FACT CHECK: Did Abraham Lincoln Say, ‘To Sin By Silence When They Should Protest, Makes Cowards Of Men’?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook credits President Abraham Lincoln with saying, “To sin by silence when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”

Verdict: False

This statement does not appear in any of Lincoln’s writings. It actually comes from a poem written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Fact Check:

Lincoln served as president during the Civil War and is credited with helping abolish slavery in the country.

Though the Facebook post attributes the quote to Lincoln, there is no record of him saying it. The statement does not appear anywhere in his collected works. (RELATED: Did Abraham Lincoln Say, ‘It’s Not The Years In Your Life That Count. It’s The Life In Your Years’?)

“I don’t believe Lincoln said it,” Georgetown University historian Dr. Chandra Manning told The Daily Caller via email. “He very rarely used the word ‘sin’ and when he did, he used it as a noun, not a verb.”

According to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, the statement actually comes from a poem written by Wilcox. It appears in the first few lines of her 1914 poem “Protest.” (The wording differs slightly.)

The quote, included on the library’s “Lincoln Never Said That” list, has been falsely attributed to Lincoln since at least the 1950s, when General Douglas MacArthur incorrectly ascribed it to him in a speech to the Massachusetts Legislature.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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