Thomas Jefferson/misquotes

From Issuepedia

Misquoting Thomas Jefferson seems to be a popular pastime on both sides of the political spectrum. Some things Jefferson did not say but which are widely attributed to him include the following:

Democracy

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

attributions

reality

Government

A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have....

reality

  • Monticello has not found this anywhere in Jefferson's writings
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

reality

  • Monticello says "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."

Gun Laws

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.

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reality

  • Monticello: while he never said it himself, he did include the quote in his Legal Commonplace Book (which may or may not indicate approval).
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.

reality

Montecello says "This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. It is often seen preceded by the sentence, "No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms," which is from Jefferson's draft of the Virginia Constitution."

Religion

"...I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature...": a quote with two versions

Social Welfare

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

attributions

reality

I can't find a definitive statement that he did not say this, but it's not in any of the reliable collections and nobody cites a source for it.