Thursday, May 24, 2018

Famous quotations that never were said

About ten years ago, in May 2008, IPBiz in the post
The urban legend of the Duell quote continues
the fake quote attributed to
Charles H. Duell:

Everything that can be invented has been invented

was debunked.

This quote had infiltrated a number of otherwise reliable sources
[ the Patently-O blog as well as in Joseph Hosteny's article in the May 2005 issue of Intellectual Property Today (pp. 28-29) ]
"Wrong expert prediction" site starts with fake quote of Duell

Recently, someone emailed me a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me, and the financial institutions in the rear. Of the two, the one in my rear is my greatest foe.”

On the internet, this is stated to be from a statement to Congress in 1865.

Of a different version of this concept, Snopes writes

Abraham Lincoln said: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 on the prejudices 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 war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

These words did not originate with Abraham Lincoln, however — they appear in none of his collected writings or speeches, and they did not surface until more than twenty years after his death (and were immediately denounced as a “bold, unflushing forgery” by John Nicolay, Lincoln’s private secretary). This spurious Lincoln warning gained currency during the 1896 presidential election season (when economic policy, particularly the USA’s adherence to the gold standard, was the major campaign issue), and ever since then it has been cited and quoted by innumerable journalists, clergymen, congressmen, and compilers of encyclopedias.

Pedigree for this quote is often asserted by pointing to the 1950 Lincoln Encyclopedia, compiled by Archer H. Shaw, which “authenticates” the quote by citing a purported 1864 letter from Lincoln to one Col. William F. Elkins found in Emanuel Hertz’s 1931 book, Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait.However, this source is fraudulent: the Elkins letter reproduced by Hertz was a forgery, and Shaw, a sloppy compiler, added the bogus letter to his encyclopedia

BUT see Truth or Fiction .

The text is from a purported letter to William F. Elkins dated November 21, 1864.

Whether in late 1864 or in 1865, neither the Southern army nor the banks were much of an enemy to Lincoln. Much effort was placed on securing passage of the 13th Amendment in the House.

Of the financing of the Civil War, see The High Cost of War in Barron's:

It is difficult to track down quotations attributed to people no longer living.
However, even among the living, myths propagate.

Things that weren't actually said, but became myths


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