Leave Feedback

BLOG: Honest Abe admits, 'I didn't write it'

Tom Jackson • Oct 4, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Thursday's paper (8-29) has a letter to the editor from Ronald Kaufman of Sandusky, which features a series of aphorisms that you've probably read before, e.g.:

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

And so on. Kaufman wrote that the author was Abraham Lincoln.

"Many years ago, I clipped the above quotation from this paper and framed it to hang on my wall to guide me through life," Kaufman wrote.

Actually, it wasn't Lincoln who said those things. It was the Rev. William John Henry Boetcker, a Presbyterian minister and public speaker you've likely never heard of. Almost as good, huh?

Boetcker came up with the sayings in 1916, according to this debunking article on Snopes.com. More here.

If you've never gotten an email of the "You cannot" maxims attributed to Lincoln, you may have gotten one containing the "Wear sunscreen" commencement address that Kurt Vonnegut gave at MIT.

Vonnegut didn't write that, either. A Chicago newspaper columnist named Mary Schmich did. You can read her column here.

Recommended for You