FACT CHECK: Did Thomas Jefferson Say, ‘Nothing Can Stop The Man With The Right Mental Attitude From Achieving His Goal’?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Jefferson coined the expression. His estate at Monticello considers it a “spurious quotation.”

Fact Check:

Social media users erroneously ascribe quotes to Jefferson so often that his estate at Monticello keeps a running list of “spurious quotations.” A quick internet search revealed that the quote about attitude appears on that list(RELATED: Did Thomas Jefferson Say, ‘That Government Is Best Which Governs The Least’?)

The Daily Caller found no record of Jefferson ever saying or writing the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post. A search of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson did not yield any results, nor did a search of his collected letters and quotations.

“It is also frequently attributed to W. W. Ziege, and while Ziege did write an article that appeared in Rosicrucian Digest in December 1945, ‘The Magic Word,’ in which he essentially makes the same point, he did not use these exact words,” wrote Research Librarian Anna Berkes on the Monticello website. “No other writings of his in which this quotation may have appeared have yet been located.”

Indeed, the website Quote Investigator found a semantically-related statement in Ziege’s 1945 article, though elements of the expression also appeared earlier. In the Rosicrucian Digest, Ziege wrote, “Changing the mental attitude from the wrong to the right is all that people need to do to enjoy all that life has to offer.”

The quote about attitude has been attributed to Jefferson since at least 1988, according to Berkes.

Elias Atienza

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