FACT CHECK: Did George Washington Say, ‘Firearms Stand Next In Importance To The Constitution Itself’?

Aislinn Murphy | Assistant Managing Editor

A Facebook post claims that former President George Washington once said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.”

The alleged quote continues, “They are the American people’s liberty teeth an [sic] keystone under independence.”

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller found no evidence that Washington ever made this statement.

Fact Check:

Social media users often credit the founding fathers with penning quotes, though the sayings are not always authentic. (RELATED: Did Thomas Jefferson Say, ‘Information Is The Currency Of Democracy’?)

Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon has encountered so many quotes falsely attributed to Washington over the years that it keeps a list of “spurious quotations.” The specific statement about the importance of firearms appears on that list.

“This quotation does not show up in any of Washington’s writings, nor does any closely related quote,” writes his Mount Vernon estate.

Indeed, the Caller searched his writings, as well as his recorded speeches, yet found no matching or similar expressions anywhere.

Quote Investigator, a website that traces the origins of quotations, credits C. S. Wheatley with writing the statement about firearms. The earliest instance of the quote occurs in a 1926 opinion piece Wheatley wrote for an outdoors magazine, where it appears in close proximity to a reference to an address made by Washington.

“The passage was composed by C. S. Wheatley and not by George Washington,” writes Quote Investigator. “Unfortunately, the text was misread, and the words were incorrectly attributed to Washington. The faulty ascription was widely propagated in newspapers by the 1970s and 1980s.”

Aislinn Murphy

Assistant Managing Editor