April 29, 1962
President John F. Kennedy made the following opening remarks at a White House dinner honoring a gathering of Nobel Prize winners,
Ladies and gentlemen:
I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.
Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet. Whatever he may have lacked if he could have had his former colleague Mr. Franklin here we all would have been impressed.
Jefferson in some cases could be called a prophet. So here are some quotes from Mr. Jefferson that seem very appropriate to repeat today.
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
In light of the present financial crisis, it's interesting to read what Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks,
and corporations that will grow up around the banks, will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.