Misquoting de Toqueville, with wild, made up stuff

February 12, 2015

Justice Sutherland is probably storming around his tomb, more than just rolling in his grave.

Putting words in the mouths of historic figures. de Tocqueville did not say this -- and the quote doesn't appear until 1951. Barely pre-John Birch Society.

Putting words in the mouths of historic figures. de Tocqueville did not say this — and the quote doesn’t appear until 1951. Barely pre-John Birch Society.

Ho, ho, ho.  This ugly distortion of democratic operations in the American republic comes around every time some Democrat proposes to spend money to make America great. Oddly, it never comes around when a Republican proposes to spend money to build death machines or take America to war.

The sentiment assumes that Congress is inherently corrupt — which it is only in Mark Twain quips.  Your congressman isn’t corrupt, you say, as about 80% of Americans agree.  Only when they get together . . .

It’s a good one-liner.  It’s bad politics, bad analysis, and bad history.  de Tocqueville didn’t say it, one can easily learn at Wikiquote.

Who said it?  Where did it come from?  Wikiquote, again:

This is a variant expression of a sentiment which is often attributed to Tocqueville or Alexander Fraser Tytler, but the earliest known occurrence is as an unsourced attribution to Tytler in “This is the Hard Core of Freedom” by Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman (9 December 1951): “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Who was Elmer T. Peterson — and more importantly, why should anyone pay heed to his distortion of the operations of the Constitutional republic we have?

Peterson was a professor and Dean of the College of Education at Iowa State University in the mid-20th century.

Peterson published two studies in collaboration with Dr. Everet F. Lindquist, Malcolm P. Price and Henry A. Jeep: “A Census of the Public School Teaching Personnel of Iowa for the School Year 1928-29”, published by the state of Iowa in 1932, and “Teacher Supply and Demand in Iowa,” published by the University of Iowa in the same year.

Brian Williams was suspended from the NBC Nightly News for less. Will the Sutherland Institute resign, now?


  • The Sutherland Institute is a right-wing, states rights and anti-government group in Utah, mis-named (IMHO) after Utah’s only U.S. Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland; to the best of my knowledge, Sutherland avoided returning to Utah as much as possible after he left the Senate, a continuing part of his trials after bolting from the LDS Church; as a justice, Sutherland represented a much discredited philosophy, but keeps respect among modern scholars despite “the distinction of having more opinions overruled than any other justice in the history of the Court” (John Fox, writing for the PBS series on the Supreme Court; yes, it’s an odd claim)

Even when he’s almost correct, David Barton doctors his accounts of history to make them false: Misquoting John Adams

July 5, 2013

Here’s David Barton‘s screw-up of a John Adams letter:

David Barton cuts John Adams's words off

David Barton’s “Wallbuilders” website featured John Adams’s description of July 2 — but conveniently edited out Adams’s own words, to make it appear as something else. Barton misses the history! What sort of anti-American cuts the words of John Adams when Adams defends liberty’s heritage?

Other groups make the same error as David Barton's Wallbuilders, but without obvious cover ups, restricting their comments to "Independence Day." Accuracy helps, always.

Other groups make the same error as David Barton’s Wallbuilders, but without obvious cover ups, restricting their comments to “Independence Day.” Accuracy helps, always.

“The . . . day of July, 1776?”  What day?

[Barton’s site changes annually, but it keeps repeating the cover-up.]

Faithful readers, and good students of history know that John Adams thought, in 1776, that July 2 would be celebrated as Independence Day.  Why?  July 2, 1776, was the day the 2nd Continental Congress voted to declare the colonies independent of Britain, and no longer under the rule of the Crown or Parliament.

The Declaration of Independence — the press release explaining Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence — sat ready to be discussed.  The Congress did not adopt the Declaration until two days later, on July 4.

Our Independence Day celebration falls on the date of the adoption of the Declaration, not the date of the actual resolution declaring independence.

This is a point of great humor among historians.  Even John Adams, more prescient than most soothsayers, could not predict accurately when Americans would celebrate independence.  Here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, we often make a post on or about July 2, noting that humorous discrepancy.

