However, that is not what Monticello library documents. Monticello researched the following quote attributed to Jefferson:
Quotation: “Sir, no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as chief magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”Monticello consulted the existing body of Jefferson’s writings and other papers where his statements are recorded. The first recorded instance of this quote is in 1857 in the papers of Allen. Monticello’s assessed the quote as “questionable.”
Comments: This quotation appeared in a handwritten manuscript by the Reverend Ethan Allen (1796-1879). The story was related to Allen by a Mr. Ingle, who claimed to have been told a story that Jefferson was walking to church services one Sunday, “…with his large red prayer book under his arm when a friend querying him after their mutual good morning said which way are you walking Mr. Jefferson. To which he replied to Church Sir. You going to church Mr. J. You do not believe a word in it. Sir said Mr. J. No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir.”2The story comes to us third-hand, and has not been confirmed by any references in Jefferson’s papers or any other known sources. Its authenticity is questionable.So after claiming the scholarly high ground as someone who uses primary sources, Barton used a questionable quote which comes to us third-hand.
Friday, March 04, 2016
Throckmorton on Barton's use of Primary Sources
See here. A taste: