Talk:Abraham Lincoln

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Abraham Lincoln page.


Unsourced: Quotes widely attributed to the author or work but not sourced to an original work or reputable secondary publication. Read more at Wikiquote:Sourced and Unsourced sections.

  • I want no one punished, treat them liberally all around. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and submit to the laws.

First debate with Stephen Douglas, racial equality[edit]

"Social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastical arrangement of words by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so. I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together on the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, — the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas that he is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color, perhaps not in intellectual and moral endowments; but in the right to eat the bread without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every other man." - Abraham Lincoln (sources: first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in Illinois, 1858-8-21 | | | 14:58, 15 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Older comments[edit]

According to Snopes [1], the Lincoln quote about corporations is false. However, I find their evidence uncompelling (has anyone bothered to ask the purported recipient of the letter?). This seems to be a case for a good researcher.--Eloquence

from "Fake Lincoln Quotes" [2]: "historian Matthew Pinkser wrote on the website, History News Network, on June 3, the quote is nowhere in Lincoln’s collected works, and his official biographer called it ‘a bold, unblushing forgery.’" [[User:GK|gK ¿?]] 08:28, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Racism in the past and present[edit]

I have just noticed that some remarks of Jefferson and Lincoln have today been posted, that anyone who is aware of history, and the pervasive influence of racist presumptions know are possibly, or even probably genuine, — I am familiar with such remarks by both men, and have not yet bothered to do any search to see whether these are accurate or not.
That there are racist ideas that have infected the minds of even brilliant people in the past, and many very unbrilliant fools even today cannot be denied. It is perhaps best that we are occasionally reminded of such stupidity, that we are aware of its severity, and less prone to fall into it ourselves. I am posting this remark in both the Lincoln and Jefferson talk pages. I hope that we can avoid becoming a place where such idiots as still hold such views will feel welcome to post their particular forms of nonsense, as if showing that some notable and otherwise admirable person (often with much less opportunity to become aware of the deficiencies of such ideas) made such comments ages, or even a few decades ago, as if they should be held up as if it were testimony that such inane ideas were right, and their own continued ignorance, bigotry and other forms of stupidity were justified. Moby 00:28, 4 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Both quotations seem accurate, and do reflect the appalling prevelance of racism and other forms of bigotry in human history.
If the poster was attempting to show the deficiency of these individuals, rather than support for the inane ideas expressed, it should be remembered, that social environments shape one's ideas and perceptions, but the truly great focus upon shaping social environments through expressions that are true and beneficial, rather than those that are false or create needless hostilities and resentments.
There are many forms of narrow mindendness and presumption that persist even today, that many people remain oblivious to, or which they promote in various ways. No person is immune to being infected by extreme forms of nonsense taken for sense, especially when most of those around them are already profoundly infested, and have much invested in having such situations of intolerence of diversity become or remain an accepted norm. Moby 20:29, 4 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Moby- The quotes are disturbing. My hope is that the person that posted them was not endorsing the comments. My hope is also that the person who posted them was not trying to defame an otherwise impressive record of admirable men (Lincoln & Jefferson). I think many of us would be more comfortable if the words had never been spoken, and had never been posted. However, the words were spoken and posted, and I think they show the extremely complex situation faced by Lincoln. I firmly believe that Abraham Lincoln had a heart to correct injustice, and end the evil and sinful institution of slavery. Few men in history would have had the courage and perseverance to see the war through to completion, and the elimination of slavery. His actions speak for where his heart really stood. If he truly believed the words in the quote, he would have never had the fortitude to stand strong during four years of carnage. Lincoln's leadership was instrumental in ending the institution of slavery. Ending slavery did not end racism, but I hope we all agree that it was a large step in the right direction, and we can all be thankful for Lincoln's fortitude in making it happen. Remember that during the debate, Lincoln was NOT president. Also, realize that if Lincoln was not elected, he would not be able to end slavery. To end slavery he had to be President. Lets consider the debate in question, and lets pretend that instead of saying what he said, he said the following: "I see a future in which Blacks stand on juries in judgment of whites. I see a future where Blacks not only vote, but elect their own to office. I see a future where black Men take our white daughters as wives, creating a new intermixing of the races. I see Black police officers given power to arrest white men." You know, at the time, Lincoln might have believed more in what I wrote than what he said, but you know, if he had said it he would likely have never been elected president- the country was just not ready for that statement. If he had not been elected president, it is likely that Slavery would have continued for at least another decade, if not more. We would be several decades behind where we are now as far as equality, etc. I am fearful that my comments may sound like “the end justifies the means”. I do not believe that the end justifies the means. Personally, however, I am willing to give Lincoln the benefit of the doubt, forgive the comments, and still consider him one of the best presidents our country has had . . . best for Black people, White people, all Americans, since he led us collectively out of the institution of slavery. Pjm-5/3/04

Nationalism was the growing political ideology of the time period, and like Peidmont in Italy, the unfication of the Germans under Prussia, and Japan's political centralism Lincoln fought the war to it's end not because of any idealist motivations of ridding the world of the evil of slavery, but rather to keep the country unified. You're putting words in a man's mouth Pjm, and you assume Lincoln to feel things which every historical documentation of him suggests he didn't. If you look at the quote of Ulysses S. Grant in which he states, "If I thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission and offer my sword to the other side." you get a good glimpse and the mindset of the Union leaders.

