Monday, January 14, 2013

Fake Jefferson Quotes

The Founding Fathers are frequently quoted in the gun control debate, but many of those quotations turn out to be fake.

The most popular comment on a recent story about gun control featured a purported quotation from Thomas Jefferson. More than 2,000 votes pushed it to the top.

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty," reads the quotation. "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. 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 same quotation has been posted dozens of times in other readers' posts. Some readers worked to debunk it by mentioning, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's website, which has a section devoted to "spurious" quotations that have been attributed to the third president of the United States. The website lists several variations of the quotation, featured on two pages, and says staff "have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote" those words.
Guess which side of the gun debate uses and benefits from fake quotes that are repeated and repeated?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Nothing is worse then the Gun Wackos Total BS "Liberty Teeth" quote from George washington.

  2. They aren't fake quotes because someone said them, they are quotes that aren't attributed correctly; granted that that is sometimes on purpose.

    On the other hand, you have a blackout of actual quotes by guys like Lincoln that help continue the myth of his supposed greatness. I find that much more offensive.

    orlin sellers

  3. There's only one relevant quotation: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Before anyone swoops in, the militia clause is irrelevant to the right. All the other quotations, real or spurious, are irrelevant to the right. They are interesting--whether genuine or fake, and for different reasons--but the only relevant document is the Constitution.