The Russ Belville Show

Will old-timey 1920’s newsprint convince you?

Throughout the internet there are those among us who try to bolster the case for marijuana legalization by quoting the Founding Fathers.  While it is true that many of our founders were colonial farmers who grew hemp among their crops, the evidence for use of cannabis for smoking like it is used today is scant.  Hashish was known, of course, and Jefferson and Franklin, among others, were known to visit Europe and partake in the party scene of the day.  Later 19th century presidents like Madison and Monroe admitted smoking hemp or hashish, while Jackson, Taylor, and Pierce were known to have smoked Mexican marihuana while fighting alongside their troops in the Southwest.

It was Col. John E. Goodwin who fabricated the Lincoln Prohibition quote, in the Conservatory with the Candle Stick!

There are plenty of legitimate quotes from our Founding Fathers on the resourcefulness of hemp and perhaps evidence they had smoked it.  George Washington wrote “Make the most of the Indian Hemp Seed and sow it everywhere!”  He also remarked about “The artificial preparation of hemp, from Silesia, is really a curiosity,” which could be about hashish from an area now in Poland.  He famously “…began to separate the male from the female (hemp) plants,” which may have been done to get females for smoking.  John Adams wrote, “We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.”  Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.”

But the following three quotes have been debunked so thoroughly that it destroys the credibility of any pro-pot reformer who still uses them.  So potheads, please stop using them!

FAKE: “Some of my finest hours have been spent sitting on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” – Thomas Jefferson

I first saw this one appear on a title card of the DVD Totally Baked.  So I went to find the attribution for it, because Jefferson is one of the most prolific of the Founders and his every letter and essay and book has been archived and studied and cataloged.  Yet this “veranda” quote is nowhere to be found (

FAKE: “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.” – Abraham Lincoln

This Honest Abe quote claims to be from a letter dated 1855 found at the German harmonica manufacturer’s museum.  That means Abe Lincoln or Hohner had a time machine, because Hohner didn’t ship harmonicas from Germany to the United States until 1857.  Plus, the Hohner Museum had no record of any such letter (

FAKE: “Prohibition… goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded” – Abraham Lincoln

This was a fabrication created by the former Mayor of Atlanta in 1922 during the campaigns for and against alcohol prohibition in Georgia.  The Mayor, campaigning for the “wets” (drinkers), faked the quote to win the black vote (

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  • berniemakaveli

    During the American Civil War Matthias Hohner gave harmonicas to family members in the United States who in turn gave them to the fighting soldiers.” Per Wikipedia, so it’s far more than fresible Lincoln had one when the quote was dated. You really think with how ignorant America is on their pot stance that they wouldn’t try and erase physical evidence that arguably their greatest president loved to smoke the wonderful herb? Keep dreaming. America’s greatest president smoked marijuana. Deal with it :)

    • Mark Elron

      Gosh no, that was “hemp,” which the DEA says is the same thing as marijuana…because it IS…and Reefer Madness was put on hold during WWII so the Hemp For Victory campaign wouldn’t throw farmers in jail…then they had to burn the crops at the end of the war…and smoke all the rope, right? “They walked around the wheel house once….” -Jamie Brockett; The Legend of The Titanic.

    • THEFred

      It’s a fictitious quote. Deal with it.

      • Jason Stainkamp

        it is probably real because whether or not the company shipped harmonicas is irrelevant, the pres had the money and power to go out and buy one himself.

        if you have big money you can order anything from anyone…some musicians have called a company to courier a specific product and because the company recognizes the name, they send it over no problem. not to say lincoln was a musician, but come on ceo’s of companies had to know presidents some how.

    • Jason Stainkamp

      Also not to mention the other presidents have been known to visit other countries…Lincoln may have just as well bought one directly…and lets not for get the anti-marijuana campaign is largely corporate.

  • Violet Ghanazzi

    It is very likely that those who oppose smoking hemp so strongly have never, ever, smoked it, and so became arbitrary and capricious against its use, blindly, and as many of them exclaimed having “zero tolerance” for smokers, it created guilt and shame for those who enjoy it. however faulty and illogical humans against it are dying out and new generations shall be seen on Capitol Hill grounds placidly smoking hemp ‘blunts’ on the Capitol’s veranda, looking out as far as their eyes can see..!!! go ahead illogical hardliners: please die soon!!!! let the world follow Lennon and Morley’s doctrines for world peace… the Caribbean people who oppose its use in Miami are fortunately dying out. be aware those same folks were subjected to a 50 years-plus dictator. they could never get rid of him, stupidly and cowardly picking on Americans instead, rather than fix their own mess on that island..! bunch of stupid people who were originally all born in “San Nicolas Del Peladero”. on that bloody isle.. who come on local Radio Mambi to utter stupid opinions through their vast ignorance. ha ha ha, most of those folks are in their late eighties..! please die, die, die… SOON! very, very, soon! thank you.

  • Rob Stray

    @ae4da1f050d91511771f3f1331c6ea57:disqus – The War Betwen the States wasn’t fought until 1861-1865, the quote was supposedly quoted in 1855, so the harmonicas wouldn’t be around for another 6 years. Still, as far as Thomas jefferson is concerned, as genius as the man wasi t is highly unlikely that with as much horticultural knowledge that he had that he was unaware of the properties of the female cannabis planet, especially since hashish was well known by this time, and TJ and many of the others were known to be partiers in the european social scene of the day…so ya, probably got baked once or twice…

    • Sutton Bull

      Just because Hohner didn’t ship harmonicas until later does not mean that this is the only means by which Abe could have had one. The author of this websites argument for the Lincoln quote proves NOTHING.