That’s interesting.  It’s inspiring to know these august figures, near-gods in the American pantheon of the 21st century, got things wrong.  It’s humorous.  It’s good history.

What in the hell was David Barton thinking?

What evil purpose is he trying to serve by hiding real history, in such a bizarrely petty way?  Why create a hoax when the words themselves support the point you’re wishing to make, that John Adams thought Americans should celebrate independence?

Screenshot of David Barton's webpage, showing his bizarre butchery of Adams's words.

Screenshot of David Barton’s webpage, showing his bizarre butchery of Adams’s words.

Sheesh! He comes so close to getting something accurate, but he can’t resist monkeying with the words of the Founders.  David Barton reminds me of the guy who cheated at golf so much that, one day when he hit a hole-in-one, he wrote “0!” on the scorecard.  A man who will lie to us about one of the most famous letters in American history will lie about anything, for fun.


John Adams, ca 1816, by Samuel F.B. Morse (Bro...

‘David Barton said what?’ By the time this portrait was painted, Adams knew Americans would celebrate the 4th, and not the 2nd; he seems to be glaring right at David Barton, to tell Barton to quit jerking around with history – John Adams, ca 1816, by Samuel F.B. Morse (Brooklyn Museum) Wikipedia image

Nope, Patrick Henry didn’t say that

April 8, 2013

More misquoting of “the Founders”:

For America misquotes Patrick Henry

For America’s poster featuring a quote falsely claimed to be from Patrick Henry.  The racial right wingers won’t tell you, but the painting is a portrait by George Bagby Matthews c. 1891, after an original by Thomas Sully.

It’s baseball season.  I love a pitch into the wheelhouse.

The radical right-wing political group For America — a sort of latter-day Redneck Panther group — invented this one, and pasted it up on their Facebook site this morning.

You know where this is going, of course.  Patrick Henry didn’t say that.  The poster is a hoax.

Your Hemingway [Excrement] Detector probably clanged as soon as you pulled the poster up.  Patrick Henry was a powerful opponent to the Constitution.

Opposed to the Constitution?  Oh, yes.  It helps to know a bit of history.

Henry was at best suspicious of the drive to get a working, central government after the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution. While George Washington needed an interstate authority, at least to resolve disputes between the states, in order to create a commercial entity to build a path into the Ohio Valley, Henry was opposed.  To be sure, Washington was scheming a bit, with his dreaming:  Washington held title to more than 15,000 acres of land in the Ohio Valley, his fee for having surveyed the land for Lord Fairfax many years earlier.  Washington stood to get wealthy from the sale of the land — if a path into and out of the Ohio could be devised.  Washington struggled for years to get a canal through — seen today in the remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from Washington, D.C., up along the Potomac River.

Henry was so opposed to the states’ working together that he refused to notify Virginia’s commissioners appointed to a commission to settle the fishing and title dispute to the Chesapeake Bay, between Maryland and Virginia especially, and including Delaware.  When Maryland’s commissioners showed up in Fairfax for the first round of negotiations, they could not find the Virginia commissioners at all.  So they called on Gen. Washington at his Mt. Vernon estate (as about a thousand people a year did in those years).  Washington recognized immediately how this collaboration could aid getting a path through Maryland to the Ohio.

Perplexed at the abject failure of Virginia’s government, Washington dispatched messages to the Virginia commissioners, including a young man Washington did not know, James Madison.  Washington was shocked and disappointed to learn the Virginians did not know they had been appointed.  He suggested the Marylanders return home, and immediately began working with Madison to make the commission work.  When this group settled the Chesapeake Bay boundaries and fishing issues, and Washington’s war aide Alexander Hamilton was entangled in a separate but similar dispute between New York and New Jersey over New York Harbor, Washington introduced Hamilton and Madison to each other, and suggested they broaden their work.  Ultimately this effort produced the Annapolis Convention among five colonies, which called for a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation.  The Second Continental Congress agreed to the proposal.

When the delegates met at Philadelphia, they determined the Articles of Confederation irreparably flawed.  Instead, they wrote what we now know as the Constitution.

