Patrick Henry - The Constitution is NOT an instrument for the...
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.
Thomas S. Kidd, an associate professor at Baylor and author of Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, debunked this quote in a blog post on the Huffington Post:
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.