As you know, here at the Papers of George Washington, as well as at Mount Vernon, we are dedicated to preserving Washington’s writings. What did he really say? By referring to his papers, we can often find the answers. Just last week, our editor-in-chief, Ed Lengel, was consulted by Columbian reporters on the veracity of the quote on the Bend veterans’ monument, located outside the Deschutes County Courthouse in Bend, Oregon. The monument reads:
The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.
According to Lengel, there is no evidence Washington ever said these words. What this means is that after reading thousands of Washington’s papers—many now searchable in the digital edition at Founders Online—these words have never appeared. Before quoting a figure such as Washington, researchers should always refer to the original documents when available; and researchers everywhere should know that in the case of Washington, these resources do indeed exist.
See the full article for Lengel’s comments on spurious Washington quotes and myths. We will also be starting a series of posts on quotations attributed to Washington, so stay tuned as we continue our quest for historical truth here at the Papers of George Washington.