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Bad government results from too much government (Spurious Quotation)
Quotation: "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."
- "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"
- The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
- The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series
- Thomas Jefferson: Papers and Biographies collections in Hathi Trust Digital Library
Earliest known appearance in print: 19131
Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Jefferson: 19502
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
- 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.