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

Share with your friends

More from Thomas Jefferson

Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825