Alexander Hamilton? Gordon A. Eadie? Irene Dunne? Peter Marshall? Theodore DeVries? william Sloane Coffin Jr.? Alex Hamilton? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: there is a popular exhortative statement the employs the difference words “stand” and “fall”. Right here are three versions:

(1) If you don’t stand for something, you’ll loss for anything.(2) Those who stand because that nothing autumn for anything.(3) as soon as you stand for nothing, you loss for everything.

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This adage is attributed to Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and others. Can you explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: An amazing precursor for the saying appeared in a Methodist church announcement in an Iowa newspaper native 1926. The word order and definition were distinct, however the keywords were the same. In 1927 the exact same precursor was printed as a “Sermonogram” in one Ohio newspaper: 1 2

It is simpler to autumn for anything 보다 to was standing for something.

Thanks come Andrew Steinberg for locating and also sharing these nascent citations.

The earliest proof of close complement known to QI was published in the January 1945 worry of a journal called “Mental Hygiene”. At the time of publication people War II to be still gift fought. The adage appeared in an post by the medical doctor Gordon A. Eadie titled “The Over-All Mental-Health demands of the commercial Plant, v Special referral to war Veterans”. Boldface has been included to excerpts: 3

We space trying to present him not just what we space fighting against, yet what we are fighting for. So many of this boys have actually only a very hazy idea that the real issues of the war. Around all they view is “going earlier to the an excellent old days.” This is a danger state. If lock don’t stand for something, castle will fall for anything. They need to realize that we are fighting 2 wars—the war of arms and also the war of ideas—that other war of i beg your pardon the war of arms is one phase.

The essential reference work “The thesaurus of modern Proverbs” indigenous Yale college Press has an entry for this adage and also points to the same journal and year for its earliest citation. 4

Although the saying to be employed by Gordon A. Eadie it is no clear whether he crafted it. A couple of months later on the adage was talked by the popular film actress Irene Dunne during a radio transfer as suggested below. QI believes the it is reasonable come categorize this expression together an anonymous contemporary proverb.

The typical attribution to the eighteenth-century statesman Alexander Hamilton to be probably based on a mistaken expertise of a relatively modern-day citation. A different man named Alex Hamilton who was a british broadcaster used the saying in 1978. Details room given more below.

Here are extr selected citations in chronological order.

In might 1945 the movie star Irene Dunne participated in a radio program called “Town conference of the Air” according to “Radio Life Weekly” magazine, and she speak a version of the saying: 5

Before three thousand interested spectators, Irene Dunne, Eddie Cantor, will certainly Durant and also Rev. J. Herbert Smith carried the “Town meeting of the Air” to Los Angeles v a bang—or have to we say a clang….

Miss Dunne capably summed up the affirmative through stating the “If we don’t was standing for something, we’ll loss for anything.”

In July 1945 the mass-circulation “Reader’s Digest” released the saying together a quick freestanding item and credited the words to Dunne. “Reader’s Digest” functioned as an essential locus for the popularization of quotations: 6

If us don’t was standing for something, we will loss for anything.— Irene Dunne ~ above America’s city Meeting of the Air

In November 1945 a newspaper in Canton, new York printed a quick announcement about a church service. The expression was supplied as the location of a sermon by Theodore DeVries: 7

The Presbyterian Church. Rev. Theodore DeVries minister. Church organization at 10:30. Sermon topic. “If us Don’t was standing For Something, We fall For Anything”. Church institution at 11:40.

Also in November another pastor called A.J. Whitney provided an circumstances of the saying as a sermon title as taped in a Cooperstown, brand-new York newspaper: 8

Pastor, Rev. A.J. Whitney “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll be sure to autumn for anything.”Wednesday, November 28: Weekly prayer meeting at the parsonage at 8 p.m.

In 1946 an Albany, brand-new York newspaper reported on a conference of the national Woman’s Party with around 50 attendees. An instance of the adage to be mentioned: 9

Miss grace Reavy said as a slogan for the group, “Unless you stand for something, you’ll autumn for anything.”

At the start of legislature sessions in the U.S. Senate a daily prayer is typically offered by the Senate Chaplain. Top top April 18, 1947 Chaplain Peter Marshall speak the complying with words: 10

Our Father, us yearn because that a far better understanding of spirituality things, that we may understand surely what Thy will is because that us and for ours Nation. Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we was standing for something, we shall fall for anything.

The above valuable citation was provided in the landmark referral “Respectfully Quoted: A thesaurus of Quotations asked for from the Congressional research Service”, and also today the saying is occasionally ascribed to Peter Marshall; however, the 1945 citations reveal that the expression was currently in circulation prior to 1947. 11

In 1948 “The Rotarian” magazine published an excerpt indigenous a speech given at a rotary club that described the declare by the Senate Chaplain despite the phrasing presented differed indigenous the initial prayer: 12

It is something choose the existing chaplain that the Senate said freshly in one of his moving prayers at the recent special session, “Lord, aid us to stand for something, due to the fact that a guy who means nothing will autumn for anything.”—From a rotary Club address.

In 1968 Evan Esar’s huge compendium “20,000 Quips and also Quotes” presented two variants of the statement: 13

(1) Some world stand for nothing since they autumn for everything. (2) The people who loss for every little thing probably stand for nothing.

In 1973 “Time” magazine printed the remarks of tranquility activist and clergyman william Sloane Coffin Jr. That recounted the advice that he gave to an undergraduate: 14

My line to him regarding so countless students in the 1950s was: ‘You’re a nice guy yet not yet a good man. If you don’t was standing for something, you’re apt to autumn for nothing!’

A version of the speak was had in the “Oxford essential Quotations” database the the “Oxford recommendation Online” system. The words were attributed to a british writer and broadcaster named Alex Hamilton whose birth day was stated as 1936: 15

Those that stand because that nothing autumn for anything.‘Born Old’ (radio broadcast), in Listener 9 November 1978

The 1978 citation date highlighted the distinction between Alex Hamilton and the U.S. Starting father Alexander Hamilton, but confusion has persisted and incorrect attributions have actually been frequent.

In 1990 a letter was printed in “SPIN” magazine from bill Finley who operated for an additional magazine dubbed “In these Times”: 16

To paraphrase Gil Scot-Heron’s grandmother’s words: If friend don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

In conclusion, QI to trust this speak is a modern-day proverb with unknown authorship. A precursor remained in circulation through 1926, and also the earliest recognized close match arisen in an post by Gordon A. Eadie in 1945. Hence, some might wish to credit Eadie. Yet, antedatings are feasible in the future. Actress Irene Dunne assisted to popularize the expression v her radio appearance and also the reprinted quotation in “Reader’s Digest”.

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Image Notes: Irene Dunne from the film Love Affairs. Publicly domain picture From Wikimedia Commons. Blue figures from Nemo top top Pixabay.

(Great thanks to Sharif Faizullah and Bubbanotbad Drevik who inquires urged QI to build this question and also perform this exploration. Special thanks to Andrew Steinberg because that the 1926 cite.)