David Barton's Jefferson Lies: The Immigration and Healthcare Edition

Chris Rodda has done it again. Although I can’t add much to this take down of David Barton, I want my readers to be aware of it. Let me summarize and further illustrate Rodda’s excellent post.
On the March 9 edition of Wallbuilders Live radio program, Barton took a question from a listener about immigration. To answer her, Barton claims to offer a quote from Thomas Jefferson. Listen:

Transcript:

Let me read a Thomas Jefferson quote on what the federal government’s to do with this combination of immigration-health care. He says quote, “The federal government is to certify with the exact truth for every vessel sailing in from a foreign port the state of health on that vessel, which prevails from which country she sails. But the state authorities are charged with the care of the public health.”
So the feds get to do health care only for ships carrying immigrants coming to the United States and we see what the health conditions were when they left, what they are when they get here, and everything else belongs to the states on health care. And immigration was very much the same.

Chris Rodda points out that Jefferson did not say what Barton made him say.
First, let me repeat what Barton said Jefferson said.

The federal government is to certify with the exact truth for every vessel sailing in from a foreign port the state of health on that vessel, which prevails from which country she sails. But the state authorities are charged with the care of the public health.

Barton changed Jefferson’s words in ways that make next to impossible to believe he did it without knowing he was distorting Jefferson’s words and meaning.
What is the source of Barton’s fractured quote? In his 1805 report to Congress on the state of the nation, Jefferson began by mentioning the yellow fever epidemics in the U.S.  Jefferson first acknowledged the epidemic and then he told Congress that he had taken steps to reassure our European trading partners that the fever wasn’t spread via vessels sailing from our ports. Do you see how Barton changed Jefferson’s meaning?

In taking a view of the state of our country we in the first place notice the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it. In the course of the several visitations by this disease it has appeared that it is strictly local, incident to cities and on the tide waters only, incommunicable in the country either by persons under the disease or by goods carried from diseased places; that its access is with the autumn and it disappears with the early frosts. These restrictions within narrow limits of time and space give security even to our maritime cities three fourths of the year, and to the country always. Although from these facts it appears unnecessary, yet to satisfy the fears of foreign nations and cautions on their part not to be complained of in a danger whose limits are yet unknown to them I have strictly enjoined on the officers at the head of customs to certify with exact truth, for every vessel sailing for a foreign port the state of health respecting this fever which prevails at the place from which she sails.. Under every motive from character and duty to certify the truth, I have no doubt they have faithfully executed this injunction. Much real injury has, however, been sustained from a propensity to identify with this endemic and to call by the same name fevers of very different kinds, which have been placed among those deemed contagious. As we advance in our knowledge of this disease, as facts develop the source from which individuals receive it, the State authorities charged with the care of the public health, and Congress with that of the general commerce, will become able to regulate with effect their respective functions in these departments. The burthen of quarantines is felt at home as well as abroad; their efficacy merits examination. Although the health laws of the States should be found to need no present revisal by Congress, yet commerce claims that their attention be ever awake to them.

To make this very clear, let me reproduce Barton’s quote but omit the words Jefferson didn’t say.
___ ______ ___________ __ to certify with ___ exact truth for every vessel sailing __ ____ a foreign port the state of health __ ___ ____, which prevails __ ___ _____ from which ________ she sails. (75 words) ___ the state authorities __ charged with the care of the public health (21 words).
Now let me do it a different way. I will reproduce the entire actual quote from Jefferson with the words Barton chose to include in his fractured quote in bold print.

In taking a view of the state of our country we in the first place notice the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it. In the course of the several visitations by this disease it has appeared that it is strictly local, incident to cities and on the tide waters only, incommunicable in the country either by persons under the disease or by goods carried from diseased places; that its access is with the autumn and it disappears with the early frosts. These restrictions within narrow limits of time and space give security even to our maritime cities three fourths of the year, and to the country always. Although from these facts it appears unnecessary, yet to satisfy the fears of foreign nations and cautions on their part not to be complained of in a danger whose limits are yet unknown to them I have strictly enjoined on the officers at the head of customs to certify with exact truth, for every vessel sailing for a foreign port the state of health respecting this fever which prevails at the place from which she sails. Under every motive from character and duty to certify the truth, I have no doubt they have faithfully executed this injunction. Much real injury has, however, been sustained from a propensity to identify with this endemic and to call by the same name fevers of very different kinds, which have been placed among those deemed contagious. As we advance in our knowledge of this disease, as facts develop the source from which individuals receive it, the State authorities charged with the care of the public health, and Congress with that of the general commerce, will become able to regulate with effect their respective functions in these departments. The burthen of quarantines is felt at home as well as abroad; their efficacy merits examination. Although the health laws of the States should be found to need no present revisal by Congress, yet commerce claims that their attention be ever awake to them.

Barton added and subtracted words he wanted to make Jefferson say something he didn’t say. Surely David Barton knows the difference between “sailing for” a port and “sailing in from” one.
Clearly, Jefferson told Congress that he had taken steps to address foreign worries about disease coming into their countries, not from them. Barton also eliminated references to federal oversight of health because Barton wants his audience to believe the founders believed health care was a state matter. However, Jefferson refers to the State authorities and “Congress with that of general commerce.” Barton omits this reference.
Sometimes Barton’s errors are interpretive, but in this case, he simply took liberties with Jefferson’s words and has presented a false story.  Such conduct disqualifies Barton as a historian.