A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 20, 2011
“The lottery is a wonderful thing; it lays the taxation only on the willing”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) wrote in “Thoughts on Lotteries,” February 1826:

“Money is wanting for a useful undertaking, as a school, &c., for which a direct tax would be disapproved. It is raised therefore by a lottery, wherein the tax is laid on the willing only, that is to say, on those who can risk the price of a ticket without sensible injury for the possibility of a higher prize.”

By at least 1984, Jefferson’s phrase was slightly changed by lottery advocates to, “The lottery is a wonderful thing; it lays the taxation only on the willing.”


Wikipedia: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). An influential Founding Father, Jefferson envisioned America as a great “Empire of Liberty” that would promote republicanism.

Google Books
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson
Volume 10
by Thomas Jefferson
Edited by Paul Leicester Ford
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
1892-99
Pg. 362:
THOUGHTS ON LOTTERIES.
February, 1826.
Pg. 363:
Money is wanting for a useful undertaking, as a school, &c., for which a direct tax would be disapproved. It is raised therefore by a lottery, wherein the tax is laid on the willing only, that is to say, on those who can risk the price of a ticket without sensible injury for the possibility of a higher prize.

1 December 1984, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, ‘To attack U.S. deficit: How about a lottery?’ by Charles S. Clark, pg. 15A, col. 3: 
Lottery advocates are quick to quote Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that “the lottery is a wonderful thing; it lays the taxation only on the willing.”

4 October 1987, Washington (DC) Post, “A Lottery Is a Wonderful Thing; Mr. Jefferson said so,” pg. C8:
Thomas Jefferson said, “A lottery is a wonderful thing; it lays taxation only on the willing.”

Google Books
Selling Hope:
State Lotteries in America

By Charles T. Clotfelter and Philip J. Cook
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
1989
Pg. 299:
This statement has been attributed to Jefferson: “A lottery is a wonderful thing; it lays taxation only on the willing.”

Google Books
The Notes:
Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom

By Ronald Reagan
Edited by Douglas Brinkley
New York, NY: HarperCollins
2011
Pg. 81 (Thomas Jefferson):
The lottery is a wonderful thing; it lays the taxation only on the willing.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, May 20, 2011 • Permalink