Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Thomas Jefferson: 19872
Other attributions: Ralph Nader
Status: We currently have no evidence to confirm that Thomas Jefferson ever said or wrote, "Information is the currency of democracy."
Comments: The earliest known attribution to Thomas Jefferson (in print) is dated 1987, although this may have happened earlier. Print sources more commonly attribute this quotation to Ralph Nader.3
Coates, Eyler Robert, Sr., ed. Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government. "The Safest Depository." A collection of Jefferson quotations about the necessity of education for self-government.
1.Proc. Annual Newspaper Guild Convention (s.n., 1971), 8. To establish the earliest appearance of this phrase in print, the following sources were searched for the phrase, "information is the currency of democracy": Google Books, Google Scholar, Amazon.com, Internet Archive, America's Historical Newspapers, American Broadsides and Ephemera Series I, Early American Imprints Series I and II, Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, American Periodicals Series Online, JSTOR, Access Newspaper Archive.
3. Nader's earliest recorded usage of this quotation is in a November 2, 1971, press conference announcing his "Congress Project." His remarks were published in a number of newspapers, most notably in The New York Times on December 23, 1971 (Ralph Nader, "The Underachievements of Congress.").