Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Thomas Jefferson (17431826)
A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to John B. Colvin, September 20, 1810.The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul L. Ford, vol. 9, p. 279 (1898).