No One Man Should Hold the Power[edit]

"Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose- and you allow him to make war at pleasure."

In the disputed, I have the complete text of this speech in a collection of his works Lincoln on Democracy, published well before the current war. I can get the bibliographical, assuming that this is the only problem, and that the speech is in fact known by whoever put it there, but nevertheless still disputed.

what southerner really called Lincoln the souths best friend?[edit]

I count about five people who are supposed to have said something to this affect after Lincoln's murder.

"If there is a worse place than hell, I am in it."[edit]

From, and other web sources.

"If there is a worse place than hell, I am in it." Lincoln writing about the Union disaster at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Goolrick, William K., and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Rebels Resurgent: Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville, Time-Life Books, 1985, ISBN 0-8094-4748-7, pp. 92-93.

Lincoln on prayer[edit]

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day." Written by Lincoln to a friend after the Second Battle of Manassas. The web references several slight variations on this wording.

Dubious quote of Bismarck[edit]

I was initially moving a quote into order, and removing a dead link associated with it, but further research leaves me very unimpressed with claims of its authenticity:

  • The death of Lincoln was a disaster for Christendom. There was no man great enough to wear his boots... I fear that foreign bankers with their craftiness and tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America, and use it systematically to corrupt modern civilization. They will not hesititate to plunge the whole of Christendom into wars and chaos in order that the world should become their inheritance.

This is a highly dubious quotation, and the English statement seems to have originated in an anti-semitic booklet The Secret World Government or "The Hidden Hand": The Unrevealed in History (1926) by Count Cherep-Spriridovich, p. 180, which cites an earlier account in La Vielle France N. 216 (March 1921) of a German, Conrad Siem, who, it is claimed, Bismarck told in 1876:

  However further Investigation into this matter has uncovered the exact origin of this quote...  the La Vielle France found this quote from a book published in 1915.. which can be found in several Libraries around the United States.. 
 SIEM, CONRAD. The C. S. L. T. con-

taining views on Abraham Lincoln, as expressed by Bismarck in 1878, from the recollections of Conrad von Bauditz Siem. Washington, 1915. 61 p. 23 cm.

Bismarck was not Anti-Semetic.. 
The death of Lincoln was a disaster for Christendom. There was no man great enough to wear his boots. And Israel went anew to grab the riches of the World. I fear that Jewish Banks with their craftiness and tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America, and use it systematically to corrupt modern civilization. The Jews will not hesititate to plunge the whole of Christendom into wars and chaos, in order that "the earth should become the inheritance of Israel."

The 1926 document on the same page also cites the entirely bogus Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as a verification of some its claims. As this appears to be, at best, a translation of a comment reported second-hand 44 years after the event, the levels of accuracy, legitimacy and relevancy of the quote itself, as well as any translation, I believe does not warrant its inclusion on the article page, and I decided to remove it entirely and place it here. ~ Kalki 18:33, 15 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You can X Y of the people Z of the time[edit]

Bob Dylan On Abraham Lincoln and the 'X Y of the people Z of the time' quote:

Somewhere in this period, Milton Hay of Springfield heard Lincoln speak offhand a rule or maxim in politics. Hay later passed it on to Joseph Fifer of Bloomington who found it so simple, so nicely singsong, that he couldn't forget it:
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool ALL of the people ALL of the time."
From: A Lincoln Album: Readings by Carl Sandburg. Caedmon TC 2015, 2 LP set, (c) 1957, last 2:25 of Side 1.

(mrflip) -- 22:25, 24 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

( Frenchman Jacques Abbadie in 1684 appears to be the earliest known reference for the origination of the quote. Year: 1684 (MDCLXXXIV), Title: Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne, Edition: Author: Jacques Abbadie, Quote Page 11, Publisher: Chez Reinier Leers, Rotterdam, (The original text used “tems” instead of “temps”)

Fool some of the people[edit]

Uses in Newspapers from 1886 to 1888

1886-07-05 Springfield Globe-Republic, p. 1 A prohibitionist speech
1886-10-29 Milwaukee Daily Journal p. 1 A Democratic speech
1887-08-26 NY Times p. 5 A prohibitionist speech
1887-08-27 NY Times p. 2 Editorial
1887-09-08 Times Trenton (NJ) p. 3 A prohibitionist speech
1887-09-13 Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) p. 2 Just the quote in a column of short items
1887-10-07 Spirit Lake Beacon (IA) p. 8 Short item about Henry George
1887-10-13 Iowa State Reporter (Waterloo) p. 9 Same item about Henry George
1887-10-17 Logansport Daily Pharos (IN) p. 2 Editorial
1888-03-12 NY Times, p. 4, "Hodge Podge"
1888-04-03 Titusville Morning Herald (PA), p. 4 Ad for Lehman Ullman (clothier)
1888-04-20 Atlanta Constitution, p. 1, Article on Senate debate on South Dakota's Admission as a state
1888-04-20 Daily Republican (Decatur, IL), p. 2, Article on Senate debate
1888-04-20 Newark Daily Advocate (NJ), p. 3, Article on Senate debate
1888-04-20 Logansport Daily Pharos (IN), p. 3, Article on Senate debate
1888-06-06 Morning Oregonian (Portland), p. 4 Editorial
1888-09-06 New York Evangelist, p. 2 Article
1888-11-28 Freeborn County Standard (Albert Lea, MN), p. 16
1888-12-12 Puck, p. 258

(Thanks to Stephen Goranson for the July, 1886 reference, and David Parker for the other early ones.)

