The quote has been misconstrued from an 1838 Abraham Lincoln speech, according to fact-checking services

By Benjamin VanHoose
August 27, 2020 10:21 AM
Advertisement
Lara Trump speaking Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, misused an adage that's been wrongfully attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

On Wednesday, Lara, 37, spoke at the Republican National Convention, addressing supporters with a speech that defended the first family's character and touted the president's professional relationships with women. During the speech, however, she used a viral Lincoln quote that historians have specified the 16th president never said.

"Abraham Lincoln once famously said: 'America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves,'" Lara claimed in her speech. "While those words were spoken over 150 years ago, never have they been more relevant."

The made-up quote circulated social media last summer in a meme as a way to attack the "Squad" of Democrats: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. Trump, 74, also attributed the quote to Lincoln in an April 2015 tweet.

Fact-checking site Snopes debunked it, finding that it paraphrased an 1838 speech. The researchers found that the most likely original source from which the quote is misconstrued reads: "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

PolitiFact also found that the politically charged meme is an incorrect direct quote, noting that the sentiment is close to Lincoln's original message.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Lara is a senior adviser on the Trump 2020 campaign and former Inside Edition producer who married Trump's middle son, Eric Trump, in 2014. "Never in a million years did I think that I would be on this stage tonight and I certainly never thought I'd end up with the last name Trump," said Lara.

In her speech that largely reflected the Trump administration's common defenses of the controversial president, while also striking a more personal tone than other speakers this week, Lara warned Republican supporters of "distorted news" while describing Trump as a champion of women.

She did not mention, however, her father-in-law's history of sexist and racist attack on his rivals and those who displease him and a history of coarse language epitomized by the notorious 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about touching women's genitals.

"Any preconceived notion I had of this family disappeared immediately,” Lara said Wednesday, remembering the first time she met the Trumps before she married Eric, 36. The couple married in 2014 at the Trumps’ Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida after dating for six years. They have two children together.

RELATED VIDEO: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' First Joint Interview: 'Audacity' of Partnering & Their 'Modern Family' Values

Lara added that she sees the Trump family as "warm and caring" and "down to earth" and that they remind her of her own relatives.

"Walking the halls of the Trump organization, I saw the same family environment," she said. "I also saw the countless women executives who thrived there year after year. Gender didn't matter; what mattered was the ability to get the job done."

The president's daughter-in-law said she learned that lesson herself when she joined Trump's 2016 campaign to help him win North Carolina, her home state. “Though I had no political experience, he believed in me," she said. "He knew I was capable, even if I didn’t.”