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Steven Crowder Fake Quote

MYTH: "Well Regulated Militia" Only? (Second Amendment History) is a video by Steven Crowder. It has quotes from America's founding fathers to argue for his pro-gun-rights position (which I agree with). Crowder put up a webpage with his references which he links in the YouTube video description. The first quote on the page is:

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason

Crowder's source link is a category at a blog (not even a specific post). The relevant blog post says:

I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

George Mason, Speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

~ ~ Grouchy ~ ~

Great, we have a source. It's from a speech at a particular convention in a particular year. It's easy to find a short transcript of the speech (second version) online which doesn't have this quote. I wanted to know where the quote was coming from, and if it was perhaps from another statement not included in those sources. I looked further and found the full book covering the convention. It doesn't contain the quote. So, I'm confident the quote is a fraud.

I didn't check the other quotes Crowder used. This is one fake quote out of just one quote checked.

The full book does have some similar statements from Mason (my emphasis):

I ask, Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day.


An instance within the memory of some of this house will show us how our militia may be destroyed. Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man,* who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia. [Here Mr. Mason quoted sundry passages to this effect.] This was a most iniquitous project. Why should we not provide against the danger of having our militia, our real and natural strength, destroyed?

The fake quote is similar to two real quotes from the speech, but each part is changed. And, in the book, the two parts appear thousands of words apart, and in reverse order. So the fake quote is roughly representative of what Mason was saying, but it's not actually a quote.

Elliot Temple on May 18, 2018


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