8 quotes that probably will be edited out of later editions of Allen West’s new bookby George Bennett | April 4th, 2014
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West‘s new book is brimming with quotations from famous figures on the virtues of small government, the need for the Second Amendment, the importance of honoring veterans and the perils of redistributing wealth.
Several of the quotes in Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom are familiar — but have been flagged by historians as erroneous.
West joins President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain in being duped by one George Washington quote that is widely circulated but, according to historians, wasn’t said by America’s first president.
Four quotes that West attributes to Thomas Jefferson have been branded “spurious” by researchers at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. West’s book also attributes words to Abraham Lincoln, Alexis de Tocqueville and Patrick Henry that have been debunked by historians.
See the bogus quotes after the jump…
Some famous, but fake, quotations in Allen West’s new book:
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
– attributed to George Washington on page 92 of West’s book.
Obama used this quote in speeches when he was a senator in 2005 and McCain used it on the campaign trail in 2008. Washington research historian Martha V. Thompson and others have identified it as spurious.
The trailer for the 2013 movie White House Down features this quote and attributes it to Lincoln. But the quote is “not an accurate one,” says James Cornelius, the curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. Lincoln did express a similar sentiment, with substantially different wording, in an 1838 speech.
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” — attributed to Patrick Henry on page 77 of West’s book.
Henry biographer Thomas Kidd, a Baylor University history professor, says the quote is bogus. “I find it puzzling that it keeps getting used. You can find similar things that Henry has said that are actual quotes.”
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result being that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.” — attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville on pages 83-84 of West’s book.
“Certainly it’s a spurious quotation,” says Harvard historian Harvey Mansfield, who translated a 2000 edition of Tocqueville’s Democracy In America.
“Neither this quotation nor any of its variant forms has been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson,” says the Thomas Jefferson Foundation on its “Spurious Quotations” webpage. T-shirts and coffee mugs also attribute this quote to Jefferson.
“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is. Most bad government has grown out of too much government.” – attributed to Jefferson on page 77 of West’s book.
“This exact quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson,” says the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which says the quotation can be traced to John Sharp Williams, a Mississippi senator from 1911 to 1923 in a speech about Jefferson, “which has most likely been mistaken at some point for a direct quotation of 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.” – attributed to Jefferson, page 85 of West’s book.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation researchers say the quote doesn’t show up in any of Jefferson’s writings. The foundation adds: “It bears a very vague resemblance to Jefferson’s comment in a prospectus for his translation of Destutt de Tracy’s Treatise on Political Economy: ‘To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, —the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, & the fruits acquired by it.’”
“The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” – attributed to Jefferson, pages 88-89 of West’s book.
“This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson,” says the Thomas Jefferson Foundation “Spurious Quotations” collection; Jefferson did write, in a draft of the Virginia Constitution, that “No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements].”