"information is the currency of democracy"

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 22 06:27:07 UTC 2010

Geoff asked:
> Or did Jefferson really say something like this?

A Jefferson enthusiast named Eyler Coates was asked about the
quotation. He doubted that it was in Jefferson's writings. But he
assembled a collection of quotations that he asserted were written by
Thomas Jefferson and "convey the same basic idea".

Each reader can judge similarity. I cannot vouch for this information.
Please directly verify these quotations before use.

Here is the weblink:

(Begin excerpt)
I have not run across that quotation in the Memorial Edition of
Jefferson's Writings (ME), and doubt that it was written by Jefferson,
since he did not, to my knowledge, speak of "currency" with reference
to money or anything else.  The popular use of the term "currency"
seems to have been of later occurrence.

Jefferson DID write several things that convey the same basic idea, however:

"The information of the people at large can alone make them the
safe as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious
freedom." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1810.  ME

[Additional quotations are given]

(Sorry about the multiple messages. I wanted to try to help, and my
computer access will be sharply limited for a while. Happy holidays

On Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 10:20 PM, geoffrey nunberg
<nunberg at ischool.berkeley.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       geoffrey nunberg <nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU>
> Subject:      "information is the currency of democracy"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In connection with a course we're  teaching, my colleague Paul Duguid asked me about a sentence in a recent Guardian commentary on Wikilieaks by Ralph Nader:
>> Wasn't it Jefferson who said that "information is the currency of democracy" and that, given a choice between government and a free press, he'll take the latter?
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/16/julian-assange-wikileaks-eric-holder
> That sentence is attributed to Jefferson all over the web, but the earliest cite Paul been able to find for it is from a 12/31/71 NYT op-ed called "The Underachievements of Congress" by... wait for it.... Ralph Nader, where it's not attributed: "If information is the currency of democracy, it is time to apply that principle to the sinews of citizenship involvement with their representatives in Congress."
> Is this, as we suspect, one of those quotations that grew an eminent early progenitor late in the game? Or did Jefferson really say something like this?
> Geoff
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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