By Mark Hallum
The Queens Village Republican Club held its annual Lincoln Dinner on Sunday night, honoring the president who freed the slaves for the 142nd year in a row. But a set of quotes falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln himself managed to find its way into an address delivered to the hundreds in attendance by City Council candidate Joseph Concannon.
The list of 10 guidelines recited by Concannon has been printed on a gold page with the headline “Abraham Lincoln’s Ten Guidelines” and featured in a booklet produced by the Queens Village Republican Club for about 15 years, Concannon said.
But it turns out, the guidelines were penned by the Rev. William John Henry Boetcker around 1916 and not the 16th president, The list titled “The Ten Cannots” by most accounts itemizes a series of philosophies on social change. According to Snopes, PolitiFact and other fact-checking websites, it is unclear when Boetcker’s work was confused with the words of Lincoln. But Edward Steers wrote in his book, “Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with our Greatest President,” that the confusion may have started when “The Ten Cannots” was printed on the back of a leaflet about Lincoln and not attributed to Boetcker.
The American Presidency Project, a website run by two professors at UC Santa Barbara who digitize and catalogue the contemporary work of every American president in history in an easy-to-use database, shows no record of the “The Ten Cannots.”
“You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer,” Concannon recited before the attendees gathered Sunday in the ballroom of Antuns at 96-43 Springfield Blvd. “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich… You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred… And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.”
When questioned about the validity of the quote, Concannon did not dispute its authenticity and was struck by the notion it could be false. He said the list of guidelines are at the very heart of what Queens Village Republicans believe and adhere to regardless of whether or not Lincoln was the originator of the words.
“This is who are,” Concannon said. “We subscribe to this. This isn’t something we pulled out of the Lincoln archives. It’s been in our journal for about 15 years. So the origin of it at this point we really don’t know, but it is who we are and it’s what we feel passionately about — the principles of our party and who believe we are today.”
Among the speakers and attendees were Republican candidates for mayor of New York, Paul Massey, a real estate executive; former player for the New York Jets Michel Faulkner; and Gristedes Foods CEO John Catsimatidis.
Bob Holden, the president of the Juniper Park Civic Association and a leader in the fight against the use of hotels as homeless shelters, was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Queens Village Republicans despite the fact he is a longtime Democrat. Holden made headlines last year fighting the Maspeth Holiday Inn homeless shelter and his opposition to Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth), who lost her re-election bid after a lack of involvement on the issue.
“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, if you don’t do right by the neighborhood, we’re not going to get along,” Holden said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall