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That'll teach me
Increasingly I'm coming to believe that I'm totally wasting my time in assiduously searching all sorts of websites, databases and books to figure out whether or not Thomas Jefferson is the source of a given quote. Really (I tell myself), if it quacks like a duck, it's most likely a duck. Or, in my case, if it sounds like a Hallmark card or a self-help book, it's probably not from the pen of Thomas Jefferson.
Just to entertain you, here are some of my favorite silly quotes that people have attributed to Jefferson:
- "Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you."
- "That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archive of our experiences."
- "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of Government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart."
Ha ha! Those are awful. No way Thomas Jefferson ever wrote any of that twaddle!
The latest "clunker," as I call these types of, er, obvious non-TJ quotes, is apparently fluttering around the Twitter-verse, and goes like this: "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." Gah! It sounds like a Hallmark card.
But, as you may have already surmised from my title, my TJ-quotation radar was totally off in this instance. He did write that. "I am sure [the succeeding generation] will have more worldly wisdom, and enough, I hope, to know that honesty is the 1st chapter in the book of wisdom." (to Nathaniel Macon, January 12, 1819)
So, no intuitive shortcuts. Even the author of the Declaration of Independence wrote cheesy stuff sometimes.