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Quotable Quotes: Lincoln Steffens

by Miki Saxon

I read a review about a new Lincoln Steffens biography and it was interesting enough that I looked for quotes and added (as usual) my own interpretation.

There’s been a lot of discussion on the value of college, mostly as a result of the recession. Steffens thoughts are from long ago, but they certainly resonate today, “It is possible to get an education at a university. It has been done; not often”

I puzzled over this one and finally decided that there is one incorrect word. “Somebody must take a chance. The monkeys who became men, and the monkeys who didn’t are still jumping around in trees making faces at the monkeys who did.” To make sense it should read, “Somebody must take a chance. Some monkeys became men, and the monkeys who didn’t are still jumping around in trees making faces at the monkeys who did.” Or, if it was rewritten for today’s entrepreneurial media frenzy, it might read, “Somebody must take a chance. Some people became entrepreneurs, and the people who didn’t are still jumping around in trees making faces at the people who did.”

Did you know that Steffens is responsible for the truism, “Nothing fails like success?”

He also said, “Power is what men seek and any group that gets it will abuse it.” Totally accurate, but these days it should read ‘any group or individual‘.

But when all is said and done, remember, “Morality is only moral when it is voluntary.”

Wikimedia Commons image credit: Rockwood, New York, New York [Public domain]

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