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Things Lincoln never said - LincolnMan - 08-08-2012 09:40 PM

The list of statements attributed Lincoln is worth a study on its own. Most recently President Obama quoted Lincoln as saying: "Here I stand--warts and all." The only problem is that the statement was never made by Lincoln. What other quotes are out there that are incorrectly attributed to Lincoln?

RE: Things Lincoln never said - Karen S. Campbell - 08-08-2012 11:35 PM

I know of three Lincoln misquotes.

"I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have." ~ misquote by Ronald Reagan.

""You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich." ~ another misquote by Ronald Reagan.
It's actually a quote of William Boetcker, a late 19th c. minister.

"Corporations have been enthroned. An era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed." ~ dates from late 19th c.

RE: Things Lincoln never said - RJNorton - 08-09-2012 05:08 AM

I have a web page devoted to this topic here.

That is a list I have spent a good amount of time researching over the past 16 years and never found legitimate sources for.

If anyone has corrections/additions/subtractions/sources/ I would love to hear from you!

I use the "Dr. Thomas Schwartz" method of researching quotes: (paraphrased from a post he once made on ALO)

(1) If it's not in the Collected Works that is Strike One.
(2) If it's also not in the Fehrenbachers' book that is Strike Two.
(3) If it's also not in any of the other books cited on that web page that is usually Strike Three.

Most of the quotes in Shaw's encyclopedia are accurate, but he does include some dubious ones.

RE: Things Lincoln never said - LincolnMan - 08-09-2012 06:53 AM

Most of the statements attributed to Lincoln (that he didn't make) don't even sound like Lincoln-if you know what I mean. Remember the Bixby letter controversy. Roger, what's the latest thinking on the Bixby letter? Do you believe it to be by Lincoln?

RE: Things Lincoln never said - Hess1865 - 08-09-2012 07:16 AM

From what I've read about the Bixby letter, I think John Hay wrote it
We'll probably never really know-another of many Lincoln mysteries....

RE: Things Lincoln never said - RJNorton - 08-09-2012 07:36 AM

Great question! Personally I do not know, and the arguments on both sides seem convincing. From the ALO website, Michael Burlingame answers (regarding Hay being the author):

"The overwhelming evidence points to that. Hay told half a dozen people that he wrote it. He pasted a copy of it into a scrapbook of his own writing. He used words like "beguile" and "assuage" regularly in it, which never showed up in Lincoln's writings. When you put all that together it seems virtually irrefutable that Hay was the author and Lincoln signed it. It's a beautiful letter, but it just doesn't sound like Lincoln; it's not Lincoln's "voice."

It was written at an extremely busy time at the White House. A fellow in New York who was the head of the Lincoln-Johnson committee in the 1864 campaign writes in mid-November to say they were having a banquet and wanted Lincoln to write a toast. Hay writes back and says that Lincoln really wanted to write the toast instead of having me do it but the crush of business around here is so great he just didn't have a chance. This was right at the time the Bixby letter was written.

On the same day the Bixby letter was written, a letter is written to John Phillips, a centenarian in Massachuetts who voted for Lincoln. A copy of that, too, is pasted into John Hay's scrapbook. It was the sort of thing you would expect a secretary to write. Lincoln did write very moving letters of condolence -- to the parents of Elmer Ellsworth and to Fanny McCullough, but those letters have a very different feeling, stylistic pattern, and tone from the Bixby letter."


On the other hand Jason Emerson, a member here, writes (regarding Robert Lincoln's belief that his dad was the author):

"On February 24, 1917, Robert Lincoln wrote to historian Isaac Markens:

"I think I have not acknowledged your letter of February 20th in regard to the Bixby letter. Your suggestion that neither Nicolay nor Hay probably had any special knowledge of the letter at the time is correct. Hay himself told me so; when I took the matter up Nicolay had died and it was he who had compiled the collection of papers. It is entirely possible that neither of them knew of the letter at all; my father had no letter books and copies of his letters and documents were only made in special cases, many such copies being in the papers I now have, mostly drafts in his own hand; it is entirely possible that my father wrote this letter at his desk, folded it, addressed it and gave it to General [William] Schouler [adjutant general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts] without anybody else about him knowing of it."

The letters prove that not only did Robert Lincoln believe his father had written the Bixby letter, but John Hay himself told Robert he'd had nothing to do with it. What's amazing about this letter is its statement that the man purported to be the author of the letter told his best friend -and his hero's son-that he had no knowledge of it when it was written."

RE: Things Lincoln never said - LincolnMan - 08-09-2012 07:37 AM

And there are so many... I think I recall that the word "assuage" is a bit of a problem for many-as used in the letter. Not a Lincoln word-it is claimed,

RE: Things Lincoln never said - RJNorton - 08-09-2012 07:43 AM

Point well-taken, Bill. There is no record that I know of that Lincoln ever used that word in any other letter, speech, etc. A check of the Collected Works indicates the Bixy Letter is the one and only time it's used.

RE: Things Lincoln never said - LincolnMan - 08-09-2012 09:10 AM

Thanks for verifying that non-use of the word by Lincoln!

Boy, that Robert Todd connection really muddles things up!

RE: Things Lincoln never said - Gene C - 08-09-2012 09:19 AM

I take it, there is no original copy of the letter, so handwriting can't be compared?
The original would be a treasured item, if it were sent to me or a family member.
If it were real, would you throw it away or misplace it?

RE: Things Lincoln never said - Rob Wick - 08-09-2012 09:52 AM


The problem is Lydia Bixby hated Lincoln. Tradition relates that she had moved from Richmond to Boston, but continued to support the Confederacy. If that's true, she likely burned it.


RE: Things Lincoln never said - LincolnMan - 08-09-2012 10:45 AM

Good one Rob!

RE: Things Lincoln never said - RJNorton - 08-09-2012 10:47 AM

Agreed, Rob. Her grandson was once interviewed, and he admitted his grandmother was not the type of person who would have appreciated the value of such a letter and most likely just destroyed it.

RE: Things Lincoln never said - Hess1865 - 09-03-2012 08:15 PM

And Lincoln never said about Grant, "Find me what kind 0f whisky he drinks and I'll send a case to all my other generals!"
Even Lincoln denied saying it, yet it is repeated to this day

RE: Things Lincoln never said - LincolnMan - 09-04-2012 05:25 PM

This "quote" by Lincoln was sent to my blog yesterday: “Thousands of emotions well up inside me throughout the day. They are released when I dance.”

Have any of you come across that one before-or is it old news?