Uses in books from 1888

1888 Protection Echoes from the Capitol, p. 140, Thomas Hudson McKee; W. W. Curry; Reports use by Senator McComas, Cong. Record, p. 3614

1888 An Open Letter to Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge William N. Osgood

By 1889, it was used in a speech in Bristol, England by John Morley (Times, London, Oct. 30, 1889, p. 6).

In 1905, there was an investigation by the Chicago Daily Tribune and the Brooklyn Eagle to discover whether Lincoln actually said this. This was reported in article April 15, 1905, "Lincoln's Phrased Proved Original", Chicago Daily Tribune, p. D2. It's too long to include the whole thing here--maybe 2000 words (also, I haven't finished transcribing it)--but it's far from definitive. If you ask everybody in Illinois if Lincoln said something 50 years ago, some people are going to say yes. The accounts do not all agree and some are definitely contradicted by other witnesses.

A footnote was added to the 1905 edition of Complete Works of Lincoln (p. 349), for Lincoln's speech at Clinton, Ill., September 8, 1858.:

The question has been widely discussed and still remains

unsettled, as to whether Lincoln originated the memorable epigram: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

In 1905 the Chicago "Tribune" and the Brooklyn "Eagle" combined efforts in an endeavor to solve the enigma for all time. After investigation several witnesses were found, notably Lewis Campbell of Dewitt County, 111.; J. J. Robinson of Lincoln, 111.; and J. L. Hill of Fletcher, O., who agreed that Lincoln had expressed the sentiment, if not the exact words generally quoted. It is supposed that he used the phrase in the above speech while addressing the people of Clinton, though the "Pantagraph" fails to cite it. Naturally, newspaper reports in those days were never complete, and the editor on this particular occasion even apologizes for his lack of space to give the entire report of this speech.

  • Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, v. 3, by Abraham Lincoln, John George Nicolay, John Hay, Richard Watson Gilder, Daniel Fish; F. D. Tandy company (1905)

(Tom Schwartz says the speech was actually September 2.)

There are other witnesses who put the quote in 1856.

Richard Price Morgan (1909, p. 102) puts it in Bloomington in 1856:

It was in the summer of the year that I received this letter

— 1856 — that I stood next to Lincoln and heard him say: “You can fool all the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time.” He was addressing an assemblage of about three or four hundred people from the raised platform of the entrance to the Pike House, in Bloomington, Ill., upon the subject of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and reviewing the arguments of Douglas in support of it. His application of his epigram was so apt and so forcible that I have never forgotten it, and I believe that no verbal

modification of it would be accurate.

  • "Lincoln at the Decatur Convention", Address of Richard Price Morgan of Dwight, Ill. at a Lincoln centenary celebration in Pontiac, Illinois, February 12, 1909, Abraham Lincoln, by Some Men who Knew Him, Pantagraph Printing & Stationery, 1910.

William Pitt Kellogg says (1909, p. 323) of Lincoln's "Lost Speech", May 29, 1856, at the Illinois Republic Party's first state convention in Bloomington:

It was in this speech, discussing the question of popular

sovereignty, and declaring that Douglas's position upon the question of unfriendly legislation was rank sophistry, that Lincoln used the epigram: “You can fool all the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all

the time.”

  • "Recollections of William Pitt Kellogg" (1909), Abraham Lincoln Quarterly, 3:319 (Sept 1945, No. 7).

But other recollections of the "Lost Speech" don't include this.

For completeness it's worth noting this report. Joseph Fifer says (p. 22):

That remarkable man Milton Hay—and Mr. Lincoln never had a

better friend—told me that a saying of Lincoln's which all the world knows now was, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.” In 1894, after my term as governor, I made a speech in Piatt county, this state, in which I repeated what Milt Hay had told me. The speech was printed in the St. Louis Globe Democrat, the Chicago Inter-Ocean and other papers and thus the saying was first given publicity. None of the Lincoln biographers had ever discovered


Note that Fifer was wrong about being the first, since the quote had been used seven years earlier. It's not a first-person report and no details of where or when it was said are given. Also, Milton Hay (d. 1893) was the uncle of John Hay, and they did correspond about Lincoln, but John Hay was on record as not knowing the source of the quote (e.g. "Queries", New York Times, Feb. 25, 1905, p. BR126).

Corporations have been enthroned[edit]

I have found the earliest appearance of this quote yet.

Journal of United Labor
Vol 8, no. 20
Nov. 19, 1887
pg. 2


To those standing on the boundaries of the great unknown it is sometimes given to pierce the veil and give words of warning concerning events to come.

