A History Lesson for Huckabee: I Don't Think Lincoln Said That

I'm pretty sure Abraham Lincoln didn't make that comment about the dangers of big government.

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ST. PAUL—One sign of a historic figure's greatness is the quotations that are incorrectly attributed to him. Take Abraham Lincoln. Speaking to the Republican National Convention this evening, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee attributed to Lincoln the sentiment that a government big enough to give you anything you want is also big enough to take everything you have.

It's a great quote...but I'm pretty sure it's not Lincoln's.

This much I know as a certainty: Gerald Ford said it on August 12, 1974 in his first address to a joint session of Congress.

I did a few Google searches to see if Lincoln said it first. I found many attributions of the quotation (in one phrasing or another) to Thomas Jefferson, a few to Barry Goldwater, and even one or two to Davey Crockett. But so far as I can tell, Huckabee's the only one to ascribe it to Lincoln.

I could be wrong—we are dealing with the Internet after all, but I do know something about presidential quotations. Anyway, if you've got an authoritative citation, post it in the comments section below.