"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" (Jefferson? Paine?)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Mon May 1 21:48:27 UTC 2006

Steyn's column:


"XXX is the highest form of patriotism" can be found from before the War
Between the States. If XXX = (something like dissent, such as treason,
disobedience of orders, etc.), then it is common throughout the 20th

"Constructive Criticism" [unsigned editorial] Ohio | Zanesville |
Zanesville Signal, The | 1925-11-16 p. 6
"But many times the highest form of civic patriotism lies in criticising
your town for all you are worth. "

Wesley Clark attributed the "quote" to Jefferson often as he stumped for
president in the 2004 election.

Nadine Strosser of the ACLU seems to be the first to publicly attribute
the quote to Jefferson:

"A new ACLU head and an old threat" _The Boston Globe_, June 2, 1991,
SECTION: FOCUS; Pg. 71 [Lexis-Nexis]
"And I do think that what Thomas Jefferson said is true, "Dissent is the
highest form of patriotism." "

The earliest XXX = "dissent" I can find is in a letter to the editor:
"No Harm in War Dissent" Michael Marien New York | Syracuse | Syracuse
Herald Journal | 1967-05-11 p. 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."

The next example I can find is, oddly enough, from the actor Tony
"Hollywood Everywhere" [syndicated column] Sheilah Graham North Carolina
Burlington | Daily Times-news, The | 1967-11-24 p. 6-B
"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." "

The earliest I've found by a politician:
"Bells Toll and Crosses Are Planted Around U.S. as Students Say
'Enough!' to War" By BERNARD WEINRAUB
New York Times; Oct 16, 1969; pg. 19
[New York Mayor John Lindsay speaking:] "The fact is that this dissent
is the highest form of patriotism."

Some secondary source antedating:

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) November 7, 1984 p. 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." "

[Her papers are at Swarthmore; maybe they could provide a reference to
this interview].

> Who said "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism"?
> ...
> Mark Steyn makes a whole column out of it in today's New York Sun.
> ...
> I'm at work right now and need help before I post on this.
> ...
> It looks as if Steyn didn't query any Fred Shapiro-types.

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