Under the halo of such an inspiration spake one for whose life the assassin was already seeking and who spake while almost within the shadow.

“Yes, we may all congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing a close. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. The best blood of the flower of American youth has been freely offered upon our country's altar that the nation might live. It has been, indeed, a trying hour for the republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudice of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of the war. God grant that my suspicion may prove groundless.”

Thus spake the sainted Lincoln. These are not the words of a brain crazed with fanaticism, but of a patriot purified by the great ordeal through which he had almost passed. Less than twenty-five years have gone and the prophesy is partially fulfilled.

The mutterings of the coming storm may be heard on every hand, and who can foretell the end?

In very helplessness the finite appeals to the infinite for help and guidance.

The alleged quotation also appears in the 20 May 1898 periodical "The Flaming Sword" here:,+we+may+all+congratulate+ourselves+that+this+cruel+war+is+nearing+a+close.+It+has+cost+a+vast+amount+of+treasure+and+blood.+The+best+blood%22&source=bl&ots=V6kt2tfhKg&sig=VvhdKUjFjoW3PBNIgXxpETu3LB4&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9CYes%2C%20we%20may%20all%20congratulate%20ourselves%20that%20this%20cruel%20war%20is%20nearing%20a%20close.%20It%20has%20cost%20a%20vast%20amount%20of%20treasure%20and%20blood.%20The%20best%20blood%22&f=false

Long enough to reach the ground[edit]

I commonly see this quote attributed to Lincoln, in reference to his legs. I'm not sure of the exact wording, or if it's even genuine, but it seems to be frequently quoted. It at least deserves mention in the "Disputed" or "Misattributed" sections if it isn't real, given how commonly people make the claim. Lurlock 22:26, 24 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The 1910 book "Personal reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln" by Thomas Lowry, starting on page 22, has this recollection:

  • In Curtis's "Life of Lincoln," he tells the story of Lincoln's answer to the question: "How long should a man's legs be in proportion to his body?" He omits the names of other prominent men connected with the story. It was when Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, and Owen Lovejoy were traveling in a stage coach on their way to attend Court at Bloomington, Illinois. Douglas had a very long body and very short legs, being only five feet high; Lovejoy had a short body, and long legs proportionately, and all know Lincoln's build. Douglas "chaffed" Lovejoy about his long legs and ’’pot belly’’ and Lovejoy retorted as to his very short legs, etc. One of them asked Lincoln: "How long should a man's legs be in proportion to his body?" and Lincoln replied: "I have not given the matter much consideration, but on first blush I should judge they ought to be long enough to reach from his body to the ground." Owen Lovejoy told me this story in Galesburg, Illinois, in the winter of 1863-4, where I was at school.

In William Eleroy Curtis's 1903 book "The True Abraham Lincoln", starting on the bottom of page 367, you'll see the following anecdote:

  • On one occasion some of Lincoln's friends were talking of the diminutive stature of Stephen A. Douglas, and an argument as to the proper length of a man's legs. During the discussion Lincoln came in, and it was agreed that the question should be referred to him for decision. "Well," said he, reflectively, "I should think a man's legs ought to be long enough to reach from his body to the ground."

That title doesn't quite match but Worldcat refers to a 1913 book by the same author as "The True Abraham Lincoln;;The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States." so I've little doubt it's the same author.

Lincoln's Monetary Policy[edit]

  • The following passage is the source of many supposed Lincoln quotes. Despite the quotation marks (in the original), the passage is Gerry McGeer's interpretation of Lincoln's policy. None of the sentences are Lincoln's.

Let us now, from his speeches and his messages to Congress, summarize the monetary policy that Lincoln, at the time of his assassination, was about to more clearly define and establish.

Lincoln's Monetary Policy

“Money is the creature of law and the creation of the original issue of money should be maintained as an exclusive monopoly of national government.

“Money possesses no value to the State other than that given to it by circulation.

“Capital has its proper place and is entitled to every protection.

“The wages of men should be recognized as the structure of government and in the social order as more important than the wages of money.

“No duty is more imperative on the government than the duty it owes the people of furnishing them with a sound and uniform currency and of regulating the circulation of the medium of exchange so that labour will be protected from a vicious currency, and commerce will be facilitated by cheap and safe exchanges.

“The available supply of gold and silver being wholly inadequate to permit the issuance of coins of intrinsic value or paper currency convertible into coin in the volume required to serve the needs of the people, some other basis for the issue of currency must be developed and some means other than that of convertibility into coin must be developed to prevent undue fluctuations in the value of paper currency or any other substitute for money of intrinsic value that may come into use.

“The monetary needs of increasing numbers of people advancing towards higher standards of living can and should be met by the government. Such needs can be served by the issue of national currency and credit through the operation of a national banking system. The circulation of a medium of exchange issued and backed by the government can be properly regulated, and redundancy of issue avoided by withdrawing from circulation such amounts as may be necessary by taxation, redeposit and otherwise. Government has the power to regulate the currency and credit of the nation.

“Government should stand behind its currency and credit and the bank deposits of the nation. No individual should suffer a loss of money through depreciated or inflated currency or bank bankruptcy.

