The Question Is Not Where Civilization Began, But When Will It

Mohandas Gandhi? Dorothy Uris? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Archaeologists and historians have expended enormous efforts in tracing the origins of civilization. A trenchant humorist has said that scholars should not be trying to ascertain where civilization began; instead, they should be trying to guess when it will begin. Did Mahatma Gandhi say something like this? Would you please explore this quip?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Baltimore Sun” of Maryland in 1925. A column titled “Sunbeams” contained five miscellaneous statements, and this was the first. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The question is not where civilization began, but when will it.

The article had no byline, so the ascription of the statements was anonymous. Many years later a thematically related saying was attributed to Mahatma Gandhi without solid evidence.

Below are additional selected citations and commentary.

Continue reading The Question Is Not Where Civilization Began, But When Will It

Notes:

  1. 1925 December 14, The Baltimore Sun, Sunbeams, Quote Page 8, Column 3, Baltimore, Maryland. (Newspapers_com)