I am not an advo­cate for frequent changes in laws and consti­tu­tions, but laws and insti­tu­tions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more devel­oped, more enlight­ened, as new discov­eries are made, new truths discov­ered and manners and opin­ions change, with the change of circum­stances, insti­tu­tions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civi­lized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ances­tors.” — Thomas Jefferson

Orig­inal Passage
“I am certainly not an advo­cate for frequent and untried changes in laws and consti­tu­tions. I think moderate imper­fec­tions had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accom­mo­date ourselves to them, and find prac­tical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and insti­tu­tions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more devel­oped, more enlight­ened, as new discov­eries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opin­ions change with the change of circum­stances, insti­tu­tions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civi­lized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ances­tors.” — Jefferson to H. Tomp­kinson (AKA Samuel Kercheval), July 12, 1816 · Go to Thomas Jefferson on change →