Bush Changes Thomas Jefferson's Speech At July 4 Celebration

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President Bush was at Monticello for a 4th of July celebration and he delivered an address. But it's quite telling that his speechwriters, in quoting Jefferson, cut out an anti-religious statement from a long and famous quote. Here's the way Bush put it:

Thomas Jefferson understood that these rights do not belong to Americans alone. They belong to all mankind. And he looked to the day when all people could secure them. On the 50th anniversary of America's independence, Thomas Jefferson passed away. But before leaving this world, he explained that the principles of the Declaration of Independence were universal. In one of the final letters of his life, he wrote, "May it be to the world, what I believe it will be -- to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all -- the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

Now let's look at the full quote, including the part that was cut out...

This is from a letter he wrote to Roger Weightman reflecting on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (which, it turns out, was the day both he and John Adams died):

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

Jefferson made many such statements, of course. Clearly they are best edited out by those who advocate nothing if not monkish ignorance and superstition.


BS Alert! BS Alert!
Posted by Foster Foskin on 2008-07-07 09:23:22
Why are you surprised by yet another blatant attempt by Bush to change the world to his view? Thanks to you buyers and others like you for pointing out his bullshit. Keep hitting at him. Don't let him get away with any of his bullshit!!! And don't let him get away with any more attacks on our freedoms.
Posted by leo on 2008-07-07 10:09:49
Funyn Stuff
Posted by JIm Jones on 2008-07-07 12:21:22
LOL, sounds like something his little sidekick McBush would do, then he'd also take credit for the original speech! LOL
Posted by orcspit on 2008-07-07 12:46:18
We the people are getting fleeced!
Posted by Stupid on 2008-07-07 13:47:11
"monkish ignorance and superstition" is not anti-religious sentiment, it is anti-Catholic. There is no "fleecing" here, Bush's writers simply eliminated irrelevant parts of the speech. Bush is screwed up, but if you're gonna get on his case, at least do it intelligently.
Stupid? NOT!
Posted by Emmanuel Goldstein on 2008-07-07 14:04:50
"but if you're gonna get on his case, at least do it intelligently."


If you are going to make a famous quote, don't cherry-pick what words you want, and leave the rest behind - otherwise, it's not a quote, it is a lie.
Posted by Jello_Breath on 2008-07-07 14:16:00
Bring Us Your Poor Huddles Masses,
Let's Club Them To Death,
And Get It Over With.
Posted by BrakTalk on 2008-07-07 14:49:18
"monkish ignorance and superstition".

Not sure how this is a definition of religion. I'm far from being a supporter of Bush (nor am I religious) but it's quite a stretch to definitively state that Bush and/or his speechwriters were avoiding references to religion here for self-serving purposes. There's nothing definitive here that indicates he [Jefferson] was referring to religion. "monkish" can also mean "self-denial". "self-denial" may be in some eyes, synonymous with religion or what's wrong with religion...but that's merely an opinion, not definitive.
Posted by hatekillpuke on 2008-07-07 15:21:51
It looks more like BrakTalk is stretching to make it not be about religion. Jefferson was famously critical of religion, that people would get so caught up in the dogmatic aspects of it (see: the Jefferson Bible), so it's really no stretch at all to think he's talking about religion here.
Posted by Jesse on 2008-07-07 15:35:49
"If you are going to make a famous quote, don't cherry-pick what words you want, and leave the rest behind - otherwise, it's not a quote, it is a lie."


Actually, "quoting" is the process of taking the words you want and leaving the rest. I am sure that the letter contained more than what was cited by President Bush (and this article). Both parties removed the words that they did not want.

Now quoting in such a fashion as to obscure, or change, the meaning of the words is oft referred to as "misquoting" which may be what President Bush's speechwriters have done. In any case, that is worth discussing.

