“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.” (Abe Lincoln)


Next to the Gettysburg Address, this is my favorite quote from Abe Lincoln. This should be posted in the halls of Congress. Sadly, it seems, no one in Washington or the media seems to believe it. The foolish things being said these days must have Lincoln spinning in his grave. The man died for his principles and his country. I think it would sadden him greatly to see the number of complete fools who pass themselves off as Congressmen today.

I made the mistake of watching some special order speeches on C-SPAN recently and it pretty much destroyed any hopes I had that maybe Congress has a clue. Special order speeches aren’t even allowed for in the House rules yet they have “evolved” as a means for any Congressman to remove all doubt about their foolishness. I would sooner watch an hour of some Congressman reading the Constitution to himself or even better reading one of the House bills that they talk about so much. It really kills me to hear Congressmen talk about not having enough time to read a whole bill but yet they have time to give special order speeches about nothing. These people are addicted to microphones, cameras and media attention. Passing important legislation only happens when it doesn’t interrupt their 15 minutes of fame. We have to do better than this or else we are in serious trouble. Leadership isn’t about self-aggrandizement, it’s about selflessness and showing others the way. Lincoln understood that better than anybody.

Maybe Lincoln was made that way by his circumstances at the time. It doesn’t get much worse than a Civil War. I’m not sure we’re all that far from a similar crisis now. The party line division has become so strong and so vindictive that it feels like an uncivil war is being waged in the media every day. We must come together to save our country. Pettiness and retribution are completely counterproductive and should not be part of any governmental body at any level. Lincoln recognized the great sacrifice made by thousands of men during the war and it humbled him. It also gave him the courage to do what was right without regard for his own fame or fortune. His words should be required reading for every member of Congress and should be the basis for every action taken there. This part of the Gettysburg Address is even more relevant today than it was then.

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The freedom we enjoy now was given to us by the sacrifices of those who came before us. That alone should make us want to honor their memories and leave a better world for the next generation. Citizenship is a responsibility that cannot be taken for granted. We owe it to our grandparents and our grandchildren to improve the quality of life for  everybody.  We may never learn to love each other but we must learn to live with each other.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 Responses to “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.” (Abe Lincoln)

  1. MisfitRoxx says:

    Lincoln never said it.
    Maurice Switzer, an author did in 1906.

    • grhgraph says:

      I have rechecked the six different sources I use for my quotes. None of them listed Maurice Switzer as the originator of this quote. If it wasn’t Lincoln who said it first, then Samuel Johnson should probably get the credit. I never claimed to be an authority on quotations and who said them has never been the object of my writing but feel free to contact all of the online quotation sources and make your point with them. If Maurice Switzer should get credit then more power to you but until I see it from multiple sources I will stick with what I have now. Good luck just the same.

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