FACT CHECK: Did Abraham Lincoln Coin This Saying About Roses And Thorns?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A Facebook post credits former President Abraham Lincoln with saying, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Verdict: False

The saying appears nowhere in Lincoln’s writings.

Fact Check:

As the 16th president, Lincoln wrote and delivered numerous statements that are frequently quoted on the internet. However, the Daily Caller News Foundation found no evidence that Lincoln ever said this expression, which has been attributed to him since at least 2003. (RELATED: Did Abraham Lincoln Say, ‘It’s Not The Years In Your Life That Count. It’s The Life In Your Years’?)

“I could find no evidence of Lincoln having made this comment in our database,” said Daniel Worthington, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, in an email to the DCNF. “Probably mis-attributed to him.”

Indeed, the DCNF searched the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s digital archive for the words “thorn bushes” but turned up no results. The saying does not appear in Lincoln’s collected works at the University of Michigan either.

Abraham Lincoln Association Editor and Secretary James Cornelius also told the DCNF via email that he did not recognize the expression, saying, “I have never heard of it in doing Lincoln research/cataloguing since 1997.”

The quote may actually have originated with French journalist and author Alphonse Karr, according to the website Quote Investigator. A variation of the saying appears in his 1853 book “Lettres Écrites De Mon Jardin,” where he writes, “You complain about seeing thorny rose bushes; me, I rejoice and give thanks to the gods that thorns have roses.”

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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