Lincoln’s Greatest Quotes Part II


A lot of Lincoln quotations that you read on the Internet and even in legitimate quotation books are bogus.

Creating Abraham Lincoln quotes has been a cottage industry for decades. The motives vary. Fabulous sayings grow up around any famous figure almost spontaneously. A person will think of a clever way to say something but may think it immodest to claim it himself, or he perhaps will think that it will sound more impressive if it’s palmed off as a Lincoln quote.

Sometimes the bogus Lincoln quote arises out of carelessness. It’s a well-known quote, and somebody said it, so why not Lincoln? Or Churchill, or Benjamin Franklin, or Shakespeare?

Lincoln’s name has been deliberately attached to some quotations for political purposes in order to try to give weight to a particular ideology. Some of the quotations below fall in that category.

If you are a writer or public speaker, don’t be careless with Lincoln quotations.   There are too many people out there who know what Lincoln said and did not say, and they will call you out.  And that may  be pretty embarrassing.  Incidentally, every Lincoln quotation in “The Words Lincoln Lived By” as been triple-checked and then evaluated by Lincoln experts.  It is an inexpensive purchase.  You can find other certified Lincoln quotations at our sister websites– and

–Gene Griessman, Ph.D. author “The Words Lincoln Lived By”


Lincoln did Not say…

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

There is no record that Lincoln ever made this statement. He suffered from severe depression himself and no doubt understood that this illness often requires more than just thinking happy thoughts. We now know that professional care and medical treatment often are required.

Lincoln did Not say…

“Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.”

This quote is the creation of J. Michael Waller for an article that he wrote for Insight magazine (Dec. 23, 2003) and was repeated by Diana Irey in her unsuccessful campaign against Rep. John Murtha, a critic of the Iraq War. The “Lincoln quote” was picked up by the media and repeated thousands of times on the Internet. Waller, in a response to claimed that he did not intend it to be a quote at all but a copy editor mistakenly put quotations around it. The quote does not even have face validity; Lincoln vigorously opposed the Mexican War when he was a Congressman.

Ten Cannots That Lincoln Did Not Write:

“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.”

“You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.”

“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.”

“You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.”

“You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.”

“You cannot establish security on borrowed money.”

“You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.”

“You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

This “Lincoln quote” was written by Reverend William J.H. Boetcker in the early 20th century. It has been reprinted in a column by Ann Landers, quoted in a speech by Ronald Reagan, and has been read into the Congressional Record. The words may or may not be true, but one thing is true. Abraham Lincoln had nothing to do with writing or saying them.

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Don’t just read Lincoln quotes.  Listen to them as read by Gene Griessman.
Free samples from the audio book “Lincoln’s Wisdom.”  You’ll think you’re listening to Lincoln himself.

Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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