FACT CHECK: Did Thomas Jefferson Say That Citizens Are ‘Obligated’ To Disobey Unjust Laws?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

The Facebook page Cold Dead Hands shared an image April 12 claiming that founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

Verdict: False

There is no record of Jefferson ever saying this, though it is widely misattributed to him. It’s unclear where the phrase originated.

Fact Check:

This quote has been attributed to Jefferson countless times, appearing in numerous memes shared online. However, The Daily Caller News Foundation found no evidence that Jefferson ever said or wrote this saying.

The phrase has been so frequently misattributed to Jefferson that it is included in the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s list of “spurious quotations.”

It’s unclear where or when the phrase first appeared, though the foundation noted two suggestions.

The quote may be a rough paraphrase of one line in the Declaration of Independence: “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

The phrase also resembles a 1963 quote from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in which he states, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Jefferson served two terms as the nation’s third president.

Follow Brad on Twitter

Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
Follow Brad on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Trending

FACT CHECK: Did Hillary Clinton Say, 'The Primary Role Of The State Is To Teach, Train, And Raise Children'?
'That’s Just Human Nature' - Did Dianne Feinstein Say This Quote About Gun Control?
FACT CHECK: Are More People Killed By ‘Hammers And Fists’ Than AR-15s?
FACT CHECK: No, This Quote About The 'Hottest Places In Hell' Does Not Appear In Dante's 'Inferno'