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The Story of a Mistaken Attribution

The Story of a Mistaken Attribution — In TidBITS-490, I paraphrased the famous saying about robbing banks because "that’s where the money is." Unfortunately, in a bit of sloppy writing in a hotel room at 2 AM, I incorrectly attributed it to Jesse James.

<http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=05488>

As I’ve now learned from numerous messages, the quote is more commonly attributed to Willie Sutton, another famous bank robber who died in 1980. Normally when I make such a irrelevant mistake in TidBITS, I grin and take my medicine in email but don’t spend any additional space in an issue atoning for my sins. This time though, the situation grew more complex, since Ed Oliveri <[email protected]> pointed me to a Web page discussing Willie Sutton’s life that provided a quote from Sutton’s second book (now out of print) disclaiming responsibility for the quote and noting that he robbed banks for the thrill, not the money.

<http://www.banking.com/aba/profile_0397.htm>

Then, to further complicate the issue, Steve Lamont <[email protected]> sent along a quote attributed to Robespierre: "When a Banker jumps out of a window, jump after him – that’s where the money is." Robespierre’s quote (assuming it’s accurate) predates Willie Sutton and the unknown reporter who invented the famous quote by quite a few years, so in the end, I’ll take my medicine happily, knowing that at least my mistake made for an interesting story. [ACE]

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