“You Can Fool All of the People”, Lincoln Never Said That

By Thomas F. Schwartz

Undoubtedly the most famous utterance ever attributed to Lincoln is, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Early recollections place the saying in an 1858 speech Lincoln delivered in Clinton, Illinois. The first appeared in 1904 by E. E. Pierson, who remembered Lewis Campbell, a respected citizen of DeWitt County, telling him of the 1858 speeches that Lincoln and Douglas delivered in Clinton. According to Campbell, Lincoln said, “Judge Douglas cannot fool the people: you may fool people for a time; you can fool a part of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

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