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Another quotation debunked!
Most quotations we're asked about sound nothing like Thomas Jefferson, but since I can't pin down their true source, they sort of hang frustratingly out there in Quotation Limbo. So it gives me great satisfaction to be able to actually run one to ground once in a while. I just laid this one to rest:
"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."
This displays a phenomenon which I've noticed before, in which somehow someone commenting on Jefferson is mistaken for Jefferson himself - this seems an eggregious bit of sloppiness to me, but I guess sometimes people can't be bothered to notice what they're actually reading, they just like the words and they like the name Jefferson.
Anyway, this was in fact Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi (1854-1932), in a speech given at Columbia University in 1912. I have, of course, noted this in the TJ Encyclopedia. On a related note, I spotted someone fighting the injustice of spurious TJ quotations using the Encyclopedia...it almost brings a tear to my eye!