Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Jefferson: 20052
Comments: Neither this quotation nor any of its variant forms has been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson. Its first known appearance in print was in 1952, although it is most likely older. It appeared frequently in newspapers in the 1950s (usually unattributed), and was even used in political cartoons. It was copyrighted in 1957 by the General Features Corporation, as part of a syndicated newspaper feature called "Today's Chuckle." It later became a popular saying among Republican politicians. Governor Harold W. Handley of Indiana used it in his annual message to the Indiana General Assembly in 1961;3 Barry Goldwater was quoted using it in his 1964 run for president;4 and Gerald Ford is on record using it in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974.5 It was attributed to Ford as early as 1954, however,6 and Ford's assistant, Robert Hartmann, said that Ford claimed to have heard the quotation "early in his political career" from Harvard McClain at the Economic Club of Chicago.7
5. Suzy Platt, ed., Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989), 140. Available online at http://www.bartleby.com/73/714.html. See the text of Ford's speech at the American Presidency Project.
6. Margaret Turner, A Woman's Angle, Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal, February 21, 1954.