Page Three: These Quotes Are Famous, But Are They Real?
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Field of Dreams

Misquote: “If you build it, they will come.”
The line from the movie is actually “If you build it, he will come.” Referring to a baseball field and long dead much maligned baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson.


Muhammad Ali
Real: "I am the greatest."
And he was!!!

George Foreman
Real: "Put your name on something, it better be the best."
Put your name on something, it better be the best . . . you only get one shot: George Foreman, great boxer, gentleman, and grill salesman.

John F. Kennedy

Real: "And so, my Fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for you country."
Excerpt from the John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20,1961.

John F. Kennedy
Real: "Mankind must put an end to war
, or war will put an end to mankind."
From an address to the UN General Assembly, September 25, 1961.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Real: "We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Real: "And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream . . . I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character . . . I have a dream today!"
Excerpt from the Martin Luther King, Jr. "I have a Dream" speech," August 28, 1963.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Real: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Eleanor Roosevelt
Real: "Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness."

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Real: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

The quote (referring to the Great Depression) is taken from Roosevelt's first inaugural address, March 4, 1933: So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is . . . fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance: It was a beginning!

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Real: "A date which will live in infamy."
The quote refers to December 7, 1941, and the sneak attack by the Empire of Japan on the United States at Pearl Harbor.
The following day America declared war, patriotism reborn, the slogan "Remember December 7th" a rallying cry.

Oscar Wilde

Real: "Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt
Real: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
The aforementioned words, a linchpin of Roosevelt's foreign policy, would eventually manifest themselves in the Great White Fleet and its epic voyage. Though ostensibly a showcase of goodwill (naval courtesy calls were not uncommon in the nineteenth century) the underlying reason for the deployment of such a large force of modern warships was clear: The United States had come of age and was not to be trifled with.

Kurt Vonnegut
Real: “Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.”

Will Rogers
Real: “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.”

Neville Chamberlain
Real: "I believe it is peace for our time."
Spoken by a jubilant Chamberlain, following a meeting with Adolf Hitler, September 30, !938. (Appeasement as a policy proved ineffectual, however, and the United Kingdom and France were obligated [by treaty] to declare war on Germany following its invasion of Poland less than a year later.)

Winston Churchill
Real: "We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the hills; we shall never surrender."
Winston in his element: The quote from a speech preparing the British people for invasion without admitting the possibility of defeat.

Winston Churchill

Real: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Winston at his best: The quote from a speech extolling the heroism of RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain (originally "Never in the history of mankind . . ." it was changed when someone pointed out the contribution of Jesus and his disciples).

Winston Churchill
Real: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Winston Churchill

Real: “Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”

Winston Churchill
Real: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Julius Caesar

Real: "I came, I saw, I conquered."
The words sent in a letter to the Senate following a quick Roman victory at the battle of Zela, 47 BCE.

Julius Caesar
Possible misquote: "The die is cast."
Plutarch reports the words were "Let the die be cast," Suetonius "The die has been cast," as the phrase uttered by Caesar as he crossed the Rubicon river, January of 49 BCE, an army at his back in contravention of Roman Law. The phrase has been used many times since as an indicator that events have passed a point of no return.

Julius Caesar

Possible misattribution: [1] "Et tu, Brute?" 
The question "Et tu, Brute?" Latin for "and you, Brutus?" or "you too, Brutus?" [2] is said to have been asked by Caesar of his protege and friend Marcus Junius Brutus at the moment of his assassination. There is no proof of this, however, and in fact historians Plutarch and Suetonius both maintained Caesar, after at first resisting the conspirators, fell silent resigned to his fate.

P.T. Barnum
Misattribution: "There's a sucker born every minute."
Barnum's biographer, Arthur H. Saxon, after attempting, unsuccessfully, to track down when Barnum uttered the phrase stated: "There's no (verifiable) contemporary account of it . . . Barnum was just not the type to disparage his patrons." Aside from Barnum the saying has been attributed to the likes of saloon owner Michael Cassius McDonald and confidence man Hungry Joe Lewis, and referred to, in general, as a catch-phrase among gamblers. An earlier form of the phrase
"That there vash von fool born every minute" can be found in the January 1806 edition of The European Magazine in an article titled Essay on False Genius.


[1] Misattribution means to attribute incorrectly: Famous people (especially men) tend to get notable sayings attributed to them. In the case of Et tu, Brute? its popularity stems from its occurrence in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (circa 1599), where it forms the first part of a macaronic line: "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!"                                        

[2] Caesar's words have also been interpreted to mean "Your turn next" a prophetic foretelling of Brutus' own not so pleasant passing.




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