Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A sucker born every minute

Another quick hit. If you head over to E-bay right now and have $495 you can part with, you can buy this handsome portrait of James Madison, complete with his signature and containing this quote:

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon
the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to The TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD"

Just one problem. James Madison never said that:

In 1993, the curators of the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia were asked if they could verify the quote. They replied that they could not. Wrote Curators John Stagg and David Mattern, "We did not find anything in our files remotely like the sentiment expressed in the extract you sent us. In addition, the idea is inconsistent with everything we know about Madison's views on religion and government, views which he expressed time and time again in public and in private."

H/T: Positive Liberty.