In the age of social media and the internet, it's a well-known fact that you should take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt. Lara Trump, President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, learned that the hard way after delivering a speech during the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, during which she credited former President Abraham Lincoln for a quote he never said.
"Abraham Lincoln once famously said: 'America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves,'" Trump said in her speech. "While those words were spoken over 150 years ago, never have they been more relevant."
Although that quote may seem relevant, some historians and fact-checkers would have to disagree, as Lincoln never uttered those exact words. The words Trump quoted are actually from a post that circulated on social media platforms, such as Goodreads and Facebook, in 2019. It was meant as an attack on the "Squad" or the group of young rising Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, who have been the frequent target of the president.
According to both PolitiFact and Snopes, which debunked the post, the quote isn't entirely off the mark, as it is paraphrased from a speech the former president delivered in 1838. Snopes reported that the section "paraphrases and distills a concept he expressed in an 1838 speech in Springfield, Ill., without distorting the meaning or sense of the original," though the outlet noted Lincoln had never uttered that exact phrase. During that speech, Lincoln asked the crowd, "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide."
Michael Burlingame, a chair in Lincoln studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, meanwhile, told PolitiFact that Lincoln "was denouncing mob violence which would lead to chaos, provoking the public to demand law and order, which would be provided by an ambitious leader who would rule tyrannically."
Fortunately for Trump, she is not the only member of the Trump family to incorrectly attribute this quote to Lincoln. In April of 2015, before he ever stepped foot in the White House, the president had tweeted the passage, which he attributed to "A. Lincoln."