William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962) was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States as a young man. He became an ordained minister soon after his arrival in America and became known for his eloquent and inspiring speaking style and words. Many consider him to be the forerunner for today’s motivational speakers and coaches.
In 1916 he published a pamphlet titled The Ten Cannots. I wish I had about a thousand of these to pass out today. I wish public schools would teach these. They are frequently attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but in reality, they are Rev. Boetcker’s words, and I reprint them here.
- You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
- You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
- You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
- You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
- You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
- You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
- You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
- You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
- You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
- And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.