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A saying spoken by the American delegates when the privateers' demands were issued. The delegates found the terms unacceptable answered "Not a sixpence," but in the inflated rhetoric of the day the response became the infinitely more memorable: "Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute!"

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14y ago
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14y ago

It is about principle. Tribute is paying the enemy not to attack you. The more economical deal would be to go ahead and pay the one cent in tribute, but the higher principle requires spending a million for defense instead of cowing down to an enemy.

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13y ago

I believe these words were uttered by a Congressman and not by a president, regarding the XYZ affair with France. The popular story is that Jefferson used these words regarding the Barbary pirates.

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Q: What does a million for defense not a cent for a tribute mean?
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