Government big enough to supply you...(Quotation)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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The following statement, or variations thereof, is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson:

"A government big enough to supply you with everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have...."

We have never found such a statement in Jefferson's writings. As far as we know, this statement actually originates with Gerald R. Ford, who said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have," in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974.[1]

This quotation is sometimes followed by, "The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases," which is most likely a misquotation of Jefferson's comment, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yeild, and government to gain ground."

Footnotes

  1. Suzy Platt, ed., Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989), 140. Available online at http://www.bartleby.com/73/714.html.

Further Sources