“Government possessing the power to create and issue currency and credit as money and enjoying the right to withdraw both currency and credit from circulation by taxation and otherwise, need not and should not borrow capital at interest as the means of financing governmental work and public enterprise. The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing of money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government's greatest creative opportunity.

“By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums in interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprise, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to Money Power.”

KHirsch 15:57, 29 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is "Corporations Enthroned" disputed?[edit]

Somebody ( moved the quote that begins “As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned” from Misattributed to Disputed, with the added comment:

  • Later authoritative published compilations of Lincoln quotes such as the The Lincoln Encyclopedia, by Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY), have not taken Nicolay's word on faith, given his evident hostility to "popocratic" ideas (i.e. in favor of the common people as opposed ruling elites)

First, note that it is the New York Times that used the word “Popocratic”, not Nicolay, so no hostility can be inferred.

Second, Popocratic does not mean “in favor of the common people as opposed ruling elites”. It's a specific term from the 1890s:

  • A contemporary has suggested as a fitting name for the Bryan-Altgeld-Tillman-Hogg-Lease-Waite-Sewall combination "Popocrats," or the "Popocratic" party.
    • “The Popocratic party”, Chicago Tribune, 17 July 1896, pg. 6
  • It is to be noted that since Mr. Bryan has been adopted as the candidate of both the Populist and Democratic parties for the United States presidency, the word “Popocrat” has been compounded in order to represent the fusion. The Times used it during August within quotation marks in a leading article, and the Speaker of 5 September says of the “Sound Money” Democratic movement, “It will save some of the Southern States from the Popocrats.” — POLITICIAN
  • popocrat: in the campaign of 1896, an adherent of the Chicago, or free silver, wing of the Democratic party

Third, I don't believe that Archer Shaw doubted Nicolay because of his “evident hostility”; if Shaw said so, please cite a source. Shaw included the quote because it was in Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait by Emanuel Hertz. I doubt that Shaw knew what Nicolay said about it. Shaw was a newspaperman, not a historian. Neither Shaw's work nor Hertz's is considered authoritative by historians.

Fourth, Archer Shaw's The Lincoln Encyclopedia and the work of Emanuel Hertz on which it heavily relied, Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait are considered flawed works. Consider these two excerpts from academic reviews:

  • The trouble is that The Lincoln Encyclopedia contains far too much that Lincoln didn't write or say. ... He has even accepted at face value two of the most notorious fakes—that attributing the origin of the greenback to Colonel E. D. Taylor (under “Banking and Currency”), and that which reads in part: “As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an error of corruption in high places will follow,” which comes under the heading, “Civil War; aftermath feared.” [emphasis added]
    • Paul Angle, The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Dec., 1950), pp. 537-539, JSTOR:1893347
  • The Encyclopedia takes far too much of its material from Hertz, Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait (2 vols., 1931). It is not merely that Hertz is cited for things he unsatisfactorily reprints where a much better authority could be indicated. The worst of it is that, by following Hertz, forged passages are given as if genuine. Readers are particularly warned against the following: “Civil War, aftermath feared” (p. 40); “Lincoln, Abraham”—item no. 22 (p. 191); “Negro Suffrage, favored”—from an alleged speech at Cincinatti, May 6, 1842 (p. 226). [emphasis added]
    • J. G. Randall, The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May, 1950), pp. 230-231, JSTOR:2197915

Fifth, it is not just “Nicolay's word on faith” that labeled this quote a forgery; that was also the conclusion of John Hay and Robert Todd Lincoln, as well as numerous Lincoln historians of the 20th century. See “Lincoln Never Said That” by Thomas F. Schwartz in For the People, Spring 1999, 1 (Number 1):4.

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, which is considered the authoritative collection, labels the quote “spurious”.

If you want to label the quote “Disputed”, please cite the work of a reputable historian who specifically defends its authenticity.

KHirsch 22:26, 25 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I do love Jesus[edit]

I found what I believe is the source of this quote:

At the Tenth Anniversary of the Massachusetts Sunday School Teachers' Convention, held in Boston on the 18th ult., the following touching fact was related by one of the speakers, which we find reported in the last issue of the New York (Baptist) Chronicle:—A gentleman, known to the speaker, having recently visited Washington on business with the President, was, on leaving home, requested by a friend to ask Mr. Lincoln whether he loved Jesus. The business being completed, the question was kindly asked. The President buried his face in his handkerchief, turned away and wept. He then turned, and said:

“When I left home to take this chair of State I requested my countrymen to pray for me, I was not then a Christian. When my son died, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg, and looked upon the graves of our dead heroes who had fallen in defence of their country, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ; I do love Jesus.”

New York Evangelist. Nov 17, 1864. Vol. 35, Iss. 46; p. 4

One of the published sermons from after Lincoln's death also mentions this convention as a source. It's still an anonymous, second-hand or third-hand report, so it shouldn't be taken as strong evidence that Lincoln said it, but it's earlier than previous reports.

