Misquoting Founders Is a Political Epidemic
You can't believe all you read online
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 7, 2011 3:47 PM CDT
Thomas Jefferson gets words put in his mouth a lot.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Between the current interest in America’s founders and a “willingness to believe” the Internet, political misquotes are flying these days, writes David A. Fahrenthold in the Washington Post. A look over the past two years of C-SPAN and the Congressional Record shows that politicians—including congressmen, senators, and the president—have wrongly quoted the founding fathers at least 30 times.

Republicans have often misquoted the founders to suggest they’d back current conservative thinking. But “even if the founders didn’t say those things, would they have agreed with them?” It depends, historians say. Thomas Jefferson preferred small government—but George Washington called for a stronger federal government. Misquoting Washington is “a betrayal of who he was,” says a historian. Check out some of the misquotes at left. Or read about Sarah Palin's recent Paul Revere flap.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Lyko
Jun 7, 2011 8:54 PM CDT
Thomas Jefferson wrote that the government is best that governs least. - Sen. Rand Paul, misquoting Jefferson L.O.L. Yeah, that was actually Henry David Thoreau in "Civil Disobedience". And dear ol' Henry also went on to say that went we've earned that lack of government, we'll have it...but until then, we need strong government to enforce rules.
cornelison
Jun 7, 2011 7:27 PM CDT
I'm waiting for Palin to use. "Don't shoot 'til you see the yolks of their eyes."
SPHeroid
Jun 7, 2011 5:21 PM CDT
I'm always amused by how conservatives LOVE to (mis)-quote the founders to support their positions... Hey Cons, the founders were LIBERALS... Fostering and winning a revolution is as liberal as it gets....