We all love quotes. They put us in touch with the thoughts of those whom we respect, and they are typically clever and succinct. Moreover, they demonstrate the breadth of our learning and show the deftness of our minds as we recall relevant statements.
We seem to love fake quotes even more. Unlike actual quotes, they can have their relevance tailored to an occasion; we don’t have to worry about precision recall of the wording; and best of all, they fit on a meme perfectly… because many of them were written with memes in mind.
In honor of Independence Day, and the patriotism that seems to swell in the hearts of many people who can’t really explain what the connections are between our founding principles and the patriotism they feel… although they’re fairly certain there’s a strong connection somewhere… we present some of our favorite fake quotes from founders… and the years they first appeared, when known.
(For more, you can visit sites such as Monticello (for fake Jefferson quotes) and Mount Vernon (for fake Washington quotes) or just do searches for fake and false quotes. They’re surprisingly common.)
- Dissent is the highest form of patriotism – Thomas Jefferson (1961)
- This would be the best of all possible Worlds, if there were no Religion in it – John Adams (TECHNICALLY TRUE! But intentionally cut to ignore his surrounding words and his follow-up from the same letter : Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell. )
- Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process – George Washington (1884)
- When a nation mistrusts its citizens with guns it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans. – George Washington (2000s, online)
- An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people – Thomas Jefferson (2000s, online)
- Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty – Thomas Jefferson (actually by John Philpot Curran, in a variant)
- Continued deficit spending must ultimately endanger all governments – George Washington (20th century)
- A penny saved is a penny earned Benjamin Franklin (actual quote: A penny saved is two pence clear – which demonstrates economic understanding)
- Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy – Benjamin Franklin (20th century, although Franklin did love beer and praised God for its development)
- Those who stand for nothing fall for anything – Alexander Hamilton (old quote; misattribution may have started when newsreader Alex Hamilton used the quote in a 1978 broadcast)
Here are five of Lenny’s favorite examples of our oh-so-educated political leaders using misquotes:
- Rand Paul said, “Thomas Jefferson, wrote that government is best that governs least.”
- Louie Gohmert atributed this to George Washington “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
- Rep Stuzman gave Jefferson credit for ““Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”
- Obama said this ““We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” leaving out the creator part.
- Coburn atributed this to Jefferson “The democracy will cease to exist, when you take away from those who are willing to work to give to those who would not.”
So, questions of the night: A) What’s your favorite Founding Fathers quote? and B) What’s your favorite Founding Fathers FAKE quote?