Patrick Henry opposed each step.  Appointed delegate to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, he refused to serve.  Instead, he was elected Governor of Virginia, and proceeded to organize opposition to ratification of the Constitution.  Madison’s unique ratification process, sending the Constitution to conventions of the people in each state, instead of to the state legislatures, was designed to get around Henry’s having locked up opposition to ratification in the Virginia Assembly.

Henry led opposition to ratification at the Virginia convention.  Outflanked by Madison, Henry was enraged by Virginia’s ratification.  Virginia had called for the addition of a bill of rights to the document, and the ratification campaign was carried partly on Madison’s promise that he would propose a bill of rights as amendments, as soon as the new federal government got up and running.  Henry sought to thwart Madison, blocking Madison’s appointment as U.S. senator, in the state legislature.  When Madison fell back to run for the House of Representatives, Henry found the best candidate to oppose Madison in the Tidewater area and threw all his support behind that candidate. (James Monroe was that candidate; in one of the more fitting ironies of history, during the campaign Monroe was persuaded to Madison’s side; Madison won the election, and the lifelong friendship and help of Monroe.)

When the new federal government organized, Henry refused George Washington’s invitation to join it in any capacity.  Henry continued to oppose the Constitution and its government to his death.

Consequently, it is extremely unlikely Henry would have ever suggested that the Constitution was a useful tool in any way, especially as a defense of freedom; Henry saw the Constitution as a threat to freedom.

There are good records of some of the things Henry really did say about the Constitution.  Henry regarded the Constitution as tyranny, and said exactly that in his speech against the Constitution on June 5, 1788:

It is said eight states have adopted this plan. I declare that if twelve states and a half had adopted it, I would, with manly firmness, and in spite of an erring world, reject it. You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.

In the same speech, Henry challenged the right of the people even to consider creating  a Constitution:

The assent of the people, in their collective capacity, is not necessary to the formation of a federal government. The people have no right to enter into leagues, alliances, or confederations; they are not the proper agents for this purpose. States and foreign powers are the only proper agents for this kind of government.

Probably diving into hyperbole, Henry portrayed the Constitution itself as a threat to liberty, not a protection from government:

When I thus profess myself an advocate for the liberty of the people, I shall be told I am a designing man, that I am to be a great man, that I am to be a demagogue; and many similar illiberal insinuations will be thrown out: but, sir, conscious rectitude outweighs those things with me.

I see great jeopardy in this new government. I see none from our present one. I hope some gentleman or other will bring forth, in full array, those dangers, if there be any, that we may see and touch them.

Anyone familiar with the history, with the story of Patrick Henry and the conflicting, often perpendicular story of the creation of the Constitution, would be alarmed at a quote in which Henry appears to claim the Constitution a protector of rights of citizens — it’s absolutely contrary to almost everything he ever said.

Perhaps most ironic, for our right-wing friends:  The quote on the poster above was invented as a defense against abuses of the Constitution by the right.  Wikiquote tracked it back to its invention:

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.

  • As quoted in The Best Liberal Quotes Ever : Why the Left is Right (2004) by William P. Martin. Though widely attributed to Henry, this statement has not been sourced to any document before the 1990s and appears to be at odds with his beliefs as a strong opponent of the adoption of the US Constitution.

“History?” For America might say. “We don’t got no history. We don’t NEED NO STINKIN’ HISTORY!”

And so they trip merrily down the path to authoritarian dictatorship, denying their direction every step of the way to their ultimate end.

The rest of us can study history, and discover the truth.


Utah report: More false “founders’ quotes” plague American discourse

April 25, 2010

Utah has a movement out to slander education and the Constitution, with a pointless claim that the Constitution cannot be called a “democracy,” damn Lincoln, Hamilton, Madison, Washington, both Roosevelts, and Reagan.

Sadly, it started in my old school district, the one where I got the last nine years of public school education, Alpine District, in the north end of Utah County.

They even have a website, Utah’s Republic. (No, Utah was never an independent republic before it was a state — it’s not like the Texas Republic wackoes, except in their wacko interpretations of law and history, where they are indistinguishable.)