KHirsch 04:30, 23 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It certainly does provide stronger evidence for the validity of the quote than the later sources. It is by no means proof he said it, but the fact that this references the quote just one month after he supposedly said it does support its validity. —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure[edit]

Many amateur patriotic web sites that attribute this quotation, "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure," to Lincoln. However a search of the collected works returns no matches. Can anyone either assert that this is in fact a Lincoln quote (and add it to the page) or that it is not (and add it to the list of Misattributions)? Thank you! SaxTeacher 20:35, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'd put money on it originating with this quotation (my bold) ...
I do not believe in forever dragging over or raking up some phases of the past; in some respects the dead past might better be allowed to bury its dead, but the nation which fails to honor its heroes, the memory of its heroes, whether those heroes be living or dead, does not deserve to live, and it will not live, and so it came to pass that in 1909 nearly a hundred millions of people from the St. Lawrence to the Rio Grande and from ocean to ocean and far out into the islands of the sea were singing the praises of Abraham Lincoln.
... which is from "Lincoln, the Preserver of the Union", Address by The Honorable Hugh Gordon Miller to the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, Annual Banquet, February 22, 1911. Internet Archive. Sufficiently close to add to Misattributions? Gordonofcartoon 21:06, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would think that it should be added to misattributions (both the actual quotation you gave, and the edited one that appears so often across the internet, attributed to Lincoln). Thanks! SaxTeacher 21:14, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Done. Gordonofcartoon 22:09, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a fine example of the third corollary to the second axiom of misquotations (Ralph Keyes): "Comments made about someone might as well have been said by that person." I changed the misattribution note in the article to make the nature of the error explicit. ~ Ningauble 13:20, 26 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks! I tend to underestimate the degree of explicitness needed in identifying misattributions. Gordonofcartoon 12:48, 27 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Angel mother[edit]

What about "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother"? I was looking for it in hopes of figuring out whether he meant his biological mother or his stepmother. -- 16:21, 12 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A firm believer[edit]

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

Certainly a great quote, but is it Lincoln's? Nahum Reduta (talk) 06:23, 25 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sadly, no. I have added it to the "misattributed" section with an explanation of where it came from. --Potosino (talk) 01:11, 10 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tis indeed lincolns

Reverting vandalism[edit]

Found "DRAGON PRINCE AND DRAGON STAR (musical)" Ermeyers (talk) 19:40, 16 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dubious quotation[edit]

The quotation on the page that includes the phrase "Christ is God" has long been regarded as dubious, because it's very unlikely that Lincoln - a Deist - would ever have said such a thing. Here is an early and detailed discussion: [[3]] Shouldn't this be moved out of the main section of the page? - Macspaunday (talk) 12:01, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Glancing over the arguments in the link provided, and considering the passages to have been subject to perhaps embellished expressions, I can support the move of that statement to the "Disputed" section, as the accuracy is clearly disputable for good reasons. ~ Kalki·· 18:26, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Kitten quote on the chive[edit]

thechive has a quote supposedly from lincoln, "no matter how much cats fight there always seems to be a lot of kittens"

Drawing is by Matthew Inmam/The Oatmeal

Misattributed quote: "It’s Not the Years in Your Life That Count. It’s the Life in Your Years"[edit]

This quote is often misattributed to Lincoln. The earliest instance that Quote Investigator could locate was "in an advertisement in 1947 for a book about aging by Edward J. Stieglitz, M.D". See . Just in case other people come here looking for the quote, I thought I'd add the details. 21:40, 10 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bury Marylanders[edit]

"There is land enough in Maryland to bury 68,000 Marylanders." is this for real quote from Abraham Lincoln? 09:51, 18 September 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Did Lincoln say, "My best friend..."[edit]

~~02/17/14~~ Did Lincoln say, "My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read"?

I see this all over the Internet, but I can't find it on's Lincoln page.—This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

It seems so. The article "Abe Lincoln and His Books" by Frances Cavanah, published in 1953 by the Wilson Library Bulletin magazine, makes a similar attribution to Lincoln; it reads:
"My best friend," he told his cousin, Dennis Hanks, "is a man who can give me a book I ain't read." [4]
But there are many other, earlier, (and sometimes contradictory,) accounts; one claims that Lincoln said to Judge Pitcher, "The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll git me a book I ain't read." ([5], Lockridge A. Lincoln [1930], p. 42.) Perhaps Lincoln said this to both his cousin and Pitcher, as suggested here (Sandburg Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years [1929], pp. 42–43). A plausible source for this very quote is given in The Lincoln Treasury (1950) as follows:
"The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll git me a book I ain't read." (Circa 1825 —Sandburg, Prairie Years, I, p. 71 [6])
I might add it to the main article, if no one objects, in the next couple of days. Cheers, DanielTom (talk) 22:11, 17 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is a wonderful quote, but I see that it's not in the article. Was it proved false? Thank you, Wordreader (talk) 20:28, 18 September 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Whatever you are, be a good one."[edit]

What is the origin of this quote? So many thrift store decorations and greeting cards attribute it to Lincoln, and according to this article, even Joe Biden did too. --JohnnyLurg (talk) 22:34, 18 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Those who hustle[edit]

