Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bush July 4 speech censors Jefferson

President George W. Bush gave a speech at Monticello on July 4 that said, quoting Jefferson:
On the 50th anniversary of Americas independence, Thomas Jefferson passed away. But before leaving this world, he explained that the principles of the Declaration of Independence were universal. In one of the final letters of his life, he wrote, May it be to the world, what I believe it will be to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.
Here's what Jefferson actually wrote:
May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.
As Wonkette aptly notes, "Yeah dude, looks like you forgot the good part." (Though Wonkette incorrectly attributes the Constitution to Jefferson along with the Declaration of Independence.)

(Thanks to Scott Peterson on the SKEPTIC list.)

UPDATE (July 16, 2008): Roger Kimball has responded to this issue, and Ed Brayton points out what he's gotten right and what he's gotten wrong about Jefferson's views on religion. (Contrary to Dawkins and Hitchens, Jefferson was no atheist, nor even a deist. He referred to himself as a Unitarian, and Brayton calls him a "theistic rationalist.")

1 comment:

Copernic said...

Hopefully anyone hearing Bush quote a great mind will think better than to take him at his word that he got the actual quote, if not the intent, right. If nothing else, it drove thousands to read Jefferson's original sayings.....never a bad thing