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. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
  2. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series
  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 11, 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]

References

  1. ^ John Sharp Williams, Thomas Jefferson: His Permanent Influence on American Institutions (New York: Columbia University Press, 1913), 49.
  2. ^ Bertie Charles Forbes, Forbes (New York, Forbes Inc., 1950), 34.
  3. ^ Ford, 9:72. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  4. ^ Suzy Platt, Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989), 147.

Spurious Quotations