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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Abraham Lincoln (1809–65)
QUOTATION: You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.
ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to ABRAHAM LINCOLN.—Alexander K. McClure, “Abe” Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, p. 184 (1904).

Many quotation books have also attributed this to Lincoln, and the sources given have varied. According to Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 3, p. 81 (1953), “Tradition has come to attribute to the Clinton [Illinois] speeches [September 2, 1858] one of Lincoln’s most famous utterances—‘You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’” But he goes on to say that the epigram and any references to it have not been located in surviving Lincoln documents.

This remark has also been attributed to P. T. Barnum.