Did Abe Say That?

Abraham Lincoln was a prolific writer and public speaker. And much of the wisdom he shared lives on to this day. However, some of Abe’s most famous quotes might not really be his at all! Do you think you can identify the genuine articles? 

Test Your Abraham Lincoln Knowledge 

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

You’ll often hear this quote during situations in which members of a group are at odds and believe that without unanimous agreement, the group will collapse. It’s appropriate then that these words, drawn from the Bible, were indeed spoken by Lincoln during a campaign speech in which he spoke against slavery.   

Did Abe say it? YES 

Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be. 

This inspiring quote is often offered up as a reminder that we’re the creators of our own happiness. And while Lincoln probably would have supported this notion of personal responsibility, there’s no evidence to suggest he’s the source of the quote. Instead, it’s thought the first appearance of this quote was in a newspaper article about New Year’s resolutions. 

Did Abe say it? NO 

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.” 

There are many who believe, as this quote states, that success comes to those who truly want it, regardless of things like education, opportunity, and circumstances. Apparently Lincoln was one of those believers, because he did indeed write this line in support of an aspiring lawyer. 

Did Abe say it? YES 

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” 

This saying is a wonderful way to remind someone that a person need not hold an important position or carry a fancy title (for example, President of the United States) to be a success. You must simply do your best. Given Lincoln’s humble roots, this quote would certainly be appropriate coming from him. Alas, it likely should be credited to English novelist William Makepeace Thackeray. 

Did Abe say it? NO 

“It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river.” 

Perhaps you’ve heard this quote as “Don’t change horses midstream.” Regardless, the meaning is the same: Don’t make unwise or ill-conceived changes when you’re already facing a challenge. It’s a popular saying among politicians running for reelection. So, it should come as no surprise the saying originated with Lincoln in self-deprecating remarks about his nomination to a second term as President. 

Did Abe say it? YES 

“You can’t fool all the people all the time.” 

More often than not, you’ll hear the longer version of this quote, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” And while this warning about deception is a valid one, it didn’t come from Honest Abe. Rather a version of this quote originated with a French minister and writer. 

Did Abe say it? NO 

“There I grew up.” 

If you visit this area, you’ll likely hear this quote a lot in reference to the 14 years Lincoln lived in Indiana. In fact, a similarly named play, Here I Grew Up, enjoyed a successful run at Lincoln Amphitheatre in 2019. So, we’re happy to say that this quote is indeed genuine! The full quote is featured in a book by William Bartlett: “We reached our new home about the time the State came into the union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals in the woods. There I grew up.” 

Did Abe say it? YES 

More Lincoln Learning 

So … how did you do? If you need to brush up on your Lincoln knowledgecheck out this area’s attractions, sights, and landmarks commemorating his life, including his years in Indiana. 

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