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   Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations.  1989.
 
 
NUMBER:731
AUTHOR:Abraham Lincoln (1809–65)
QUOTATION:Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope, would you shake the cable, or keep shouting out to him—“Blondin, stand up a little straighter—Blondin, stoop a little more—go a little faster—lean a little more to the north—lean a little more to the south?” No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over. The Government are carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Don’t badger them. Keep silence, and we’ll get you safe across.
ATTRIBUTION:President ABRAHAM LINCOLN, reply to critics of his administration, 1864.—Francis B. Carpenter, “Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln” in Henry Jarvis Raymond, The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln…, p. 752 (1865).

  Carpenter, a portrait artist, lived in the White House for six months beginning February 1864, to paint the president and the entire Cabinet. His relations with the president became of an “intimate character,” and he was permitted “the freedom of his private office at almost all hours,… privileged to see and know more of his daily life” than most people. He states that he “endeavored to embrace only those [anecdotes] which bear the marks of authenticity. Many … I myself heard the President relate; others were communicated to me by persons who either heard or took part in them” (p. 725).

  Blondin (real name Jean François Gravelet) was a French tightrope walker who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 1855, 1859, and 1860.
SUBJECTS:Government
WORKS:Abraham Lincoln Collection
 
 
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