Quote: You cannot fool all the people all the time (Jacques Abbadie; Prohibitionists)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 8 01:39:13 UTC 2013

A famous adage attributed to Abraham Lincoln was discussed on this
list in 2010 and 2012. Here is the version listed at Wikiquote:

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people
some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the

The earliest currently known strong match for the saying appeared on
July 5, 1886 in the "Springfield Globe-Republic" of Ohio, I believe.
Steve Goranson found this excellent citation. Further below I list
some earlier matches.

The Yale Book of Quotations has an important precursor expression in
French from Denis Diderot in 1754. I've located a nearly identical
statement in 1684 employed by Jacques Abbadie in an influential
treatise of Christian apologetics.

Year: 1684 (MDCLXXXIV),
Title: Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne,
Author: Jacques Abbadie,
Quote Page 11,
Publisher: Chez Reinier Leers, Rotterdam,
(The original text used "tems" instead of "temps" which is given in
the excerpt here)
(Google Books Full View)

[Begin excerpt]
... ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains
lieux & en certains temps, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les
lieux & dans tous les siécles.
[End excerpt]

[Begin translation from YBQ]
One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but
one cannot fool all men in all places and ages.
[End translation]

On September 9, 1885 "The Syracuse Daily Standard" of Syracuse, New
York published an article about a convention of Prohibitionists during
which a speech was delivered by a judge named William. J. Groo who
complained about the actions of state politicians. He spoke a version
of the adage without attribution:

[ref] 1885 September 9, The Syracuse Daily Standard, Prohibitionists
in Arms: The Third Party Declare War  to the Knife on Democrats and
Republicans, Quote Page 4, Column 4, Syracuse, New York. (Old

[Begin excerpt]
You can fool all the people part of the time, or you can fool some
people all the time, but you cannot fool all people all the time.
[End excerpt]

On March 8, 1886 "The Albany Times" of Albany, New York published an
article titled "Prohibitionists Not Fooled" that included an interview
with Fred. F. Wheeler who was the chairman of the prohibition state
committee. Wheeler was in favor of submitting a prohibition amendment
to the general electorate for a vote. He criticized politicians who he
thought were attempting to fool the public and impede the movement
toward such a referendum. In the following excerpt Wheeler attributed
an instance of the adage to Lincoln:

[ref] 1886 March 8, The Albany Times (Albany Evening Times),
Prohibitionists Not Fooled: By Advances of the Republican
Party—Interesting Interview with Chairman Wheeler, Quote Page 3,
Column 4, Albany, New York. (Old Fulton)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
They should remember Abraham Lincoln's famous saying: "You can fool
part of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people
all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time,"
and take their stand boldly and fearlessly on this question and abide
the result at the ballot box.
[End excerpt]

On May 4, 1886 "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle" printed "Coquetting with
Prohibitionists" which consisted of an extended excerpt from "The
Voice" a periodical operated by prohibitionists. A version of the
expression under investigation was credited to Lincoln:

[ref] 1886 May 4, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Coquetting with
Prohibitionists, (Acknowledgement "From the Voice, the Prohibition
Organ"), Quote Page 2, Column 2, Brooklyn, New York. (Old

[Begin excerpt]
But, as Lincoln used to say, you can fool all of the people some of
the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time; but you
can't fool all the people all the time.
[End excerpt]

The text above was also printed on May 5, 2013 in the "The Genesee
Valley Post" of Belmont, New York

[ref] 1886 May 5, The Genesee Valley Post (Belmont Genesee Valley
Post), The Prohibitionists Ask No Favors But Demand Their Rights,
(Acknowledgement to the Voice), Quote Page 2, Column 2, Belmont, New
York. (NewspaperArchive)[/ref]


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