FACT CHECK: Did John Quincy Adams Pen This Quote On Leadership?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

The Facebook page Prestige Home Care Agency shared an image claiming that former President John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Adams ever wrote or said this phrase. The quote appears to have originated with singer Dolly Parton in the 1990s.

Fact Check:

While former presidents often leave behind in their writings plenty of quotable material, this “Wednesday Wisdom” shared by the Facebook page cannot be attributed to the nation’s sixth president. President Donald Trump has also previously cited Adams as the author of the quote.

Such an expression does not appear in the digital collection of Adams’ diary or in the writings of Adams compiled by the Hathi Trust.

Fred Kaplan, who wrote a biography of Adams, told The Daily Caller in an email that “it reads like a statement totally at variance with his language & views.”

The Massachusetts Historical Society, which curates Adams’ papers, confirmed to the Caller that it has fact-checked this quote as false in the past. It provided a list of actual quotations from Adams, which includes statements such as, “A politician in this country must be the man of a party. I would fain be the man of my whole country.”

Other variations of the quote in question attribute it to country music star Parton, which appears likely.

Parton contributed her thoughts to the 1997 book “The Most Important Thing I Know,” where she said, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

She wrote a 2013 book called “Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You,” which was an expansion on her 2009 commencement address at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In that commencement address, Parton said that she wanted the graduates to “dream more, learn more, care more and be more.”

Football player Peyton Manning included a similar version of the quote in a speech he gave in 1998, according to the website Quote Investigator, though he did not take credit or offer attribution.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter

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