Lara Trump, daughter-in-law of President Donald Trump and an adviser to his reelection campaign, cited President Abraham Lincoln during her speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night. But she, or whoever wrote her speech, seems to have fallen for a meme rather than history.
“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,’” said Lara Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons.
But Lincoln never said it, famously or otherwise.
Fact-checkers at The New York Times, USA Today and other outlets were quick to point out that while the line was often attributed to Lincoln in Facebook memes, the 16th president never uttered those words. Lincoln did make a similar point during his 1838 Lyceum Address, but the phrasing wasn’t even remotely similar:
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.
Michael Burlingame, a chair in Lincoln studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, told PolitiFact last year that Lincoln’s comments were “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.”
Lincoln is among a number of famous historical figures to whom various quotes are often erroneously attributed, including President Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain and Winston Churchill.
Or, as Yogi Berra once remarked: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”