Sometimes it seems an uphill battle, disabusing people of the notion that Jefferson is the source of every smart, catchy thing ever said. I was reassured this week to find out that I’m not alone in my efforts. An intrepid blogger became suspicious of a supposed Jefferson quote that has risen to the surface during the recent financial upheaval, and decided to do some hard-core investigation. By sheer chance, I had recently run this particular non-quotation down and given it the new-and-improved treatment on the TJ Encyclopedia. Said intrepid blogger found our article and said some very nice things to/about us in the Discussion area of the article and in his blog entry. I’m sure fellow sticklers everywhere can appreciate my euphoria at having my footnotes noticed and appreciated.
As for the (non)-quotation, to make a long weird story short: two-thirds of it are entirely fabricated, as far as I can tell, while the remaining third is possibly a clumsy paraphrase of something TJ did say. As with some spurious Jefferson quotes, a legitimate-sounding document is cited as a source, but turns out to be a red herring. What’s really interesting about this particular non-Jefferson-quotation, though, is that the earliest appearance I can find is right in the middle of another financial crisis – the Great Depression. Coincidence? Surely not. And this isn’t the first time I’ve tracked a fake TJ quotation’s origins to a social event that goes along with it.