Tag Archives: Thomas+Jefferson

Lest we think media problems are new . . .

Here are a few items from previous centuries:

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.
Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”
— Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source: letter to John Norvell, June 11, 1807

“Newspapers have degenerated.
They may now be
absolutely relied upon.”
— Oscar Wilde

“The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines
is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.”
— Samuel Butler


The Wilde quote is ambiguous. “Relied upon” to lead us astray, apparently.


Jefferson on another wall

T. Jefferson quoted in other context than the old favorite in a letter about “wall of separation,” here warning about “domiciliary vexation” (!):

“At home, fellow citizens, you best know whether we have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These covering our land with officers, and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which, once entered, is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of produce and property.”

Unnecessary offices, eh?  Useless establishments and expenses, eh?  Covering our land with officers . . . opening our doors to their intrusions, eh? 

That, fellow citizens, is domiciliary vexation.  We must guard against it, eh?

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