At the blog from that site, there is a silly discussion on how a republic is a much superior form of government to a democracy.  Never mind that sheer numbers in our nation have always made democracy impossible (can’t get 150 million voters in one hall), or that distance makes it impossible to work (vote tomorrow in Washington, D.C.?  Everybody call the airlines, see if you can make it.)

So, I pointed out how a republic can also suggest tyranny.  And the response?  A flurry of “quotes from the founders.”

Can you vouch for any of these “quotes?”  Is any one of them accurate?

The Jefferson “mob rule” quote isn’t in any Jefferson data base that I can find. I find it also attributed to George Washington — but almost always without any citation, so you can’t check.

That maneuver is one of the key indicators of Bogus Quotes, the lack of any citation to make it difficult to track down.  All of these quotes come without citation:

As for a moral people, Washington said there could be no morality without religion and called it the “indispensable support,” not education. Obviously Jefferson and the Founders wanted education of the constitution to take place but we are very far removed from it in our education system.

Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. – John Adams

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. – Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. – Thomas Jefferson

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. – Benjamin Franklin

Democracy is the most vile form of government… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. – James Madison

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. – Abraham Lincoln

The last one is probably accurate, but irrelevant to this discussion (nice red herring, there, Oak).  Can you offer links to verify any of them?

Is this what I suspect?  The “Utah Republic” drive is not only a tempest in a teapot (though perhaps caused by other more serious maladies), but also a tempest based on false readings of history?

The website for “Utah Republic” is maintained by a guy named Oak Norton, who is obviously in thrall to the voodoo histories of David Barton and Cleon Skousen (I think Barton stole a lot of his voodoo history from Skousen, but that’s another topic for another day).

Funny:  Nowhere do these guys discuss one of the greatest drivers of the republic, over more egalitarian and more democratic forms of government.  Remember, Hamilton preferred to have an aristocracy, an elite-by-birth group, who would rule over the peasants.  He didn’t trust the peasants, the people who he saw as largely uneducated, to make critical decisions like, who should be president.  Norton doesn’t trust the peasants to get it right, and so he wants to dictate to them what they are supposed to know, in Nortonland.

Just because Oak Norton slept through high school history and government is no reason to shut down Utah’s Alpine School District or any other school; he’s not offered much evidence that everyone else missed that day in class, nor evidence that it has any significant effect.

Jefferson's advice on quotes found on the internet

Jefferson’s advice on quotes found on the internet, backdropped by his books now held by the Library of Congress.

Einstein, compound interest: Does not compute

July 22, 2006

Earlier, in the thread about bad quotes, bad scholarship and Ann Coulter, a person asked about another quote that has dogged speech writers and investment seminars for years:

I am trying to discern the author of the quote “compound interest is the greatest invention of the 20th century.” Since you mention neither Twain nor Einstein remarked this, do you know who did?? I would be very grateful.

Comment by fact checker 07.11.06 [emphasis added]

Twain’s words are well enough cataloged that, had he said it, one would be able to track it down. Think for a few minutes about Twain’s finance issues, however, and you realize it is highly unlikely that he would have said it. Twain invested heavily in a machine to mechanically set type, to publish the memoirs of former-President Ulysses Grant; the machine did not work, and Twain lost his fortune. He undertook a grueling lecture tour to make money back. Later financial setbacks forced another long lecture tour. It is not probable that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) would ever have said anything about simple compound interest. It was not his style to invest passively, or for long-term returns.

The line about compound interest being the “best invention” of mathematics, or of the 20th century, or whatever, is more often attributed to Albert Einstein. Google “compound interest” and “Einstein” and you get tens of thousands of hits.

It’s a good line, a snappy introduction to the Rule of 72 for a presentation to potential investment clients or for the introduction to the rule in a high school classroom. I have a short PowerPoint presentation on the Rule of 72 for economics classes, and I would have used the quote — had it checked out. My experience as a journalist and speechwriter urged caution.

