Bozell Group Uses Fake Jefferson Quote


Warren Throckmorton reports that the group ForAmerica, which was founded by right wing looney L. Brent Bozell, has been spreading a fake quote from Thomas Jefferson all over Facebook. This one isn’t about church and state though, it’s about the scope of government:

Throckmorton links to the Monticello website, which debunks this quote:

Quotation: “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
Variations:

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government has grown out of too much government.”

Sources consulted: Searching on the phrase “bad government” and “too much government”

Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
Thomas Jefferson: Papers and Biographies collections in Hathi Trust Digital Library

Earliest known appearance in print: 1913

Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Jefferson: 1950

Other attributions: John Sharp Williams

Comments: This exact quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. It bears some slight resemblance to a statement he made in a letter to John Norvell of June 14, 1807: “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.” However, the quotation as it appears above can definitely be attributed to John Sharp Williams in a speech about Jefferson, which has most likely been mistaken at some point for a direct quotation of Jefferson.

He also notes that when an atheist group used a fake Jefferson quote last year, they owned up to it when corrected. Will ForAmerica?

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    You know that the most Bozell will do is say that Jefferson may not have said it but he thought it. Retroactive psychic powers you know.

  2. Larry says

    Jefferson said it in that same speech where he declared that the United States was founded as a christian nation.

  3. daveau says

    I got bombarded from my few remaining Republican friends sharing this on my FB page. I replied that Jefferson never said any such thing, and a tiny bit of research would tell them that.

    It was also the perfect place for the quote: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” –Abraham Lincoln

  4. imrryr says

    “I predict that one day a man named L. Brent Bozell will be born in the glorious Jesus loving country and he’ll be like the most smartest and handsomest dude on the planet and you should do whatever he says and give him all your money.” – Thomas Jefferson.

  5. longstreet63 says

    What do these people think government was like circa 1775, anyway?
    Too much government was hardly likely to have occurred to anyone at that point in time, when the problem was often the private contractors who paid the crown(s) to perform government functions, like tax collection. Commerce tended towards royal monopolies, obtained by paying off the right official, but these were private companies operating for their own profit at everyone else’s expense.
    Unless by ‘government’ one means the unrestricted power of money to bribe unaccountable officials into using the state to support your business.
    Except the right seems to think that’s the proper state of affairs for a government.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    It was also the perfect place for the quote: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” –Abraham Lincoln

    I see there’s a new documentary on Lincoln in the theaters now.

  7. fastlane says

    He also notes that when an atheist group used a fake Jefferson quote last year, they owned up to it when corrected. Will For America?

    Place your bets, folks. I’ve got 20 to 1 against that FA will even acknowledge, and 10 to 1 against that they will issue some kind of notpology.

  8. dingojack says

    Reginald Selkirk – ‘… but about from that Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the documentary?’
    Dingo
    —–
    ‘Like it was a fully sick tempura tyranasaurus, dude!’ – John Wilkes Booth.

    Some other stuff I just made up. Prof. Emeratus Lord David Barton OFM, MRSoE, DSO (with bar of soap), VC (with grape clusters) & etc.
    Vanity Press: Centervlle Ohio, 2010.

  9. says

    “Will For America?”.

    Oh, Ed, you have the most snarkliciously sardonic sense of humor.

    Was it Benjamin Franklin who said:

    “Bong hits are proof that GOD loves man.”?

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