The “Ten Cannots” by Abraham Lincoln

by BPE Lawyer Steve Beede

On a recent trip, I came across a poster in a store entitled,”Ten Cannots by Abraham Lincoln.” As I read the poster, I was struck by how important these principals remain in our world today –regardless of one’s political persuasion. In this week of giving thanks, we hope that you and your loved ones may find some inspiration in the words of one of our Nation’s greatest leaders.

On this day, let us also pause to remember another President, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on this date in 1963, and whose words took us to the moon and inspired us to be better people and a better nation.

1.     You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

2.     You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

3.     You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.

4.     You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

5.     You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

6.     You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.

7.     You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

8.     You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

9.     You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.

10.    And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.


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This article is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be taken as legal advice. Every case requires review of specific facts and history, and a formal agreement for service. Please feel free to contact us if you need legal advice and are interested in seeing if we can help you.