Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikiquote: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 – 4 July 1826) was the third president of the United States (1801–1809), author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), a political philosopher, and one of the most influential founders of the United States.
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
. Historian Howard Zinn said this in an interview with TomPaine.com in July 2002. It has been widely misattributed to Thomas Jefferson. The interview can be found here: http://www.tompaine.com/Archive/scontent/5908.html. The quote can be found in the first sentence of Mr. Zinn’s first answer. (Nowhere in that article does Howard Zinn attribute that quote to Jefferson.)
. Law professor Jim Lindgren of The Volokh Conspiracy has traced the possible origin of this saying back as far as the 11 November 1984 obituary of pacifist activist Dorothy Hewitt Hutchinson in the Philadelphia Inquirer, quoting a 1965 interview. The direct quote there is: “Dissent from public policy can be the highest form of patriotism,” she said in an interview in 1965. “I don’t think democracy can survive without it, even though you may be crucified by it at times.” According to the professor’s research, the misattribution was popularized in the 1990’s by ACLU president Nadine Strossen. Bill Mullins of the American Dialect Society did further research.
Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but to date we have found no evidence that he said or wrote this. Its true origins are uncertain, but the saying may have entered popular culture during the Vietnam era.
The earliest usage of the phrase we have found is in a 1961 publication, The Use of Force in International Affairs: “If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, is dissent the highest form of patriotism?”
The phrase was used repeatedly during the Vietnam era, and this may be when it came into general currency. On October 15, 1969, in a speech at Columbia University, Mayor John Lindsay of New York City stated, “We cannot rest content with the charge from Washington that this peaceful protest is unpatriotic...The fact is that this dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
27 January 1909, Iowa City (A) Citizen, pg. 3, col. 3:
To die in defense of one’s country has been called an expression of the highest form of patriotism,...
16 November 1925, Zanesville (OH) Citizen, “Constructive Criticism,” pg. 6:
But many times the highest form of civic patriotism lies in criticising your town for all you are worth.
16 September 1939, Dunkirk (NY) Evening Observer, “Fullest Debate Needed,” pg. 6, col. 1:
Each must present a point of view, present it fully, and let public opinion crystallize one way or another. Opposition to an administrative policy must never be branded as a lack of patriotism. It may indeed be the very highest form of patriotism.
Let there be no curtailment of free speech and free debate until that last desperate moment when our nation, in war, might be weakened by a lack of unity. But even then, we feel, there is little excuse for the extremes of suppression.
Motion of Confidence in His Majesty’s Government.
House of Commons debates, 28 January 1942
Colonel Victor Cazalet (Chippenham)
It is always a nice point whether criticism of the Government, especially in time of war, is the highest form of patriotism or the basest form of treachery. Several speakers during this Debate have taken both points of view. I remember that when the Government were criticised at the time of the Norwegian crisis it was then considered to be the highest form of patriotism to criticise the Government; in fact, it put the present Prime Minister in his position, for which we are all devoutly grateful. My only regret is that the Prime Minister cannot on certain occasions, perhaps once in every six months, step down from the Front Bench to his old place and give us one of those critical and of course constructive surveys to which we were accustomed to listen for 10 years before war started.
Winston Churchill, 1874-1951
By Charlie Lewis Broad
New York, NY: Philosophical Library
Major Cazalet found it a nice point whether criticism of the Government in time of war was the highest form of patriotism or the basest form of treachery.
The Use of Force in International Affairs
By Friends Peace Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.). Working Party on the Use of Force in International Affairs
Philadelphia, PA: Friends Peace Committee
If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, is dissent the highest form of patriotism?
Google News Archive
14 July 1966, Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, “Hatfield and Steinbeck’s ‘Half a War,’” pg. 12A, col. 1:
Indeed, intelligent, responsible dissent can represent the highest form of patriotism. But this is not to say that all dissent is high-minded and admirable.
22 November 1966, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “Right of Criticism,” pg. 10, cols. 1-2:
The necessity for dissent, for the free clash of ideas in a free society, is stated by Sen. J. William Fullbright in the November issue of Redbook.
Events may prove that the criticism was good or bad. No matter, as long as it is permitted as one of the fundamental attributes of a free society.
Fulbright put it this way in his conclusion: “Criticism is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism—a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals of national adulation. All of us have the responsibility to act upon this higher patriotism, which is to love our country less for what it is than for what we would like it to be.”
11 May 1967, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, “No Harm in War Dissent” by Michael Marien, pg. 38:
And so there has been and will continue to be dissent which, when made responsibly, may well be the highest form of patriotism in a democracy.
Google News Archive
20 November 1967, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), “Gadabout’s Diary” by Sheilah Graham, pg. 2B, col. 4:
Tony Randall, who goes to Vietnam early in January to visit the GIs again, told me that although he has not changed his attitude about the “senseless war” as he calls it, he is not for the burning of draft cards. “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. But it should be legal. Be a conscientious objector if you don’t want to be drafted.”
16 October 1969, New York (NY) Times, “Bells Toll and Crosses Are Planted Around U.S. as Students Say
‘Enough!’ to War” By Bernard Weinraub, pg. 19:
“The fact is that this dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
(New York City Mayor John Lindsay—ed.)
7 November 1984, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, Dorothy Hewitt Hutchinson (obituary), pg. D10:
“Dissent from public policy can be the highest form of patriotism,” she said in an interview in 1965. “I don’t think democracy can survive without it, even though you may be crucified by it at times.”
2 June 1991, Boston (MA) Globe, “A new ACLU head and an old threat,” pg. 71:
“And I do think that what Thomas Jefferson said is true, ‘Dissent is thehighest form of patriotism.’”
(Nadine Strosser of the ACLU—ed.)
Jewish World Review
May 1, 2006 / 3 Iyar, 5766
America’s hardboiled newsmen can’t get enough of the Thomas Jefferbunk
By Mark Steyn
“This is not the first time in American history when patriotism has been distorted to deflect criticism and mislead the nation,” warned Sen. Kerry, placing his courage in the broader historical context. “No wonder Thomas Jefferson himself said: ‘Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.’ “
Close enough. According to the Jefferson Library: “There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: ‘Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.’ “
As far as I can tell, it was Nadine Strosser, the ACLU’s head honcho, who cooked up the Jefferson fake. At any rate, she seems to be the only one who ever deployed it pre-9/11. Since then, however, it’s gone nuclear, it’s everywhere, it’s a bumper sticker and a T-shirt slogan and a surefire applause line for the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 22, 2009 • Permalink