Speed Reads

RNC 2020

That 'famous' Lincoln quote in Lara Trump's RNC speech? He never said it.

As Albert Einstein once notably stated, "The problem with quotes you find on the internet is they are often untrue."

Lara Trump, President Trump's daughter-in-law, learned that the hard way on Wednesday night. During her speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump declared that Abraham Lincoln "once famously said, 'America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.'"

Last year, a Facebook meme crediting Lincoln with that statement went viral in right-wing circles, but both PolitiFact and Snopes have debunked it. Lincoln historian Christian McWhirter said this is a "corruption" of something Lincoln said about "the perpetuation of our political institutions" during a speech delivered in Springfield, Illinois, on Jan. 27, 1838.

Lincoln asked the crowd, "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

It turns out, Lincoln's words actually are eerily relevant today. Michael Burlingame of the University of Illinois Springfield explained to PolitiFact that Lincoln was "denouncing mob violence which would lead to chaos, provoking the public to demand law and order, which would be provided by an ambitious leader who would rule tyrannically."