Just watched the new movie Predestination and there was a quote "good things happen to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who hustle". I couldn't find it from here and googled if it was legit and found that this one has also been in form "Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle" and that Abraham Lincoln Association's newsletter refuted it in 2003.[7] Is there better ways to be sure?--Custoo (talk) 16:09, 1 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We can never be "sure", but if you check on Google Books, the earliest appearance of this quote is c. 1975 ([8]), in unreliable journals that don't mention any source. So I would say the newsletter you cited got it right—it's a fake, very late attribution. ~ DanielTom (talk) 16:59, 1 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unsourced Quotes by Abraham Lincoln[edit]

Hello, all,

This is the first time I have seen a talk page on Wikiquote where almost every topic is an unsourced quote. On other talk pages, there is a boxed list of unsourced quotes. I much prefer that format but don't know how to format this page to match it. Can someone do that? Here's one to add. DBlomgren (talk) 19:42, 8 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Every man's happiness is his own responsibility.
  • If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?
- Abraham Lincoln

Suicide's Soliloquy[edit]

I wasn't sure how quoting poetry would work; however Lincoln is alleged to have written this; so I thought some part of it should be mentioned under the Disputed section. [9] CensoredScribe (talk) 18:02, 24 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Made up quote? "I am a slow walker, but I never walk back"[edit]

This appears to be a made up quote. Does somebody have the full quote, context, or maybe the archives or documentation showing this was in the Lexington Observer? Otherwise it should be deleted or better yet, maybe there needs to be an "unverified likely made up" quotes section.

 I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.
       Quoted in The Lexington Observer & Reporter (16 June 1864).

Quote about secession[edit]

I've seen this quote attributed to him but can't find a source for it: "I can't let them [the South] leave. Who would pay for the government?" Does anyone have a source or is this a misattributed quote? Emperor001 (talk) 02:24, 9 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The anti-prohibition "quote" Abraham Lincoln#1840s, added 13:06, 18 March 2016 by User:Illegitimate Barrister, is a forgery, isn't it? And the "source" just a sick joke? Cf.

A joke? I don't find this sort of rubbish the least bit amusing. The cited site is neither notable enough to quote nor reliable enough to cite, and should not be quoted or cited here. ~ Ningauble (talk) 15:29, 3 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I moved it to Abraham Lincoln#Misattributed. (talk) 20:13, 3 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

broader differences[edit]

“See our present condition—the country engaged in war! Our White men cutting one another’s throats! And then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or another. “Why should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between [us more than] almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. It is better for both, therefore, to be separated.” — ABRAHAM LINCOLN, spoken at the White House to a group of black community leaders, August 14th, 1862

How do we know he really said all this? How many sources confirm it? I only see one. Has anyone questioned it? ScratchMarshall (talk) 19:30, 12 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quoting Wycliffe at Gettysburg[edit]

Shouldn't the article say something about "government of the people, by the people, for the people" being a quotation of John Wycliffe? Mathglot (talk) 03:58, 9 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I will note that my earlier reverting on this page was indeed a mistake I had not even realized I had made until I just began reviewing some things on the project again, and thus was prompted to make this present comment of apology. There is no problem in a short comment on Wycliffe's origination of the phrase being provided beneath Lincoln's use of it. ~ Kalki·· 07:29, 9 April 2019 (UTC) + tweakReply[reply]
Appreciated. I'm only a now-and-again editor here; I'll let you (or other interested party more familiar with conventions at wikiquote) make the addition, if deemed an improvement. Thanks, Mathglot (talk) 07:47, 9 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Great Book" quote should be listed in the 'disputed' section.[edit]

The entry as it stands in wikiquote is as follows:

"In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. Words on being presented with a Bible, as reported in the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle (8 September 1864)"

However, this quote is of dubious origin, and may be spurious.

In John Remsburg's book _Six_Historic_Americans, we find the following in the chapter on Lincoln: ""In regard to the Great Book I have only to say that it is the best gift which God has given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. But for this book we could not know right from wrong. All those things desirable to man are contained in it" (Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 340).

The writer of this was in Washington when the colored deputation from Baltimore presented the President with a $500 Bible. The papers mentioned the fact at the time, but no such speech as Lincoln is said to have made appeared in the reports. About two months later, this apocryphal version of his remarks on the occasion referred to, made its appearance.

The first two sentences contained in this speech (the only part of it that Arnold has quoted), Lincoln, if a Christian, might have uttered. They are words that any intelligent Christian might, from his standpoint, with propriety affirm. We are familiar with these claims. We are also familiar with the claims embodied in the last two sentences. They are repeatedly made. But they are made only by very ignorant persons, or by clerical hypocrites who try to impose upon the ignorance and credulity of their hearers. Had Lincoln been a Christian he would not have used these words, because he was too intelligent to believe them, and too honest to pretend to believe them.

