"The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private
affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble,
through the rivaly of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain
official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will
lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much
of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or
German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him
when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die,
and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the
tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to
paradise."
by:
Mark Twain
[Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910) American author and humorist
Source:
The Twainian, Nov., 1943 "Official Physic", p. 5 [newsletter of the Mark Twain Association]
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Reader comments about this quote:
Same as it ever was...
 -- St. Louis, MO     
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    Twain encapsulated all that is part of government today, and the reasons the people dislike it.... in one short statement..
     -- Ron, Camillus     
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    Almost everything Sam said was memorable, worth repeating. They did a one man show with nothing but his quotes for two hours! Unfortunately, he got very bitter and cynical in his old age. (re:_The Mysterious Stranger_ But, we all do that, a little. RZ -- going on 70.
     -- Senoir Reek, Corozal, Belize, Central America     
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    God help America! We seem unable to help ourselves! (Except, of course, for certain politicians and bureaucrats!)
     -- john-douglas, nassau     
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    Mr. Twain never had the pleasure of meeting our Supreme Court.
     -- R.A. McMillan, Knoxville, Tn.     
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    Mark Twain had a real talent for expressing the truth in an way that made common sense clear.
     -- Dave Hemphill, Boulder City, NV     
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    An example of government meddling in the private lives of individuals is the invasion of the Schiavos' family relationship by meddling bureaucrats, politicians and judges, as if there is no meaning to a marriage contract based on "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health." Mark Twain is right: " ... there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action ... and sink into the helplessness ... government to prescribe ... when he may die ... to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise."
     -- Barry Banks, San Diego     
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    This quote has the longest sentence that I have ever encountered. I would prefer it be broken down into shorter sentences for ease understanding. Bottom Line: it is a mouthful!!
     -- JE, Honolulu     
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    Though I totally agree that Government should not interfere with the private lives of it's citizens, as long as they are free of crime, I disagree that we leave those incapable of self care with regard to health and well-being to the majority. A civilized state is only recognized if it takes care of it's children, the elderly and those that are infirmed, how do we do that unless the government is involved - do we throw them out with the bath water. Where is America going if we allow 45 million citizens (twice that on a day-to-day basis) without healthcare. Where is America going if we are the 26th nation in the world with regard to our new-born mortality rate. Where is America going if we allow more deaths of our citizens by firearms than any other nation - the list goes on. By the way, the Frenchman and German are not complaining about their system.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    Great quote. LOL Robert, you should have prefaced your remarks with "what would somebody say if they had no eyes, ears, knowledge of liberty's administration, or understanding of religion."
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The crazy thing is that Americans today demand from government the very thing Twain warned about. We have NO idea what independence means nor do most want it.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Prophetic, yet not unique. Many people can see the train wreck coming, but there seems to be very little that can be done to prevent it. I suppose it is human nature to let the accident happen and then clean up the mess later (if you can). As for the French and Germans being pleased with their system; of course they are-until it all comes crashing down around them.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Robert, more deaths by firearms than any other nation? Really? How about Sudan? Remember, citizens possessing their own firearms can prevent another Darfur.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Per 100,000 people, South Africa is #1 with 72, Colombia is #2 with 51, Thailand is #3 with 31 and the U.S. is #8 with 3. www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir_percap-crime-murders-firearms-per-capita The Violence Policy Center (Brady organization) exagerates firearms deaths by quoting 13.7 per 100,000. www.vpc.org/press/0203france.htm VPC encourages asking adults of a home where your child plays if they own a gun. Pool accidents are 60x more likely to cause a childs death than guns, so the better question is if the home has a pool. VPC ignores 2.5 million times each year when guns are used to prevent murder, rape, robbery, and more. Also, the more government gets involved with health care, the less people are able to afford it.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    Yep, Sam said it best and said it often! I'm totally convinced that the absolute best that we can expect from government is NOTHING. On January 2 of each year our politicians should show up, call the role, and whoever is present should be given their total annual pay...on one condition that they go home.
