Jefferson on the Wisdom of the People


As one of America’s foremost scholars of Imaginary History, I am compelled to correct the record on Sarah Palin’s slightly erroneous fictional Jefferson misquote (Americablog). What Imaginary History tells us Jefferson in fact said is, “One cannot underestimate the wisdom of the people.

Fantastohistorical academia is riven over the issue of whether this was intended by Mr. Jefferson as an observation or an admonishment.

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0 responses to “Jefferson on the Wisdom of the People”

  1. Mark,
    The page you linked also showed this Jefferson quote, which is closer to Palin’s paraphrase:

    “I am satisfied the good sense of the people is the strongest army our government can ever have, and that it will not fail them.” -Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, 1786. ME 6:31 (Source: http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/…)
    This seems to clear up your doubt about his intent. He doesn’t seem to be the elitest you’d like him to be.

  2. Palin’s quote is nowhere near a paraphrase of that (waaayyyy out-of-context) quote.

    I don’t know if he was the elitest, but he was pretty darn elite — large landowner, educated man, lawyer, inventor, diplomat world traveler — and a Philadelphia insider.

    If he’d trusted fully the wisdom of the people, he could have dispensed with two branches of the government and one house of the legislature and left us to be governed by our elected Representatives as they saw fit.

  3. I believe the (only partially fake) presidential quote she was referring to here is “Never misunderestimate the wisdom of the people”…

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