When he rolled out the Republican Party’s first official platform to Congress in years, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy aptly summoned the GOP’s venerable father: Abraham Lincoln.
at the top of the A message to Republican lawmakers And thanking them for their contributions to the “Commitment to America” - the policy agenda they launched near Pittsburgh on Friday – McCarthy included a quote attributed to Lincoln.
“Commitment,” as the quote states, “is what turns a promise into a reality.”
For McCarthy’s purposes, it’s a perfect message. There is only one problem: there is no record showing that Lincoln actually said that.
The quote often appears on social media or inspirational websites attributed to Lincoln. But a review of historical records by The Daily Beast revealed no evidence of when and where the beloved president said those words.
Christian MacWireter, a historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, said he found “no credible evidence” that Lincoln ever said those words. “It does not appear in his writing and I cannot find it remembered by any of his contemporaries,” McWherter told The Daily Beast.
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to questions about how to determine the source of the quote.
Perhaps what got this phrase into the public’s bloodstream was not Lincoln, but Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street giant that collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis.
In 1986, Lehman Brothers placed a full-page advertisement in a file The Wall Street Journal Thanks to its staff who have spent so much time. At the top of the page is the full quote attributed in some places online to Lincoln.
“Commitment is what turns a promise into a reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And actions that speak louder than words. They make the time when there is nothing. It passes time after time after time, year after year after year.”
“Commitment is the character things are made of; the power to change things. It is a daily victory of integrity over doubt.”
Although McWhirter found that the quote itself in 1984 was not attributable to Lincoln, Lehman’s advertisement appears to have been a major source of the quote’s spread, as it was referred to by witnesses in congressional hearings—while conveying it to the Lehman Brothers—and trade magazines that cited it. At some point, Honest Abe will probably be credited with thinking about it.
“It seems that it wasn’t attributed to Lincoln until the advent of the Internet and people started to attribute it to Lincoln, which is common in some false Lincoln quotes,” MacWarter said.
On the Internet, there is a small epidemic of wise quotes falsely attributed to leaders and presidents of the United States. Although there is no shortage of wise words that Lincoln actually said, he is one of the most common victims of this trend.
Rolling out a “Commitment to America” is a major moment for McCarthy, a distant heir to Lincoln’s leadership of the Republican Party. The California Republican, who has led the House Minority Convention since 2019, is the favorite to be House speaker next year should the GOP take over the room, as expected.
The platform is meant to be an updated statement of priorities and a message to voters about what the Republican majority will do. It partly contains the GOP model that has been around for decades on issues such as economics and energy production. Reflecting the party’s midterm priorities, it is also heavy on border security and pro-law enforcement rhetoric, and takes a keen interest in cultural topics such as transgender athletes in schools.
On Friday, McCarthy gathered a select group of Republican Party leaders and ordinary members of Pittsburgh to roll out the podium — including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-G.). The entire House GOP spent the week preparing for the well-coordinated launch.
Lincoln’s fake quote, of course, is a simple speed bump. McCarthy wouldn’t be the first prominent Republican to reject a quote from Lincoln. In 2017, the Republican National Committee tweeted words attributed to Lincoln: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that matter; it’s the life in your years.” (“It didn’t look like Lincolnsk,” NPR benevolently noted in an article at the time.)
And in 2020, Lara Trump, wife of the former president’s son Eric, gave a speech at the Republican convention in which she summoned Lincoln.
“Abraham Lincoln once famously said ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside,’” Lara Trump said. “If we falter and lose our liberties, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves.” Fact-checkers found quickly It wasn’t an actual quote.
Memes have now appeared to warn ardent Lincoln fans to think twice. In one, a black and white photo of Abby was paired with the message: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it” – Abraham Lincoln. “