Quotation: "When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant."

Variations: “Speech that condemns a free press are the words of a tyrant” [sic].

Sources consulted:

  1. Founders Online
  2. Thomas Jefferson Retirement papers

Earliest known appearance in print: N/A

Comments: This quotation has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson.  Its earliest known appearance to date is a meme generated in late February 2017.[1]  It apparently spread from there to Twitter, with a few usages in March and then a flurry of appearances in late June and July 2017.  Its ultimate origin is unknown.[2]

Further Sources

  • Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Quotes and Family Letters Database.  Search for Jefferson quotes by keyword or topic; quotes are vetted by Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series editors.


  1. ^ Imgflip, "Thomas Jefferson Tyrant Quote."
  2. ^ The earliest located appearance on Twitter is March 7, 2017.