Misquoting the founders, still: Jefferson didn’t say banking is the end of America

May 20, 2015

He may have believed something similar, but Jefferson did not say this:

Quote, maybe edited, falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson; gathered from Twitter, 2015

Quote, maybe edited, falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson; gathered from Twitter, 2015

I’m not sure who originated the poster.  They probably had good intentions.

But turn to the Monticello website, the scholars who track Jefferson’s words most closely, in February 2012.

Quotation: “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”

Sources consulted:

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Digital Edition
  2. Thomas Jefferson: Papers collection in Hathi Trust Digital Library
  3. Retirement Papers

Earliest known appearance in print: 19941

Earliest known appearance in print, attributed to Thomas Jefferson: see above

Status:  This exact quotation has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson.  It may be a mistaken amalgamation of the author’s comments in the above 1994 reference with a real Jefferson quotation.  Jefferson wrote in 1825 to William Branch Giles of “vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ’76 now look to a single and splendid government of an Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry.”2  Chomsky’s 1994 book quotes Jefferson’s 1825 letter to Giles and then comments that “[Jefferson] warned that that would be the end of democracy and the defeat of the American revolution.”

Jefferson didn’t like the idea of the marriage of banks, rich people and control of government policy.  Jefferson scholar Anna Berkes commented at the Monticello site:

Yes, I’ve quoted this letter myself above – I’m seeing that quote a lot lately. The full sentence as it appeared in Jefferson’s letter is, “I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it’s birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.” The letter was first published in Ford’s Writings of Thomas Jefferson in 1892 (see http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t3pv6bn68?urlappend=%3Bseq=93 – the edition you link to is a 1904 commemorative edition of Ford), and the polygraph copy is also online: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib022651.

Anna Berkes
February 29, 2012 – 4:24pm

In any case, it’s not the end of our democratic republic yet! Get out there and organize, and vote.

Jefferson always offered good advice.

Jefferson's advice on quotes found on the internet

Jefferson’s advice on quotes found on the internet


Celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday at Monticello, April 11

March 27, 2014

Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia.

The good people who operate Monticello, Jefferson’s glorious home in Virginia, will kick off a weekend of celebration on April 11, the Friday before Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Want to join in the celebration in Jefferson’s home?

U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

Come Celebrate Jefferson’s Birthday!

Friday, April 11
At Monticello

Monticello will mark the 271st anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth with a celebration and ceremonies on the West Lawn. Held in conjunction with Founder’s Day at the University of Virginia, the event will feature remarks by James H. Webb, Jr., former U.S. Senator from Virginia and the 2014 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership, and the presentation of wreaths honoring Jefferson by local, state, and national organizations. 10 a.m., free and open to the public. (Admission required for house tours.)

Jefferson MedalOther Events
You may also be interested in related events being held at the University of Virginia as part of Founder’s Day:

April 10

  • 12:30 p.m. Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist in Citizen Leadership The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will host a talk by James H. Webb, Jr., former U.S. Senator (D-Va.) and Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam veteran and successful author, journalist and filmmaker, in Garrett Hall.

April 11

  • 10:00 a.m. Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist in Law: A public talk will be held in the Caplin Pavilion featuring Kenneth R. Feinberg, an attorney who has administered the compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech and the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • 3:30 p.m. Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist in Architecture
    The School of Architecture will host a public talk by Toyo Ito, a Tokyo-based architect who combines conceptual innovation with superbly executed buildings, as in his masterpiece, the Sendai Mediatheque, which reimagines what a public museum and library should be in the digital age, in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.

Learn more about all Founder’s Day events


Don’t misquote Jefferson . . . a moving target

January 27, 2011

Monticello, from the former header of A Summary View

Monticello, from the former header of A Summary View

That wonderful blog, “A Summary View,” which so often worked on misquotes from Jefferson? Moribund at the old WordPress site.

But arisen anew, in a grander cover, and keeping up the spirit of learning about Thomas Jefferson, here: A Summary View, at Monticello’s site.

Great history, like:

Anna Berkes continues to enlighten and brighten the study of history.

 


Proper flag display, on the way to Monticello

July 4, 2009

U.S. flag displayed over Virginia Route 53, the road to Monticello, Jeffersons home in Virginia, 2008 - Photo by Emory

U.S. flag displayed over Virginia Route 53, the road to Monticello, Jefferson's home in Virginia, 2008 - Photo by Emory

Properly displayed, by the way.  The field is in the “northwest” position.


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