[Ads-l] Who said: "God must love poor people, he made so many of them?"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 17 20:51:40 UTC 2019

See also Barry Popik's page (though Garson's Dec. 1885 cite slightly
antedates what Barry has):


On Sun, Mar 17, 2019 at 3:54 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>

> One version of the quotation ascribed to Abraham Lincoln occurred in a
> diary entry written by John Hay in 1863. The entry retold a dream that
> Lincoln had experienced. The entry referred to a "common-looking man"
> and "common looking people". It did not refer to "common people" or
> "poor people". The entry was published in 1939 many years after it was
> written. However, versions of the saying with an attribution to
> Lincoln were in circulation by December 1885 according to my
> preliminary search. Also, Hay published a version of the dream
> anecdote by 1890.
> Please double-check the following material for typos and OCR errors.
> [ref] 1972 (1939 Copyright), Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries
> and Letters of John Hay, Selected by Tyler Dennett, Chapter 11, Date:
> December 24, 1863, Quote Page 143, (Originally published in 1939 by
> Dodd, Mead & Company, New York) Negro Universities Press, Westport,
> Connecticut. (Verified with scans) [/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> The President last night had a dream.
> He was in a party of plain people and as it became known who he was
> they began to comment on his appearance. One of them said, “He is a
> very common-looking man.” The President replied, “Common looking
> people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so
> many of them.”
> Waking, he remembered it, and told it as rather a neat thing.
> [End excerpt]
> The section about this quotation in the scholarly "Recollected Words
> of Abraham Lincoln" referred to John Hay's diary entry. The editors
> also noted that versions of the quotation were in circulation by 1903.
> [ref] 1996, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, Compiled and edited
> by Don E. Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher, Section: Alexander
> K. McClure (1828-1909), Quote Page 319, Stanford University Press,
> Stanford, California. (Verified with hardcopy) [/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> More than a decade after he published his recollections without
> mention of it, McClure recalled having heard Lincoln say:
> I have always felt that God must love common people, or he wouldn't
> have made so many of them. —McClure-5, 91 (1904). {C}
> John Hay's diary (Hay-I, 143), which provides the earliest version of
> this remark, had not yet been published in 1903 and thus presumably
> constitutes independent corroboration. The New York Tribune of
> December 20, 1903, printed McClure's story with modifications that
> gave the quotation its classic form:
> "Well, God must love the common people, He's made so many of 'em."
> [End excerpt]
> Hay and a colleague presented a version of the dream anecdote in "The
> Century Magazine" in 1890:
> [ref] 1890 February, The Century Magazine, Abraham Lincoln: A History
> by John G. Nicolay and John Hay  (Private Secretaries to the
> President) (Footnote says copyright by J. G. Nicolay and John Hay,
> 1886), Section: Lincoln's Fame, Start Page 571, Quote Page 573, Column
> 2, The Century Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
> https://books.google.com/books?id=VYxHAQAAMAAJ&q=%22looking+people%22#v=snippet&
> [Begin excerpt]
> One night he had a dream, which he repeated the next morning to the
> writer of these lines, which quaintly illustrates his unpretending and
> kindly democracy. He was in some great assembly; the people made a
> lane to let him pass. "He is a common-looking fellow," some one said.
> Lincoln in his dream turned to his critic and replied, in his Quaker
> phrase, "Friend, the Lord prefers common-looking people: that is why
> he made so many of them."
> [End excerpt]
> William Dean Howells used the phrase "common people" when he
> attributed an instance of the remark to Lincoln in the January 1886
> issue of "Harper's New Monthly Magazine". The issue was available a
> few weeks before the cover date:
> [ref] 1886 January, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Editor's Study (by
> William Dean Howells), Start Page 321, Quote Page 325, Column 1,
> Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
> [/ref]
> https://books.google.com/books?id=Ls0aAAAAYAAJ&q=%22whom+Lincoln%22#v=snippet&
> [Begin excerpt]
> It has always been supposed by grammarians and purists that a language
> can be kept as they find it; but languages, while they live, are
> perpetually changing. God apparently meant them for the common
> people—whom Lincoln believed God liked because He had made so many of
> them; and the common people will use them freely as they use other
> gifts of God.
> [End excerpt]
> As noted above, the January 1886 issue of "Harper's New Monthly
> Magazine" was available a few weeks before its cover date. The passage
> above was reprinted in a Buffalo, New York newspaper in December 1885:
> Date: December 17, 1885
> Newspaper: Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
> Newspaper Location: Buffalo, New York
> Article: Table Talk
> Quote Page 2, Column 2
> Database: Newspapers.com
> The passage in the "Buffalo Commercial Advertiser" was nearly
> identical to the passage in "Harper's New Monthly Magazine". Thus, the
> redundant text is omitted here.
> In January 1886 an Iowa newspaper printed a concise version of the
> "common people" saying ascribed to Lincoln. The citation below was
> located and clipped by Peter Reitan before I started my search.
> Date: January 14, 1886
> Newspaper: The Iowa State Register
> Newspaper Location: Des Moines, Iowa
> Article: Common People
> Quote Page 4, Column 3
> Database: Newspapers.com
> [Begin excerpt]
> Abraham Lincoln said that God must like common people, he made so many
> of them. What a large place In his affections then must our toiling
> millions of hardworking wives and mothers occupy.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson O'Toole
> QuoteInvestigator.com
> On Sun, Mar 17, 2019 at 11:53 AM Mordechai (Morty) Schiller
> <mordechai.schiller at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > It wasn't Abraham Lincoln. Who was it?
> > Thanks,
> > Mordechai Schiller
> >

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