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Thomas Jefferson Quotations on the Environment

"The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on."
(October 28, 1785, to James Madison)

"How sublime to look down on the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thunder, all fabricated at our feet!"
(October 12, 1786, to Maria Cosway)

"I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."
(December 20, 1787, to James Madison)

"...There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me..."
(December 23, 1790, to Martha Jefferson Randolph)

"I never before knew the full value of trees....What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown."
(July 7, 1793, to Martha Jefferson Randolph)

"When earth is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance and of the best quality."
(July 21, 1793, to Martha Jefferson Randolph)

"The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to it's culture."
(1800, Memorandum of Services, Writings)

"The general desire of men to live by their heads rather than their hands, and the strong allurements of great cities to those who have any turn for dissipation, threaten to make them here, as in Europe, the sinks of voluntary misery."
(November 14, 1803, to David Williams)

"We must use a good deal of economy in our wood, never cutting down new, where we can make the old do."
(December 8, 1806, to Edmund Bacon)

"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest a continued one through the year."
(August 20, 1811, to Charles W. Peale)

"And Botany I rank with the most valuable sciences, whether we consider its subjects as furnishing the principal subsistence of life to man and beast, delicious varieties for our tables, refreshments from our orchards, the adornments of our flower-borders, shade and perfume of our groves, materials for our buildings, or medicaments for our bodies."
(October 7, 1814, to Thomas Cooper)

Quotations compiled by the Monticello Research Department 

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