Obama's Faulty Lincoln QuoteThe Bachmann Awards
Barack Obama addressing a joint session of Congress in 2009. Credit: Pete Souza.
Barack Obama, in what was surely neither the first nor the last time in his political career, invoked Abraham Lincoln in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. "While I'm proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'"
The only problem is that there's no firm documentation that Lincoln said the quote. It was attributed to him by a reporter in 1865, but there's a long track record of Lincoln's final year being distorted by eyewitnesses. James M. Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Lincoln presidential library in Springfield, Illinois, wrote in the Daily Beast that Lincoln only ever uttered the word "knees" (the plural) four times in his entire public career, and there is absolutely no record of him ever saying the singular "knee."
Still, considering the fact that so many of Lincoln's pithiest one-liners are off-hand comments that are poorly sourced ("The Lord prefers common-looking people -- that is why he made so many of them" springs to mind; he made the remark to his secretary John Hay, where it appeared in Hay's memoir in 1890), and that political speechwriting is decidedly not the same as a PhD dissertation, Barack Obama's Lincoln misquote gets One Bachmann.
comments powered by Disqus
- Letters collection offers unique gimplse into ordeal of Australian aborigines
- War, More Than ISIS, Is Destroying Syria's Ancient Sites
- Pew Poll: Trust in government is at historic lows
- If "The Donald" Said It Happened, It Happened! And Don't You Forget It!
- Solved: the mystery of Britain’s Bronze Age mummies
- Anne Frank Faced Challenges Similar to Syrian Refugees, Richard Breitman Says
- Douglass North, Nobel Prize-winning economics historian, dies at 95
- Craig Shirley says Ted Cruz is right and the Huffington Post wrong about Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Presidential Campaign
- Mystery at Notre Dame: A priest-historian has been forced to back off a project promoting authentic Catholic education
- William & Mary launching a gay history project