Where did this Abraham Lincoln quote come from?
September 9, 2010 11:01 AM   Subscribe

There's a great quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." What is the back-story behind this quote? What is its source?
posted by excitementMD to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to say it's apocryphal. It's quoted here and there as something Lincoln said to a hotel waiter who had brought him a beverage. But it doesn't appear in any well-sourced Lincoln biographies. Lots of stories, jokes or clever quotations had a way of getting associated with Lincoln, because it gave the quotation greater value, not because Lincoln actually said it. Yogi Berra has the same problem.
posted by beagle at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2010

This article in the New York Times of Jan. 18, 1953, attributes the quote to an anonymous customer:
The British attitude toward coffee—that it is a substitute for tea—was epitomized in a brief comment by a customer to a waiter recorded in Punch: "If this is coffee, bring me some tea. But if it's tea, bring me some coffee."
posted by Knappster at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2010

I know this is kind of late but here's the Punch cartoon.
posted by interplanetjanet at 4:08 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

But it's an old joke. Here it is told as an amusing anecdote in 1853 by Mr. Dawes of Adams at the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention. (I think that's Henry Laurens Dawes) He tells it like it's an old joke even then.
posted by interplanetjanet at 4:22 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

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