Concerning this speech, Lincoln's partner, Mr. Herndon, thus vigorously, yet truthfully, remarks:

"I am aware of the fraud committed on Mr. Lincoln in reporting some insane remarks supposed to have been made by him, in 1864, on the presentation of a Bible to him by the colored people of Baltimore. No sane man ever uttered such folly, and no sane man will ever believe it. In that speech Mr. Lincoln is made to say: 'But for this book we could not know right from wrong.' Does any human being believe that Lincoln ever uttered this? What did the whole race of man do to know right from wrong during the countless years that passed before this book was given to the world? How did the struggling race of man build up its grand civilizations in the world before this book was given to mankind? What do the millions of people now living, who never heard of this book, do to know how to distinguish right from wrong? Was Lincoln a fool, an ass, a hypocrite, or a combination of them all? or is this speech -- this supposed -- this fraudulent speech -- a lie?""

I think this entry should at least be moved to the 'disputed' section. N_J

Both may be, and one must be, wrong[edit]

What about adding something of the following:

In a note to himself dated September 1862, Lincoln wrote the following:

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true -- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.

This fragment was found and preserved by John Hay, one of President Lincoln's White House secretaries, who said it was "not written to be seen of men." Since Hyes' discovery, it has been subsequently titled, "Meditation on the Divine Will", and has been cited in various places. These include, I think, Ken Burns's The Civil War. DavidMCEddy (talk) 23:21, 4 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Baler or Basler[edit]

"edited by Roy P. Baler, Rutgers University Press, 1953, Vol. V, p. 371" - I think this is missing an S in the middle. -- 19:43, 18 June 2020 (UTC)-- 19:43, 18 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today VARIATION[edit]

There is a variation of this quote "The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day." found in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Notes for a Law Lecture." Pritchie45 (talk) 16:19, 5 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lincoln's sourced quote is just an old saying, so it isn't notable in any way. It is much weaker and much more general than the attributed quote, so the latter can hardly be called a variation of the former. Zgystardst (talk) 17:34, 6 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I gather you are okay with the quote appearing on the page (as a misattribution). But you object to it being called a "variant." Do I have that right? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 20:00, 7 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. Just for the record, we're really discussing the meaning of "variant". To me, a variant is a something with a few word substitutions or slight rephrasing. This so-called variant is far different, in wording as well as added meaning. Calling this a "variant" makes it as much a direct variant of the old saying as it is of Lincoln's sourced quote. In addition, this usage makes the term so general that it would apply to countless other quotes on different subjects by different authors, becoming a practically worthless term. I've given my reasons for not calling it a "variant". What are yours for calling it that? Zgystardst (talk) 15:55, 9 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm willing to accept your definition. Still, I think it makes sense to associate the two quotes for the benefit of those who land on this page while searching for the misattribution. Sort of a "he didn't say that but he did say this, which is somewhat similar" heads up. What do you think about moving the misattribution to a sub-note under the actual quote with a "compare this misattribution" intro? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 22:58, 9 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No. You can't actually document a connection with Lincoln. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be trying very hard to get people to associate the misattributed quote with Lincoln for flimsy reasons, and I'd like to know why. Like me, almost everyone knows the old saying and can see the very tenuous connection. 'Sort of a "he didn't say that but he did say this, which is somewhat similar"'. "Sort of"? "Somewhat"? Not "somewhat" but actually "similar only in an extremely vague and general way". This is, in my opinion, nowhere near justification for claiming a link. Zgystardst (talk) 00:24, 11 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for your offer to correct you if you are wrong. You are wrong. I'm not trying to associate anything with Lincoln. The problem is that others have already done that with the "escape responsivity" quote. Hence, we agree - at least I think we agree - that the quote deserves to be "associated" with Lincoln here only insofar as is necessary to debunk any actual connection. Where we disagree is on how to do that. Which brings me to the outdent below. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 02:57, 11 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me be clearer. My objection is not about association. Anybody can do that anywhere, right or wrong, supported or unsupported. My objection is that you are apparently attempting to support an existing unsupported association with a stronger but dubious claim that the attributed quote is a variant.Zgystardst (talk) 18:04, 11 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
[Sigh.] I say "I'm not trying to associate ..." You reply "you are apparently attempting to support an ... association." I give up. You are free to believe about me and my motivations whatever you care to. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 05:34, 12 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Consider diligence, to which I've just added the Lincoln quote. What is your opinion about adding the "escape responsibility" quote (sourced to "Anonymous") to that page?
If you like, I have no objection to sourcing it there to "Abraham Lincoln (attributed in [book of quotes])". (But in this current article I'm leaning slightly toward adding "not found in any of Lincoln's writings" or the like.) It's the claim of "variant" that I object to. Zgystardst (talk) 18:04, 11 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I propose "Anonymous" and you counter with "Lincoln." Who is the associator now, my friend? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 05:34, 12 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It occurs to me that the "escape responsibility" quote probably doesn't belong on the Lincoln main page at all. See Wikiquote:Sourced_and_Unsourced_sections#Unsourced. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 05:34, 12 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

God on Our Side[edit]

I have kept this quote in my head, which is attributed to Lincoln, but I don't find it on this page. The quote goes something like this. "I don't claim that God is on my side. Rather, I pray that I am on God's side." I love the quote, but I don't know if it was Lincoln who said it, and I can't find a source. Google has many variations of it, (all attributed to Lincoln) like "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right." But none of them give a source. Does anyone know if this quote is real, and can it be documented? MiguelMunoz (talk) 21:10, 13 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]