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I would rather be judged by 12 farmers than 12 scholars (Spurious Quotation)
Quotation: "I would rather be judged by 12 farmers than 12 scholars."
- "I would rather be judged by twelve farmers than twelve scholars."
Sources consulted: Searching on the phrase "12/twelve farmers," and "12/twelve scholars"
- Monticello website
- Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Digital Edition
- Ford's Works of Thomas Jefferson
- Lipscomb & Bergh's Writings of Thomas Jefferson (in Google Books)
- UVA EText Jefferson Digital Archive: Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, Texts by or to Thomas Jefferson from the Modern English Collection
- Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
- Quotable Jefferson (searching in the index under "jury trial," "judgment," "scholars," and "farmers")
Earliest known appearance in print: This quotation has not appeared in print so far as we know.1
Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Jefferson: This quotation has not appeared in print, although it was attributed to Jefferson by Glenn Beck in a December 18, 2009 appearance on The Jay Leno Show.2
Other attributions: none known
Status: This exact quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. It may be a reference to Jefferson's comment to his nephew Peter Carr, "State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules."3
- 1. To establish the earliest appearance of this phrase in print, the following sources were searched for the phrases "12 scholars" and "12 farmers": Google Books, Google Scholar, Amazon.com, America's Historical Newspapers, American Broadsides and Ephemera Series I, Early American Imprints Series I and II, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, American Periodicals Series Online, JSTOR.
- 2. LiveDash.com, "The Jay Leno Show," Aired on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009 (12/18/2009) at 11:00 P.M.
- 3. Jefferson to Carr, August 10, 1787, in PTJ, 12:15. Transcription available at Founders Online.