I would argue that the meaning of the passage has not changed by President Bush's omission of the source of said "chains", but that is another topic.
Not quite...
Posted by BrakTalk on 2008-07-07 16:50:47
My intention was to suggest that it was a stretch to assume that the omission of these words were demonstrative of Bush/speechwriters to be self-serving. Especially since "monkish" doesn't necessarily mean "religious".
Posted by BrakTalk on 2008-07-07 17:15:09
...after reading this analysis (and subsequent comments), I am differently persuaded.


Although I still find not-so-obvious to equate "monkish" with "religion" because an alternate meaning of the word is indeed "non-religious", I am open to the fact that I am not as well informed of Jefferson's views as others may be (i.e. the author of this particular blog entry at BSALERT and/or the blogger at LanguageLog)and therefore, ignorant of these indicators that may rightfully inform these speculations.

To the average listener, "monkish" may very well mean or suggest "religious/religion" and if the speechwriter thought that the average listener would be inclined to do so, it's reasonable to speculate that the omission makes it less controversial for the listener on the "first pass". That alone suggests intent to mislead or to avoid "messiness" since, due to the well chronicled f'ups executed by this administration while it was thumping King James, it doesn't take much effort to conceive of the irony.
Why not just look it up
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-07-07 19:44:20
Libs and rationalists do it too
Posted by Wonder Wai on 2008-07-07 21:41:06
If you're going to knock Bush for excluding part of a found father's document, go ahead and look at all the other papers and documents the founding fathers have written and see how much they've been taken out of context by the 'other side'. See, the problem is that folks are playing sides instead of realizing that truly we will go NOWHERE unless we work together and do what's best for the PEOPLE instead of a PARTY.
President GW Bush scorned by scared tyrants - let the blind see
Posted by P. Shahir on 2008-07-08 20:46:12
Thanks for reminding of Thomas Jeffersen - quite a dynamic thinker, so much in accordance to my thoughts in so many ways.
I still feel that these last months if President G.W. Bush's administration should be devoted to uncovering the dung in other hypocricies such as certain corrupt multinationals and oil concerns who still fund contempt against the USA and Humanity - ( and among them are abucive clergy as the occupiers of Iran and also in certain Arab countries .....
I wish to underline that I am totally non political. I am mostly interested in principles of governance and International law. I try my best to keep at long distance from futile divisions that divide good people. ( and thus away from party political conflict and extremes )
IT may seem obvious that for such a public event, certain religious groups may have felt offended - and yet, those truths about the abuse of religion, are exemplified and throughout the Holy Bible.
I have prayed and wished for the best for USA and good friends during Independence Day, and am glad that no feelings were hurt, and good people could pause, think and appreciate.
I thank for the reminder of Thomas Jeffersen.
I have so much to learn from US history, and appreciate every time someone points out something I could learn from the history that went into the making of the USA, and still continues ......
May the Spiritual 'Force' be with you all, and God Bless :)
Quit your whining!
Posted by JonnySax on 2008-07-11 09:01:48
Wow... You all are getting desperate! Talking about Revolting and not letting him "get away with any of his bullshit!!!" LOL. Don't make me laugh! What ever happened to getting real dirt on people? Like Sex scandals and corruption! Talk about pissing off the founding fathers! The fathers are rolling over in their graves with the political BS this country has been spitting out over the last 60 years! So, stop you whining about Bush and do something productive! I mean come on people! We have two assholes running for president! Things are only gonna get worse from here. Bush will be the least of our problems.

Bottom line: Stop your whining! Respect your president! Vote Independent! After all, Its what our founding father would have wanted.
Posted by Pile on 2008-07-13 01:29:37
This isn't a minor faux pas. Bush fundamentally reversed the meaning of an important quote from one of our founding fathers. It's profoundly disrespectful and dishonest, and it was undoubtedly intentional.
A load of Manure
Posted by turk_182 on 2008-07-23 01:01:40
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it natural manure."
Thomas Jefferson
The man knew his shit george don't know shinola


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