I plead the 5th! Truths, Lies and a not-so-honest Abe.
A President’s Day Quiz

—Andrew Schocket

We celebrate Presidents’ Day this year in the midst of presidential primary campaign season, a season in which not only has nearly every candidate disavowed previous political positions, but some have insisted that they never said things they said.

As it turns out, that’s a very defensible presidential position: of the many presidential quotations circulating the internet, a shockingly large proportion were never actually written or uttered by the men to whom they’re attributed.

Accordingly, as a public service, I offer this quiz.

Real quote of current candidate, or fake quotation of real president circulating in print or on the internet? Answers below.

1. “Freedom is never granted. It is earned by each generation.”

A. Real Hillary Clinton
B. Fake John Adams

2. “We had quitters during the Revolution too…we called them ‘Kentuckians.'”

A. Real Donald Trump
B. Fake George Washington

3.  “God bless America.”

A. Real John Kasich
B. Fake George Washington

4. “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

A. Real Marco Rubio
B. Fake Thomas Jefferson

5. “Corporations have been enthroned. An era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.”

A. Real Bernie Sanders
B. Fake Abraham Lincoln

6. “The great thing about the American Christian is he would rather die on his feet than live on his knees.”

A. Real Ted Cruz
B. Fake George Washington

7. “The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the constitution.”

A. Jeb! Bush
B. Fake Thomas Jefferson

Bonus! “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

A. Real Rand Paul
B. Fake Thomas Jefferson



Answer Key
1. Real Clinton.
2. Much as this sounds like the Donald, George Washington said this… on The Simpsons.
3. Kasich, yes; George, no. This staple of every candidate’s speeches is a newfangled innovation.
4. Some people think Jefferson said it. Not quite. They’ve got the wrong president.
5. Abe didn’t say this, honest.
6. Fake as GW’s teeth. Here’s an example.
7. Maybe Jeb’s said it, but Thomas Jefferson never did.
Bonus: Both!

Andrew M. Schocket is Director of American Culture Studies and Associate Professor of History and American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University (OH). He is the author of Fighting over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution (NYU Press, 2015).

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