"Few die and none resign’ (or “few die, none resign") has been said of public officeholders who live long and well on the government payroll. President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), in a July 1801 letter to New Haven (CT) merchants about the office of Collector of New-Haven, wrote:
“If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few, by resignation none. Can any other mode than removal, be proposed?”
This was shortened to “Few die, and none resign” by at least April 1802.
Wikiquote: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 – 4 July 1826) was the third president of the United States (1801–1809), author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), a political philosopher, and one of the most influential founders of the United States.
If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few; by resignation, none.
. Letter to Elias Shipman and others of New Haven (12 July 1801). Often misquoted as, “few die and none resign”.
Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
Few die, none resign (Quotation)
“Few die, none resign”, is a paraphrase of a statement Thomas Jefferson made in a letter to a group of New Haven, Connecticut merchants in 1801:
“if a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? those by death are few. by resignation none.”
It appears that this shortening of Jefferson’s statement has been in use for quite some time. Jefferson’s 1801 letter to the New Haven merchants was published in a number of newspapers within a matter of weeks after it was written, so potentially it could have entered public currency and been paraphrased almost immediately. By 1836, the phrase “few die, none resign” was described in one journal as “that remarkable apothegm of Mr. Jefferson.” Jefferson’s original version was quoted in a 1901 collection of “the world’s best orations”, listed under the title “Few Die, None Resign;” early twentieth-century textbooks even use the phrase in grammar exercises.
30 July 1801, Alexandria (VA) Advertiser, pg. 2:
THE PRESIDENT’S REPLY.
Washington, July 12, 1801.
I HAVE received the remonstrance you were pleased to address to me, on the appointment of Samuel Bishop, to the office of Collector of New-Haven, lately vacated by the death of David Austin.
Can the preference of another, as the successor of Mr. Austin, be candidly called a removal of Mr. Goodrich? If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few, by resignation none. Can any other mode than removal, be proposed?
I tender you the homage
Of my high respect,
To Elias Shipman, Esq. & other members of a committee of the merchants of New-Haven.
7 April 1802, Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 2:
“FEW DIE, AND NONE RESIGN.” Jef.
19 March 1805, The Balance and Columbian Repository (Hudson, NY), pg. 2, col. 1:
Mr. Jefferson, in rueful mood, has said of the judges and other officers, “few die — none resign.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 02, 2010 • Permalink