of antient or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government truly republican. The repeal of the laws of entail would prevent the accumulation and perpetuation of wealth in select families and preserve the soil of the country from being daily more & more absorbed in Mortmain. The abolition of primogeniture, and equal partition of inheritances removed the feudal and unnatural distinctions which made one member of every family rich, and all the rest poor, substituting equal partition, the best of all Agrarian laws.”

- Thomas Jefferson, autobiography, c. 1821

“… there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents. There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents.”

- Thomas Jefferson, 1813

“The happiness and prosperity of our citizens is the only legitimate object of government.”

-Thomas Jefferson, 1811

“The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on…it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land.”

- Thomas Jefferson, 1785

Albert Gallatin, Treasury Secretary 1801-1814

“As their scheme existed in the minds of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Gallatin, and Mr. Madison, it was broad as society itself, and aimed at providing for and guiding the moral and material development of a new era… They failed, and although their failure was due partly to accident, it was due chiefly to the fact that they put too high an estimate upon human nature. They failed as Hamilton and his associates, with a different ideal and equally positive theories, had failed before them.”

– Henry Adams, writing on Albert Gallatin, 1879

John Adams

“As long as Property exists, it will accumulate in Individuals and Families. Accumulations of it will be made, the Snowball will grow as it rolls.”

- John Adams, 1814

Frederick Douglass

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

-Frederick Douglass, 1886