He also did not say:
• "The strength of the nation lies in the homes of its people."
• "To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men."
• "There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There's nothing good in war except its ending."
• "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.''
Who says Lincoln didn't say any of these famous quotes long attributed to him? The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, that's who. It's on a quest to expose the truth about our 16th president in the name of intellectual and scholarly honesty. Lincoln may have said a lot in his time--things we still hear today on everything from lighthearted TV commercial jingles to serious speeches by public officials--but he didn't say all the things that are credited to him, reports The Associated Press.
"It's simply Lincoln's own status as a cultural exemplar that make these spurious quotations seem credible," Rodney Davis, co-director of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College in Galesburg, explained to AP. "He seems to provide validation for just about anything anybody wants to have validated, and if you can't find a Lincoln quote, you make one up."
So where did these quotes come from, if not from President Lincoln?
"You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."
This was thought to be part of a speech Lincoln gave in September 1858 in Clinton, Illinois, but the line is not included in the text that was printed in the local newspaper. It was attributed to Lincoln in 1910 when two people remembered hearing him say it in 1856--54 years later.
"The strength of the nation lies in the homes of its people."
This is widely quoted on the Web sites of homebuilders and real estate agents, but Lincoln never uttered it. However, in August 1928, President Herbert Hoover said something close: "The foundation of American life rests upon the home and the family."
To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men."
This was credited to Lincoln by Douglas MacArthur in a 1950 speech after his release as commander of the United Nations forces in Korea. It is actually a line from a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There's nothing good in war except its ending."
This was said by an actor playing Abraham Lincoln in an episode of "Star Trek." Lincoln himself never said this.
"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.''
These are three of the famous "Ten Cannots" with which Lincoln has been incorrectly credited even as recently as 1992 when President Ronald Reagan quoted these lines in a speech before the Republican National Convention. Who did write the "Ten Cannots"? The Rev. William J.H. Boetcker, a Presbyterian clergyman, wrote those words in 1916.