Who said: " I disagree with what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it" ?

James Garfield
0% (0 votes)
Winston Churchill
10% (2 votes)
Elmer Davis
0% (0 votes)
80% (16 votes)
William Orville Douglas
10% (2 votes)
Total votes: 20
Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

...the quote is 'attributed'....

Sure appreciate the input :-)

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

I found this explanation at http://forum.quoteland.com/1/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=586192041&f=099191541&m=1...

The phrase
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S[tephen] G. Tallentyre. Chapter VII is devoted to Helvetius (1715-1771), whom she depicts as a kindly, generous person, with a hint of more talent to raise him above mediocrity. He married and settled in the sticks, with a new wife who was unfashionably old (32), and they were happy. This was ended by his tragic aspiration, to earn some small glory for himself as a philosopher.
In 1758, he published "De l'Esprit," which Hall renders "On the Mind." From the little Hall says of it directly, I take it that this was a moral-relativist tract, adducing bad social conditions as the cause of immoral behavior, regarding humans essentially as animals, and skeptical of the validity of moral claims generally.

This was unpopular with everyone - secular philosophers, all of the church, the government. It certainly got him noticed, but not by all at once. Voltaire immediately regarded the work as a serious disappointment from one who had been a somewhat promising protege. He was most insulted to have been compared in it with lesser intellectual lights (Crebillon and Fontenelle). It was widely criticized by other wits of their enlightened social circle. For a few months, however, it escaped the notice of the government.
Then the Dauphin read it.
The privilege to publish was revoked; the censor who approved its publication was sacked. A rolling wave of official condemnation began, culminating with the Pope (Jan. 31, 1759) and the Parliament of Paris (Feb. 6) and public book-burning by the hangman (Feb. 10), an honor shared with Voltaire's "Natural Law."

On the principle that anything so unpopular with the government must ipso facto be pretty good, the official condemnation permanently established Helvetius's philosophical repute among the fashionable salon crowd, and rehabilitated him among the intellectual elite as well, to a great extent. He became popular in Protestant Germany and England.
Hall wrote:
...The men who had hated [the book], and had not particularly loved Helvetius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. 'What a fuss about an omelette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his attitude now. But he soon came, as a Voltaire would come, to swearing that there was no more materialism in 'On the Mind' than in Locke, and a thousand more daring things in 'The Spirit of Laws.'
(Boldface added here for emphasis.) Friends is not a scholarly work, but Hall is fairly scrupulous throughout the book to state within the text whether she is quoting speech or text, and whether various reports are first-person or likely hearsay. I believe it was reasonable of her to expect that 'I disapprove ... say it' would be recognized as her own characterization of Voltaire's attitude. I think some readers were confused because of the way she follows this with paraphrases of his spoken criticisms.
In any case, the phrase was too eloquent, so it became quoted, and famous names attach themselves to quotes, to the detriment of the less well-known originators.
Hall herself claimed later that she had been paraphrasing Voltaire's words in his Essay on Tolerance:
"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too."
Hall died in 1919. In his A Book of French Quotations (1963), Norbert Guterman suggested that the probable source for the quotation was a line in a 6 February 1770 letter to M. le Riche:
"Monsieur l'abbe, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth. ~Japanese Proverb

I believe the words were spoken by Voltaire (Arouet). I am not aware that it is a requirement that a statement be present in a written format anywhere to be claimed to belong to a specific person.

For instance I'm quite sure many are familiar with the March 1775 speech at St. Johns in Richmond in which Patrick Henry urged his fellow Virginians to arm in self defense, closing his speech with the phrase "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

He spoke these words to an audience, rather than recording them anywhere, but there are few Americans who have not heard them and believe them to be his words.

As to Fran

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

"The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude".

Leave it to the French and Bill Clinton to discover how to change one's actual legacy.