      • Oliver Steinberg

        Don’t cling to discredited mythology. Radical Russ is correct; there are plenty of good debunking sources on the internet which establish that he is correct. We don’t need to repeat falsehoods in order to support our cause. in fact, we weaken our side’s arguments when we do that. I have been a public advocate for ending prohibition and legalizing cannabis (and everything else) since 1968; I have spent thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of hours, and four decades of my life in this cause. There are no shortcuts to freedom, and if we expect to win we should expect to have to work to get there.

        But we’re part of a great historic tradition of freedom fighters, and there plenty of authentic quotations we can invoke–inspiring words, fiery rhetoric, brilliant epigrams, incisive witticisms, keen satires–like Mark Twain’s “Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples’ habits.”

        Or what Thomas Jefferson really DID say: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others,” and “The greatest service that can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to its culture,” and “A single zealot may commence persecution, and better men be his victims.” Read T.J.’s “Scheme for a system of agricultural societies:” —-“. . . the cultivation of our primary staples of wheat, tobacco, and hemp, for market.” He recommended replacing tobacco cultivation with hemp and flax. Thomas Paine, a friend of Jefferson and ardent patriot, mentioned hemp in his pamphlet “Common Sense,” as an essential naval resource: “Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage.”
        WE DON’T NEED TO INVENT QUOTES or to use fake ones. Yes, I myself used the quote attributed to Lincoln, but my brother knew Abe’s speeches better than I, and he questioned it; then Chris Wright researched it BEFORE THE INTERNET and he found out from the nation’s top Lincoln scholars that the quote was not authentic. So, we simply use it without saying it was Lincoln’s–it stands up just fine on its own strength and logic.
        Want real quotations? Look for them. How about John Adams, Founding Father and second President: “Sumptuary laws bring all laws into contempt because they are never obeyed.” English philosopher John Stuart Mill: “Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”
        There are many more. Our enemies say that “marijuana makes people lazy and stupid.” Don’t prove them right. Take responsibility for what you think and say and do; be honest and accurate.

        I am a little dismayed that so many commenters want to cling to their delusions and insist on believing misinformation . . . but then, that’s all too common a trait in human nature, as Josh Billings once put it: “The trouble with most folks isn’t so much their ignorance, as knowing so many things that ain’t so.”
        By the way, you may have heard that Josh Billings quote attributed to Mark Twain. Probably the three persons who are most often quoted [in English and American culture] as saying things that they didn’t say, or that someone else actually said or wrote, are Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Twain.

    • BringBackBeHeadings

      you would have to get a little high to declare war on the largest empire on Earth and expect to win!!

      • Oliver Steinberg

        Or as I once heard the Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton say, “I am too proletarian-intoxicated to be astronomically intimidated! You can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution!” . . . . within two months, the police murdered him in his sleep.

    • Maliheim

      As for you….

      Asians were off banging rudimentary harmonicas together (At roughly 3000 B.C.), the rest of the world didn’t really have a clue until centuries later.

      Europe finally got on the scene at or about 1822, when a German teenager made something that looked pretty much like a harmonica, but it only produced music when you blow in it, and not when you draw air back through.

      In 1857, another German named Matthias Hohner, who was a (disgruntled, most likely) clock maker from the Black Forest (all those cuckoo clocks are bound to drive you crazy eventually), invented the modern-day harmonica, which featured the dual-action reeds that earlier models lacked.

      So he could have had one before 1855 especially since 1861 ( When you said they would be around ) isn’t even a date that were introduced in any way shape or form.

  • James Smith

    some of the greatest minds in the history of our species smoked pot, minds that changed the destiny of human kind

  • Ollie Steinberg

    There is no need to use inauthentic sources or inaccurate information to promote our cause, and there is a definite need to try to be correct and truthful in our advocacy. We don’t want to be the mirror image of the prohibitionists with their reefer madness lies. If the on-looker, the bystander, the “audience” so to speak, begins to see that we speak the truth and the other side lies, then it works in our favor. Of course, the spurious “prohibition” quote (that Lincoln didn’t say) is still an excellent statement of the issue and we should use it–only don’t claim that Old Abe said it. Whenever you come across information you intend to repeat, try to verify it first. A little skepticism early in the process can save embarrassment later.

  • Maliheim

    I absolutely love when I run into people trying to disprove truths because they don’t agree with something. Why don’t you check their Harvest notes? They specifically separated seeds that they found to be more potent for recreational use. There is not a source for every single quote we have from past generations. Things are lost, things are destroyed, and some things withstand the test of time through words alone. Of course you will probably aim to call me a liar, or a fool. That is to be expected of people like you. After all you are a “radical” and you have an entire section of your website dedicated to making sure everyone knows that this is “fake.” That kind of bigotry is irreversible.

  • HempShare

    One only need to understand our Ancestors had full consciousness and technology has usurped this from “modern man” to realize THC is indeed the de-programmer. We are nearly assimilated into the borg.

  • DdC222

    Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by The Russ Belville Show.

  • DdC222

    Censorship russ? That is how you win debates?

  • Angeni Kaya

    To think we know everything that happened centuries ago would be arrogant on our part…But America has proved its arrogance in so many ways…..Considering the rackets this Government has shoved down our throats since it was settled ..How in the world do you know they DIDNT” qoute these particular quotes??..there is always two sides to every story…or theory for that matter..

  • Angeni Kaya

    So they say its not found in any text anywhere??….Doesnt mean it didnt happen!…Like I said..we would prove our arrogance by even denying the fact if it was quoted…Just like all the other so called “theories’..This is the beauty of “critical thinking”…Assume nothing…Question everything!!