I do not know what motivates individuals to create fake quotes. Perhaps I should be thankful that I am unable to fathom the motivations of psychopaths. I don’t know if these are well-intentioned people who simply believe that they can promote good ideas through dishonest means or if these are evilly-intentioned people who hope to make fools of the people who believe these quotations are genuine.
There are tens of thousands of fake quotes being shared regularly on the Internet. Obviously one article cannot draw attention to all of these. However, we can focus on the fake quotes which are so popular that they have been made into quote graphics and spread widely through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Here are a few of the fake quotes which are most common in conservative circles. I couldn’t tell you what fake quotes are common in leftist circles, because I don’t go there.
“The militia is a voluntary force not associated or under the control of the States except when called out; a permanent or long standing force would be entirely different in make-up and call.” – Alexander Hamilton
This quote is often sourced to The Federalist Papers, but does not actually appear there.
“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” – Benjamin Franklin
There is no evidence Ben Franklin either said or wrote this.
“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” – Benjamin Franklin
There is no evidence that Ben Franklin ever actually said or wrote this.
“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” – George Washington
This quote starts with a legitimate excerpt from George Washington’s first annual address to congress and then edits his words to mean almost the opposite of his original intention. Here is the actual quotation: “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”
“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty teeth.” – George Washington.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” – George Washington
“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” – George Washington
There is no evidence George Washington ever wrote or said this. This quote appears to have been created after Washington’s death.
There is no evidence George Washington ever wrote or said this. In addition, it is not stated in the manner in which George Washington would use the English language.
“Take care not to mistake change for progress.” – Millard Fillmore.
The actual quote from Millard Fillmore is “It is not strange, however much it may be regretted, that such an exuberance of enterprise should cause some individuals to mistake change for progress and the invasion of the rights of others for national prowess and glory.” The editing completely destroys the meaning of the statement.
“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in the minds of men.” – Samuel Adams
This quote dates back only to 1990 and has also been misattributed to John Adams.
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Most bad government has grown out of too much government.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”- Thomas Jefferson
“When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
“The duty of a true patriot is to protect his country from its government.” – Thomas Paine
This is actually a slightly edited quote from Edward Abbey.
“The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” – Thomas Paine
There is no evidence Thomas Pain ever said or wrote this.
“One man with a gun can control 100 without one.” – Vladimir Lenin
There is no evidence Vladimir Lenin ever said or wrote this.
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” – Voltaire
This quote is actually from Kevin Alfred Strom, a neo-Nazi and convicted pedophile.