Bad government results from too much government (Quotation)

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

Variations:

  1. "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"

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
  2. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
  3. Thomas Jefferson: Papers and Biographies collections in Hathi Trust Digital Library

Earliest known appearance in print: 1913[1]

Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Jefferson: 1950[2]

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."[3] 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.[4]

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