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Quotes Uncovered: Who First Talked About Skinning Cats?

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

A while back, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.
Alex asked:

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Who said it, and why are all these people skinning cats?

This is a proverb (there are an alarming number of popular proverbs about killing cats), and has no identifiable originator. The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs traces it as far back as 1854; since that reference work does not research its dates of first use in any systematic way, it may be much older than that.


[Who said] “People get the government they deserve”?

The YBQ quotes Joseph de Maistre:

“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.” (Every country has the government it deserves.) Lettres et Opuscules Inédits (1851) (letter of August 15, 1811).

Randy asked:

Just curious — do speechwriters get attribution? “Our finest hour” by Churchill, “ask not” by JFK, etc. were all attributed to the leaders who said them, right?

Sometimes speechwriters get a fair amount of recognition for their work — Peggy Noonan for George Bush Sr.‘s “thousand points of light” speech, for example. Sometimes it is not clear which speechwriter contributed what or whether the politician him or herself contributed the line in question. Sometimes the speechwriter adamantly denies credit, as Ted Sorensen has done for many decades with regard to JFK’s Profiles in Courage and inaugural address. In The Yale Book of Quotations, I list quotations from political speeches under the name of the politician.
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?