FACT CHECK: Did Abraham Lincoln Say, ‘It’s Not The Years In Your Life That Count. It’s The Life In Your Years’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

A Facebook post claims that President Abraham Lincoln once said, “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Verdict: False

The saying does not appear in any of Lincoln’s written works.

Fact Check:

Many web pages that post memorable quotes attribute this saying to Lincoln, but The Daily Caller News Foundation found no evidence that he ever made this statement. It does not appear in his collected works(RELATED: Did Abraham Lincoln Say, ‘The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It’?)

The saying is also sometimes attributed to United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson II. According to the website Quote Investigator, he used a similar expression in a couple of speeches during the 1950s.

“This quote is often misappropriated to Lincoln,” says Daniel Worthington, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, in an email to TheDCNF. “It actually comes from an advertisement in the Chicago newspaper from 1947.”

Indeed, the closest match for the saying appears in an advertisement for Edward Stieglitz’s book on aging in a 1947 edition of the Chicago Tribune, though Quote Investigator found numerous variations of the expression in print as early as 1889.

Harold Holzer, a leading scholar on the 16th president, also described the quote as apocryphal.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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