I wrote to the Albert Einstein Institute, to the American Institute of Physics, and to other places where people might know obscure sources of Einstein’s sayings and writings, to try to verify the quote. It surely did not turn up in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, nor in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Those specialists in Einstein data and history could not verify the quote (which is the careful way of phrasing it). One fellow I spoke with said if he had a nickel for every time he was asked to verify the compound interest quote, he would have no need for compound interest.

I can say with confidence that Albert Einstein never wrote or said anything about compound interest. While Einstein wrote about a wide variety of topics, compound interest is not among them.

Fatherflot at Daily Kos wrote about this quote in early 2005, after several advocates of privatizing Social Security had used the quote in one version or another to introduce their own remarks. A lot more people read that blog, but no one there could verify it, either. There are several variants on the quote illustrated there. I think that an alleged quote’s lack of veracity is often demonstrated by mutations. For real quotes from real people, generally someone knows the original work and starts writing about what it’s supposed to be — at many cocktail parties a line about “consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds” will be corrected (Emerson said it is “a foolish consistency,” and it is “little minds”), for one example.

Einstein didn't say what this poster claims he said, either.

Einstein didn’t say what this poster claims he said, either.

As I told fact checker, I think the line was invented 40 or 50 years ago. From my checking, I would bet it was a copywriter or speechwriter working for some investment house. We may hope to someday track down the origin of the quote, and if the originator is still alive, ask her or him why the line was attributed to Einstein.

Fillmore’s bathtub runneth over with bad quotes, hoaxes gone amok, and other errors. We just try to flush a few down the drain.

Bad quotes = suspect scholarship (Ann Coulter . . .)

July 8, 2006

Partly because I spent so many years debating competitively in high school and college, I cringe when someone misattributes a quote (it’s rather a sin to do that in debate). Worse are those “quotes” that get passed around, often attributed to some famous person, which are complete fabrications.

Then there are quotes that are partly fabrication, and partly accurate. Most often, in my experience, this is done by people on the right of any issue, but it is occasionally a sin of someone on the left as well. The Right Honorable Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars shows wisdom in calling to task someone with whose point he agrees, but who quoted Thomas Jefferson incorrectly. Go see Brayton’s post here, “False Founding Father Quotes From Our Side.”

Jefferson from MemeGenerator.com

Thomas Jefferson wrote a lot, but recorded almost all of it. Easy to check whether Jefferson actually said what is attributed to him — but too often, not even a rudimentary check is done.  Jefferson didn’t say this, by the way.  Image from MemeGenerator.com

Thomas Jefferson is one of a handful of people to whom made up quotes are regularly attributed. Abraham Lincoln is a popular misattributee, too, as are Mark Twain and Albert Einstein (no, Einstein never said anything about ‘compound interest being the best invention of the 20th century’). One would be wise to refrain from repeating anything any speaker attributes to these people, at least until one checks it out to be sure it is accurately attributed.

Two circumstances make for “honest” misattributions. I confuse Dorothy Parker and Gertrude Stein comments, inexplicably, so often that I have learned to consult the books before saying who said it, if either one springs to my mind. I am sure that more than once in speaking I have misattributed something to one of these ladies, and I know other speakers do it, too. The second circumstance is when someone hears that misattribution and repeats it — the old line about some one “who hates dogs and children can’t be all bad” is often still attributed to W. C. Fields, though it was originally said by Leo Rosten, in an introduction for W. C. Fields, according to Rosten. Generally people will cheerfully correct such misattributions.

Lincoln's name gets attached to a lot of stuff he didn't say. He didn't say this, for example.

Lincoln’s name gets attached to a lot of stuff he didn’t say. He didn’t say this, for example.

Other misattributions have more larceny at heart. Novice speakers will put a quote to a name, more out of fear that their audience will believe them more if they cite an authority or celebrity than anything else.

Cottage industries built up around inventing misquotes plague two areas of public discourse. Ed Brayton is sensitive to them both, as am I. For some reason, advocates of government displays of religion (which are prohibited by 50 state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution) feel that “quotes” from “the Founders” should carry special legal and persuasive weight, if the quotes indicate that the people who established the United States thumped Bibles as hard or harder than Jerry Falwell at a rhythm-and-blues-themed revival.

