Speaking in Greenville, South Carolina last week, Rand Paul said, "Patrick Henry said this, Patrick Henry said the Constitution is about restraining the government not the people."
Paul was summarizing this quote, often attributed to Henry:
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
The problem is the quote appears to be fake, according to Baylor professor Thomas Kidd, author of Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots:
Another widely cited "Henry" quotation is: "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." This is a more complex misquotation, because it sounds like something Henry might have said -- maybe during the 1790s, after he opposed the Constitution's adoption, when he was hoping to restrict the new government's powers? The problem is that this quotation seems to have been entirely fabricated, and quite recently at that. The earliest reference I have found to this quotation is in two books published in 2003. But why create a bogus quotation when Henry actually said similar things about the need to restrain government? In any case, this is also frequently cited on social media sites and in political books. On Facebook the quotation has its own "common interest" page.
Paul has used the fake Patrick Henry quote before, in a speech on the Senate floor. He previously used a fake Jefferson quote in his Senate victory speech (can be seen at the end):
Here's the full speech:
Megan Apper is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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