He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truth without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.

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More from Thomas Jefferson

How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.

letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825

Take things always by their smooth handle.

letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825

When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825

If, in my retirement to the humble station of a private citizen, I am accompanied with the esteem and approbation of my fellow citizens, trophies obtained by the bloodstained steel, or the tattered flags of the tented field, will never be envied. The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

letter to the Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, March 31, 1809

Although an old man, I am but a young gardener.