Way back in 2012 I wrote this:
A group calling itself “Patriotic Moms” claims to quote Thomas Jefferson:
“A country with no Border is not a country.”
I can’t find that in Jefferson’s writings. Anybody know if Jefferson said or wrote anything like that? Got a citation?
Is this another fake Jefferson quote?
- Quote of the moment: Jefferson, on reason in a republic (timpanogos. wordpress.com)
- ‘Historian’ David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson pulled from stores (rawstory.com)
- Recalling Revisionist History (kennysideshow.blogspot.com)
- Kansas congressional candidate changes name to Thomas Jefferson (kansascity.com)
- “Misquoting Jefferson,” at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub
- “Fake quotes in prize-winning essays,” at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub
Here we are, over a year later, and this does not appear in any form that I think we can say Jefferson said it, or wrote it. It’s not in any Jefferson collection I can find.
Perhaps even more telling, our old friend Higginbotham finds a solid attribution to former Congressman Mike Pence (now Governor of Indiana), introducing a bill in Congress in 2005.
The judges rule Jefferson did not say “A country with no border is not a country.” Neither did he say “A nation with no border is not a nation.” In his bogus quote, neither did he add “secure” before the last “country” or “nation.”
It’s a misattributed quote, a bogus quote, a distortion of history, whatever epithet you wish to impale it on. But it’s not from the canon of Thomas Jefferson wisdom. It’s been flying around the internet this past week, and my earlier post has increased activity. Perhaps immigration is about to heat up as an issue? Time to put this canard down.
Here’s one thing that should make you very wary of any quote in any similar circumstance: No one seems to know what the occasion was that Jefferson made the remark, nor the date, nor the format. Jefferson’s writings are extensively indexed, and he kept copies himself of about 15,000 letters, for the sake of history. If you can’ t find it quickly, he probably didn’t say it.
More, in 2013:
- Thomas Jefferson and Phillis Wheatley (stocktonamlitfall13.wordpress.com)
- 30 Thomas Jefferson Famous Quotes (nguyenlongho.com)
- 19 Famous Thomas Jefferson ‘Quotes’ That He Actually Never Said At All (businessinsider.com)
- Thomas Jefferson’s Quran: How Islam Shaped the Founders (3quarksdaily.com)
- 7 Warning Signs of Bogus History (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- Wikiquote page on Jefferson; you won’t find the quote there, not even as misattributed
- Quotations from Jefferson, confirmed by the good folks at Monticello
- Most of the time, when Jefferson used the word “border,” he meant the border of a flower or vegetable garden