One quote that Bastiat lovers–I include myself–love to cite is Bastiat’s famous quote, “When goods don’t cross borders, armies will.” There’s one little problem with the quote: he never said it.

He should have said it. One can imagine, with Bastiat’s penchant for the pithy, that he would have said it. But in a thorough search of his on-line work conducted early this year, David Hart, an historian at Liberty Fund and a Bastiat expert and aficionado, finds that he didn’t say it.

Here’s what David Hart writes:

Following a lead provided by [Nicholas] Snow I’ve done a bit more digging and found that the quote comes from Otto T. Mallery (1881-1956) who wrote a book Economic Union and Durable Peace (Harper and Brothers, 1943). This sounds very like Bastiat but he does not cite Bastiat in the book.

For more Bastiat, see here and scroll down to Bastiat.