You might want to sit down for this one lest you fall over from the shock. Failed former far right member of Congress Allen West uses a bunch of fake quotes from the Founding Fathers in his new book. Well, his ghostwriter did anyway. The book is called Guardian of the Republic, which of course is him, even if he knows so little about the thing he pretends to be protecting.
“Thomas Jefferson said it first: ‘A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it away,’” West writes.
The quotation doesn’t appear in Jefferson’s writings, according to researchers at the Charlottesville, Va.-based Thomas Jefferson Foundation. But variations of it have appeared on coffee mugs and T-shirts with Jefferson’s name and have ricocheted around the Internet enough that the foundation included it in a “Spurious Quotations” list of popular sayings misattributed to the Declaration of Independence drafter and third president.
Three other Jefferson quotes in West’s book also appear on the foundation’s list of debunked Jeffersonisms.
Asked this week to provide sources for the Jefferson quotes and some others in the book, West co-author Michele Hickford declined comment and a spokeswoman for Crown Publishing did not respond. West, who is touring to promote the book, could not be reached…
West’s book quotes Lincoln as saying: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
The quote has appeared on bumper stickers and was attributed to Lincoln in the trailer for the 2013 movie “White House Down.” But it didn’t come from Lincoln, says James Cornelius, the curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill…West’s book quotes Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th century French observer of America, as saying democracy “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 collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”
Tocqueville did see danger in big government, but the quote in West’s book “certainly” is spurious, said Harvard historian Harvey Mansfield, who translated a 2000 edition of Tocqueville’s seminal “Democracy In America.”
A quote attributed to Patrick Henry in West’s book didn’t come from the 18th century Virginian’s writings or speeches, said Henry biographer Thomas Kidd.
West quotes Henry as saying: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”
Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas, said the quote appears to be of relatively recent vintage and has taken on a life of its own on the Internet.
“The thing that’s strange about that quote to me is it actually sounds like something that Henry might have said…I find it puzzling that it keeps getting used. You can find similar things that Henry has said that are actual quotes,” Kidd said.
It’s the one from Patrick Henry that is the most absurd, for one obvious reason: Henry was an opponent of the passage of the Constitution. He was invited to take part in the Constitutional Convention but he declined, then worked diligently to prevent it from passing. If you’ve taken even a basic U.S. history course, you should know that was a fake quote. Maybe instead of writing a book about his “warrior code,” West should have been reading some actual history.