Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, holding power from 1861 to 1865.

‘Best way to predict your future’ quote has no link to Lincoln

September 16, 2019

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post from July 10, 2019 by Becoming Minimalist Australia which features a quote purporting to be from former US president Abraham Lincoln.

A Facebook post from July 10, 2019, features a quote purporting to be from former US president Abraham Lincoln.

The quote is: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”.

Becoming Minimalist Australia has more than 7400 followers. The page’s stated aim is to “share with like minded people the joy of simplicity”.

The post has been shared more than 50 times and attracted more than 130 reactions and two comments. 

The Analysis

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, holding power from 1861 to 1865. He  oversaw the prosecution of the American Civil War and freed the nation’s slaves. Lincoln’s second term as president ended upon his assassination and death in Washington on April 14, 1865. 

The purported Lincoln quote was debunked after Illinois Governor Bruce Runner used it during an address on cutting taxes and boosting spending in 2018. Runner used the quote to illustrate his point and was corrected by several experts on Lincoln.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum said there was no evidence of Lincoln saying those words. Library and museum spokesman Chris Wills said: “The quote about creating the future has been attributed to Lincoln for decades, and while there is no hard proof he ever said it, the sentiment certainly matches other things president Lincoln is documented to have said”. 

The co-director of Lincoln Studies Center in Galesburg, Rodney Davis, told the Illinois Public Media website willradio.tv.online that he did not recognise the quote. 

 A spokesperson for Governor Runner later acknowledged the quote was not by Lincoln and said “next time, we will certainly check with Lincoln scholars!”

Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and former chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, told AAP FactCheck in an email that the quote’s origins were not from Lincoln. Holzer is co-chairman of The Lincoln Forum and has written numerous books on the former president, including The Annotated Lincoln (2016), President Lincoln Assassinated! (2015) and Lincoln: How Abraham Lincoln Ended Slavery in America (2013). 

The quote’s origin has been variously attributed to two Nobel Prize winners, Ilya Prigogine and Dennis Gabor and to US management consultant and author Peter Drucker. Gabor, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1971, wrote in his 1963 book, Inventing the Future: “The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.” Prigogne said: “The way to cope with the future is to create it” and Drucker has been widely credited with saying: “You cannot predict the future, but you can create it.” Drucker’s quote came from his book, Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern Management (2009)

The Verdict 

Based on the evidence above, AAP FactCheck found the quote about predicting your future to be misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.  A Lincoln academic confirmed to AAP FactCheck the quote is not by him and two other experts also say there is no evidence he uttered those words. 

False – The Facebook post is false.

* AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 First published September 16, 2019, 16:58 AEST

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