Doh! Oval Office Rug Gets Quote's Author Wrong

It's attributed to MLK, but he borrowed the words
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2010 2:15 PM CDT
Doh! Oval Office Rug Gets Quote's Author Wrong
The rug in the Oval Office has quotations on the border.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The new rug in President Obama's Oval Office includes famous quotations, including this from Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." The only problem, reports the Washington Post, is that King borrowed the words (and made no secret of it) from a long-dead abolitionist he admired named Theodore Parker. More precisely, King condensed the words from the original 1853 quote: "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one. ... But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice."

As a weird footnote, author Jamie Stiehm, who wrote the Post article, points out that the rug also includes Abraham Lincoln's line about a "government of the people, by the people and for the people." More than a decade earlier, Parker had written: "A democracy—that is a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people."Stiehm concludes: "Theodore Parker, Oval Office wordmeister for the ages." (Read more Oval Office makeover stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.