For example, few weeks go by that I do not get by e-mail a diatribe against “secularism” that claims falsely that our nation’s founders were overweening Christian fundamentalists, as evidenced by the Christian images splattered all over Washington, D.C., and the Bible verses carved in all the public buildings. That is patently false, however. Christian imagery does not predominate in the public art displays in the nation’s capital, but is instead difficult to find unless one is really looking for it. Nor are Bible verses carved in many public buildings — there are perhaps a dozen verses sprinkled throughout the displays honoring knowledge at the Library of Congress, but none I know of anywhere else. These e-mails are not really new. I had heard these claims in speeches, especially at the Fourth of July and at American Legion speech contests, and when I staffed for U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, my office was bombarded with such offerings — often with an invective-filled letter asking why public officials refuse to speak the truth. I often took those documents out on lunch-hour excursions to try to match the claims with the monuments: The claims are false.

Nope, Albert Einstein didn't say that, either.

Nope, Albert Einstein didn’t say that, either.

Claims continue to be made, and they grow in number and earnestness whenever there is a controversy surrounding an issue of separation of church and state. No, James Madison never said the U.S. government was based on the Ten Commandments. These quotes have great vitality — that false quote from Madison has been uttered by more than one lawyer in the heat of an argument (and no doubt, at least one judge has been unduly swayed by it). Were the quotes accurate, even, they would not change the laws that the founders wrote.

Diatribes against Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution also appear to be fertile soil to grow false quotes. One hoax claims Darwin repented of his theory on his deathbed, the “Lady Hope” hoax. Despite Darwin’s children having refuted that story more than 80 years ago, it continues to circulate. Darwin wrote a lot on a variety of different topics, but almost never about religion. The one or two lines he did write about religion are repeated, and bent, numerous ways. Darwin’s assigned task on his round-the-world voyage, was to assemble the scientific data to back as accurate one of the accounts of creation in Genesis. The evidence Darwin gathered told a different story — but Darwin himself did not think that a good reason to leave the church where he had hoped to be ordained. Especially because his wife, Emma, was so devout, he was careful to avoid any confrontation with the church, and on the rolls he remained a faithful Anglican to his death. His funeral was a state occasion, and he is interred in Westminster Abbey. (We can debate whether Darwin was a “good Christian” some other time, with real evidence.) Building on his earlier belief that observing nature is one way to learn the ways of God, Darwin continued to spend his time in careful, astute and well-recorded observation. His work on the creation of coral atolls is still fundamental; his monographs on barnacles are still wonderful reads. Darwin was fascinated with insectivorous plants, and his monograph on those plants is among the first, if not the first. Darwin was patient enough to sit in his laboratory for weeks to see just how it is that vine twines its way around a pole. Darwin was the model of a truly patient scientist.

However, when any board of education starts to look at new biology books, you may expect to hear Darwin described as something of an anti-Christian monster and a terrible, sloppy, often-wrong scientist. Then to top it off, people will make rather fantastic claims that his own writings deny his case. Other testimony will make hash of the work of other scientists.

Ann Coulter manages to marry both of these worst kind of quote fabrications in her latest book (no, I won’t link to it — you shouldn’t be reading that stuff; go read Stephen Ambrose’s books on D-Day, or Lewis and Clark, instead, and get real mental nutrition.) For those of us who have been watching such things for decades, it is astounding that such slipshod work can get through an editing process and into print. It is interesting to see someone finally merge both schools of scandalous quoting, but disgusting at the same time.

As a speech writer, I felt it was important that my clients have accurate material. A politician using a bad quote can find himself quite embarrassed. As a journalist, I worked hard to assure accuracy, and we had regular processes for correcting errors we did not catch earlier. As a teacher, I think it important that we get accurate facts to determine what happened in history.

Quotations from famous people make the study of history possible, and fun. Winston Churchill said, “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more” (in his 1930 book, Roving Commission: My Early Life).

Be sure you get accurate quotes when you read them.

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