Quotation: "Nothing is more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people."


  1. "Nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequal people."
  2. "Nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals."
  3. "Nothing is more unequal than to treat unequals equally."
  4. "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

Sources consulted:

  1. Founders Online
  2. Thomas Jefferson retirement papers
  3. Google Books
  4. Hathi Trust
  5. Access Newspaper Archive
  6. American Periodicals Series

Earliest known appearance in print: 1902[1]

Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Thomas Jefferson: 1981[2]

Other attributions:  Plato, Felix Frankfurter,[3] Anton Menger[fn]Quoted as a "well-known epigram" of Menger, in Proceedings of the National Conference of Social Work, 49th Annual Session.  Providence, RI, June 22-29, 1922 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922),

Comments:  This statement has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson.  It has long been associated with the education profession, but did not become attached to Thomas Jefferson until fairly recently.  Note that the earliest known appearance in print is clearly quoting an earlier source; in another publication, the same author identifies Plato as his source.[4] - possibly a reference to Plato's statement in his Laws, "...when equality is given to unequal things, the resultant will be unequal..."[5]

- Anna Berkes, 9/17/14


  1. ^ James Edward Le Rossignol, Taxation in Colorado (Denver, CO: G.T. Bishop, 1902), 48.
  2. ^ Carolyn T. Gracenin, Thoughts, Troubles, and Things About Reading from the Cradle Through Grade Three (Saratoga, CA: Century Twenty One, 1981), 51.
  3. ^ The Yale Book of Quotations, cf. Felix Frankfurter.
  4. ^ James Edward Le Rossignol, What is Socialism?: An Explanation and Criticism of the Doctrines and Proposals of "Scientific Socialism" (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1921), 6.
  5. ^ Plato, Laws, 6.757a, available online in Tufts University's Perseus Digital Library.