A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln claims he liked to sit on his porch and smoke hemp while playing a harmonica. Is this quote real?
It is likely false.
We could find no credible evidence regarding the veracity of the Lincoln hemp/harmonica quote. Legend holds that a letter was written (some say in 1855) by Lincoln to the Hohner Harmonica Company, and this alleged letter now hangs in the Hohner Museum. It has also been asserted that Lincoln’s quote was printed as an endorsement on Hohner boxes.
The quote in question reads, “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.”
There are several things to consider regarding the quote above and the claims behind it:
- There is no reliable source for this quote. It is claimed to be in a letter which no one has been able to produce.
- Hemp expert Don Wirtshafter is often quoted as writing, “Concerning the Lincoln rumor, the source of this one was supposed to be a letter from Abe to the Hohner Harmonica Company that was posted on the wall of their museum in Germany. I later saw a letter from the curator of the museum denying that the letter existed.”
- Lincoln was not known to be a smoker of pipes, cigarettes, or cigars.
- Some versions of the quote attribute an 1855 date, which is two years before Hohner began making harmonicas.
- It has been suggested that this quote was printed on the top of older Hohner harmonica boxes as an endorsement from President Lincoln, yet no examples have ever surfaced.
- Erowid.org, the well-known website devoted to information about psychoactive plants and chemicals, weighed in on the topic: “…rumor is that a quote by Lincoln appeared on a Hohner harmonica box saying that he smoked ‘hemp cigarettes’. There is no evidence to support this and we believe the rumor to be false.”
- High Times also dismissed the quote and wrote that “we have no proof” that Lincoln smoked marijuana.
Huffington Post 2009 Article
Although the quote in question has been circulating online for many years, it was given a boost in 2009 by a Huffington Post article which referenced the quote without providing an sources. Commenters quickly pointed out the lack of sourcing, but many who didn’t bother to read the comments took the unsourced quote as truth.
There is no evidence that this quote was ever written in a letter by Abe Lincoln, who was not known to be a smoker.
Hemp fans seeking to cite some historic figures associated with hemp need not despair, however. Founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson farmed hemp, and the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on Dutch hemp paper.
If you have any additional information about this quote, please drop us a comment below!
Updated August 7, 2015
Originally published April 2013