Search the Site

Quotes Uncovered: Who Wanted the Least Government?

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

Ten weeks ago, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Scores of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a couple per week.
James asked:

I’d like to know who originally said, “That government is best which governs least.” When trying to find the origin, I’ve run across John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. Who actually said this?

John L. O’Sullivan, the journalist and diplomat who also coined the phrase “manifest destiny,” is quoted by The Yale Book of Quotations as writing “The best government is that which governs least” in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, October 1, 1837. Earlier, Jonathan Shipley wrote in 1773 that “The true art of government consist in not governing too much.”
fretal asked:

I would love to know the original source of this one: “A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.” I’ve seen it attributed most often to Paul Erdös or Alfred Renyi, [and] occasionally to other famous mathematicians/scientists.

The Yale Book of Quotations has the following:

“A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.” Paul Erdös, Quoted in Atlantic, November 1987. Sometimes credited to other mathematicians before Erdös, such as Paul Turan or Alfred Renyi.

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?