     -- Cal, Grand Forks, ND     
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    You guys insult Twain and his memory by quoting him out of context to support your cause. Twain was a liberal. He supported liberal causes his entire life. He paid the way for several of the first black men to go to college. He campaigned for a woman's right to vote. He hated war. He wrote against slavery and bigotry of any kind. He supported General Grant, and helped him write his bio. He openly supported gays. He wrote against torture many times. He even wrote against waterboarding! This quote was part of a speech, and spoken satirically. As Twain said, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than it is to open it and remove all doubt." Research before you quote. I'm a Twain scholar. He never would have sided with the conservatives. He was an open and unabashed liberal. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1820166-1,00.html
     -- kt, valpo     
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    How much the world has changed since Twain! My bet is that the financial/insurance world has far more detailed dope on me than the government, and they are definitely using it for their own profit
     -- Butchman, Nebraska     
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     -- Anonymous      
    Valpo. Twain made fun of government over and over. I doubt that he was a liberal in the sense of what liberals are today, namely people who have severe mental problems. The liberal element in our government, both parties, has spent our country past bankruptcy and Twain would never have approved of this.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    The history of the world is the history of every great areas of unity. The more we travel, communicate etcetera the more we will be alike. By government meddling in citiy affairs we all assume (I assume) Twain meant the Feds, bu he could have meant state government also. Anyway without Fed meddling we could still have Chicago being run by the mob. We could have cartels take over our cities as in Mexico etcetera.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    A very appropriate quote for April 15th, April fools day.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
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    There you go again Waffler. It was the federal government's 18th ammendent to the constitution that caused big city MOB rule. Get your facts straight.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    Waffler, I love that you are so actively involved in disseminating shallow observations in service of your beloved nanny state. It give people with the ability to think a platform to refute all that you say. Chicago was "run by the mob" BECAUSE of government meddling. When they brought in prohibition they created the black market for alcohol and the situation that created the gangs...turf wars. Just like the drug laws of today. You should learn to think in "complete" thoughts...or maybe simple sloganeering is what works best for simple minds? Have a simple day my Commie friend. :)
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    gun control works: Hitler, Mao, Castro, Lenin, Kim...worked for them... drug wars work...they EMPLOY the drug cartels, the public official on the take, the police, the military, the border patrol, the sheriffs, the DEA, the FBI, the TFA, the jails, the judges and other court workers, the CIA, there are certainly more that I have missed here-OH the federal government who follows the guns by letting them 'walk' .... Everyone of those agencies are paid for by the tax payer, and are government authority. It would not do to legalize these drugs for there would be 10s of thousands of people out of a very authoritative job; and it would make sense then to close the borders.
     -- Abigail, Newport     
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    I have read Mark Twain's work for more than 50 years and I have never run across this quotation. I have serious doubts about its authenticity. kt's remarks are right on the mark. And thank you, Waffler, for more realistic observations.
     -- dick, fort worth     
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    I think dick, fort worth and Waffler are the same person. lol
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Twain knew what was up!
     -- Byron, Fort Collins, CO     
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    Waffler again attempts to convert us to his Socialist-Progressive mind-set. And, again totally fails at his pathetic attempts.
     -- Mary - MI     
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    Mr. Carlton & Mary = 2.
    dick and Waffler = 0

    Thank you Mr. Clemens.
     -- Mike, Pleasant Hill     
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    Obviously Mr. Clemens was pro independent, anti socialist. !!
     -- Ron w13, Or     
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    I really wish there was a verifiable source given for this quote.
     -- Anonymous, Pittsburgh     
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    Reply to Robert Sarasota...re: firearms. Our "judicial" system" has been deliberately dumbed down by those intent on disarming this nation. George Washington called firearms "The liberty's teeth". It's not and never has been about gun control, it's about the deliberate lack of crime control. Clinton on taking office fired 93 federal prosecutors and replaced them with leftist liberal prosecutors. Over the last 20 plus years violent crime has skyrocketed. In the 50's almost every household had firearms. If one would just look at international and national crime stats the truth is there...not in a bought and paid for "media" who's job it is to repeat lies so often even normally intelligent people buy them. Not one of these criminals is a member of the Big Bad Wolf, NRA...they are criminals...oddly enough every attempt to ban guns in liberal, democrat controlled cities has only increased the violence against law abiding citizens forbidden the RIGHT to defend family and property. This kind of violence was almost unheard of in the 50's.
     -- Denise, Durango     
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    P.S. Seven nations since the 1900's were systematically disarmed over a period of 5 to 15 years using much the same propaganda being tossed around now. The almost complete extermination of the Jews was precipitated by first registering firearms, then confiscating them. Almost 60 million citizens were killed. Power hungry governments are very sensitive to arms in the hands of the people. The U.S. government is a bloated whale that's been allowed...by we the people....to intrude on every aspect of our lives...the last regime talked of organizing a "brown shirt youth" program in the beginning of his questionable occupation of our White House...who else had a "brown shirt" youth movement...?
     -- Denise, Durango     
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    The source has been updated. The quotation was published by the Mark Twain Association in 1943 from an essay titled 'Official Physic.'
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
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