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Why, when, and where did Abraham Lincoln say "What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." ?


Since this is not my area of expertise, I searched Google under the key words "Abraham Lincoln Skunk quote" to get
possible sources. I got over 15 sources listing that quote, but none of them gave the information you wanted.

You can do a similar search yourself extending beyond the ones I surveyed. Sorry that I could not help more. Thanks for asking.

According to this Web site, Lincoln made that statement in a campaign circular in 1843.

Okay, thanks! What exactly does the quote mean?

"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." ?

Skunks are well-known for exuding an awful smell when they are threatened. Lincoln was comparing the bad publicity given to anyone who makes himself wildly unpopular to a skunk.

Umm, sorry, I'm not quite clear of what that means. Can you explain it again, please? I thought it meant that when bad people (politicians mostly) brag about the bad stuff they do, things are going to get bad for them.

Politicians don't brag about bad stuff -- but a few are so crooked and rotten that people think they stink! A good example from recent news is Representative Mark Foley. His political career is killed because of his unethicalness that brought him bad publicity.

So it means that bad politicans get bad publicity? That doesn't seem like much of a quote to me. I liked my interpretation better.

My interpretation of the quote is this: Skunks draw attention to themselves and are thus killed because of it, so I would assume Lincoln is talking about surpressing your ego and not drawing too much attention to yourself, for that will eventually be your downfall.

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