FACT CHECK: Did Thomas Jefferson Say, ‘The Government Will One Day Be Filled With Liars And The People Will Flock To The One Who Tells The Truth’?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “The government will one day be corrupt and filled with liars, and the people will flock to the one that tells the truth.”

Verdict: False

Jefferson’s estate at Monticello labels it a “spurious quotation.” It has been attributed to Jefferson since at least 2015.

Fact Check:

Thomas Jefferson, a founding father and later the third president, has frequently been credited with quotes on governance. (RELATED: Did Thomas Jefferson Say,’Freedom Is Lost Gradually From An Uninterested, Uninformed, And Unresponsive People?’)

However, the Daily Caller found no evidence that the statement originated with Jefferson. A search of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson yielded no results. The quote doesn’t appear anywhere in a collection of his quotes and letters either.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which maintains his estate at Monticello, includes the quote on its running list of “spurious quotations.”

“It seems to exist mainly on Twitter,” writes research librarian Anna Berkes on the Monticello website. “But we have been unable to trace its existence before 2015.”

Indeed, the Caller traced the quote back to the same year. The earliest known instance of the saying being attributed to Jefferson appears in an October 2015 tweet from user Ziad K. Abdelnour, though there may be prior occurrences.

It’s unclear whether this Twitter user originated the quote or simply perpetuated an already circulating one.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
Follow Elias on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].