Tuesday, June 5, 2012

George Washington said . . . . [!?*]

Yes, the internet is a blessing and a curse. A wealth of information can be easily gained and also very easily abused. Proof-texting is bad enough, but sometimes there is outright fraud.

When I first checked Facebook this morning, I was disturbed by one of those little, captioned posters with George Washington supposedly saying:
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.
"That can't be right!" I thought. And with just a few clicks on the computer I found someone debunking the quote. Still not good enough for me, I went to the source he cited. Fortunately, I have the Library of America edition of  George Washington: Writings (1987). I skimmed to the date at page 749, and sure enough, from Washington's First Annual Address to Congress, January 8, 1790 (proto-SOTU), I found the actual quote:
"A free people ought not only be armed but disciplined; to which end, a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies."
I even made a few more clicks to see if I could find a web link with the correct text. Not only that, I came up with his actual handwriting, at least according to Wikipedia and they at least cite to the Library of Congress:

That sounds more like George. What with putting down the Whiskey Rebellion and all, that first quote just didn't ring true. I don't blame my Facebook friend who would never deliberately make stuff up like that, but someone did.

So, feel free to express any views you wish. But when you pass something along putting words in the mouth of our Founders, try a little checking of sources first. We wouldn't want to accidentally start a Whiskey Rebellion.

* (POTUS 1 didn't really say what's in the picture at top. My good buddy at The Liberty Tree made it at my request.)

January 16, 2013
As this has surprisingly become my most-viewed page of all time - apparently because Google and other search engines have placed it near the top of their results for the erroneous G. Washington quote, I thought I would add links here to some of my our other postings on guns:

Guns don't kill people. They just make it a lot easier.
Spoons don't make you fat.
My open letter to the NRA.
NRA solution to traffic fatalities.
Sandy Hook, Connecticut - our kids.
The President's worst day.
Taft, CA - School teacher hero.
The soul of America.
God, Guns & Goofiness
Guns & God - Less Goofiness
Violent Reality vs. Imaginary Hitler

Addendum No. 2
February 1, 2013
For a debunking of a false Thomas Jefferson quote, see here.


  1. I love the opening picture and quote. SO true in this day and age.

    Slightly off topic, but it reminds me of an experience in Seminary many years ago. An anti-Mormon activist was passing out pamphlets outside the building (Utah County, released time) that showed Biblical verses and how Joseph Smith translated them in the JST. The only problem was that the first and last few were verbatim (and quite tame), while the ones in the middle were fabricated and inflammatory. When our Seminary teacher called him on it, in front of me, he said, essentially, "It's OK to do or say anything that will save your souls from this evil cult, regardless of whether or not it's true."

    I've never heard an LDS leader or member advocate truly "lying for the Lord" - but I heard it loud and clear that day from that man.

  2. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

    "Not everything you read on the Internet is true." - Abraham Lincoln

  3. Or this:

    "I didn't lie to Congress when I said I've never used Human Growth Hormones." - William Howard Taft

  4. You guys crack me up. How 'bout these:

    "Ask not what the internet can do for you, but ask what you can make up on the internet." -John F. Kennedy

    "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Firewall!" -Ronald Reagan

    "We have nothing to fear, but being misquoted on the internet." -Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

  5. And one more:

    "I hear there's rumors on the, uh, Internets" -George W. Bush

    Oh, wait. I think that one's real.

  6. Anonymous M. You guys are on a streak. What are you trying to do? Be funnier than Middle-aged Mormon Man? My favorites are "Not everything you hear on the Internet is true" and "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Firewall."

  7. "We are the internet we've been waiting for" -Barack Obama

  8. My favorite quote was by Mark Twain when he said "The more people I meet, the better I like my DOG!"

    1. That reminds me of a Winston Churchill quote that was in HBO's "The Gathering Storm" (2002) about a pig being man's best friend. A cat looks down on you. A dog looks up to you. But a pig treats you like an equal.

      Good movie! Parents, children, all human beings, and pigs strongly cautioned because the opening scene is the naked rear of Albert Finney, playing Winston, getting out of bed in the morning. I have heard that Winston slept in the nude and sometimes painted in the nude, but don't quote me on that. He did beat the Nazis, though, so that's a good thing.


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