“Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.” –
This honest Abe quote commonly appears in articles, books and web sites against prohibition of all kinds, thus warranting a reference check. Several different versions of this famous Abraham Lincoln quote exist today, including numerous variations on the text, date and reference location. My research into the source of this famous Lincoln quote has pointed to it being a fabrication. Although numerous publications exist clamming it was a fabrication, oddly enough, Internet sites almost exclusively represent it as being a true quote.
The publication that provided me with the most complete references regarding its fabrication was a 1934 publication entitled, Lincoln And Liquor, by William Townsend. Unfortunately, he did not provide the key citations in their entirety. Townsend mentioned popular newspaper names like, “The Voice” & “The American Issue”, without including a city and state for their publication (p.50). With the help of Jefferson Counties Public Libraries ILL Department, dozens of reference checks were sent out all over the country until the correct editions were located.
After several years of searching for the Lincoln prohibition quote, using leads of all kinds, I can now provide a list of relevant articles pointing to its fabrication, all with complete and accurate references.
The Lincoln Quote Research
An Infamous Rum Forgery – The Voice, New York Edition, January 19, 1888, pg. 3. (JPG image includes a reproduction of the original circular).
More on Local Option – Edwardsville Intelligencer, Edwardsville, Illinois – Saturday, March 28, 1908, pg. 4.
Authorship of Anti-Prohibition Screed Credited to Lincoln Is Admitted by Georgia Wet Leader – The American Issue – Pennsylvania Edition, Westerville, Ohio, July 22, 1922, pg. 2.
AN ADDRESS, Delivered before the Springfield Washington Temperance Society, on the 22d February, 1842- BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN, ESQ. and published by the direction of the society. Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, Pg. 1, March 25, 1842. Abraham Lincoln’s views on temperance are expressed in this document.
AGED DENVERITE GIVES VIVID LIFE PICTURE OF ‘ABE’ LINCOLN, Denver Post, Denver, Colorado, Feb. 8, 1927, pg. 13. Several years after compiling my initial Abraham Lincoln research, while conducting a completely different reference search, I happened upon this interesting first-hand account of Lincoln selling alcohol at his store.