FACT CHECK: Did Winston Churchill Say, ‘Success Is Not Final; Failure Is Not Fatal: It Is The Courage To Continue That Counts’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller News Foundation found no record of Churchill ever saying or writing the expression.

Fact Check:

The internet is replete with inspirational quotes attributed to Churchill. Yet, while the statesman is eminently quotable, there’s no evidence he ever actually said this quote about success and failure. (RELATED: Did Winston Churchill Say This Quote About Getting Older?)

The DCNF didn’t find any record of it in the Churchill Archives, an online database containing around 800,000 original documents related to the statesman. In fact, a quick internet search revealed that the International Churchill Society has identified it and a thematically related statement as falsely attributed to Churchill.

“We can find no attribution for either one of these and you will find that they are broadly attributed to Winston Churchill,” reads the International Churchill Society website. “They are found nowhere in his canon, however. An almost equal number of sources found online credit these sayings to Abraham Lincoln – but we have found none that provides any attribution in the Lincoln Archives.”

Richard Langworth, a senior fellow at the Hillsdale College Churchill Project, also addressed the “phony ‘success’ quotes” on his website.

“These pop up by the dozens every day,” Langworth wrote. “While included in some poorly researched quote books, neither can be found among Churchill’s 50 million published books, articles, speeches and papers; and words about him by close colleagues.”

The website Quote Investigator found the earliest close match in a 1938 Budweiser print advertisement that ran in numerous newspapers. However, elements of the expression have appeared since at least 1905, according to Quote Investigator.

“Men with the spirit of youth pioneered our America … men with vision and sturdy confidence,” reads the ad. “They found contentment in the thrill of action, knowing that success was never final and failure never fatal. It was courage that counted.”

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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