What Abraham Lincoln Said About the #Occupy Movement ...150 Years Ago Today
Your Republican friends have almost certainty seen a quote from Abraham Lincoln that reads:
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.
This quote has recently experienced a revival in popularity as a criticism of the #Occupy movement. It has been widely distributed through viral emails, and has been posted on numerous right-wing web sites and even on FaceBook.
And it's completely FALSE.
These words have no connection with Abraham Lincoln other than that they're erroneously attributed to him.
Here's what Abraham Lincoln actually did say, 150 years ago today, in his State of the Union address to Congress at the beginning of the Civil War:
"It is not needed, nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effect to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor... Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
Even in 1861 the forces of wealth and power [capital] sought to exert a disproportionate influence on government. Abraham thought this point was so important that he included it in his first State of the Union address at the beginning of the Civil War.