Category Archives: John Godfrey Saxe

Laws are Like Sausages. Better Not to See Them Being Made

Otto von Bismarck? John Godfrey Saxe? Claudius O. Johnson?


Dear Quote Investigator: The quotation of Otto von Bismarck about laws and sausages has been a favorite of mine for years. I found several versions using Google, and here are two:

Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.

To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.

I looked for some clear references to texts written by Otto von Bismarck and translated into English to justify the attributions. I could not find anything. Could you investigate this quotation to find out who really said it originally?

Quote Investigator: Quotation experts Fred Shapiro and Ralph Keyes have identified the most likely originator of the aphorism. Before presenting that evidence QI will give the details of a citation in an American history textbook from the 1930s. This post ends with information about a bizarre duel involving sausages that was reported in the 1860s.

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