Alexander Hamilton? Gordon A. Eadie? Irene Dunne? Peter Marshall? Theodore DeVries? wilhelm Sloane Coffin Jr.? Alex Hamilton? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: over there is a famous exhortative statement the employs the difference words “stand” and also “fall”. Here are three versions:

(1) If girlfriend don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.(2) Those who stand because that nothing fall for anything.(3) when you stand for nothing, you autumn for everything.

You are watching: Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.

This adage is attributed come Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and others. Might you discover this topic?

Quote Investigator: An interesting precursor for the saying showed up in a Methodist church announcement in an Iowa newspaper indigenous 1926. Words order and meaning were distinct, however the keywords to be the same. In 1927 the same precursor was printed as a “Sermonogram” in an Ohio newspaper: 1 2

It is less complicated to fall for anything than to stand for something.

Thanks to Andrew Steinberg for locating and sharing this nascent citations.

The earliest evidence of close complement known come QI was published in the January 1945 worry of a journal dubbed “Mental Hygiene”. At the moment of publication human being War II was still being fought. The adage showed up in an short article by the medical doctor Gordon A. Eadie title “The Over-All Mental-Health demands of the commercial Plant, with Special recommendation to battle Veterans”. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 3

We room trying to present him not just what we room fighting against, yet what we space fighting for. So many of these boys have only a an extremely hazy idea that the real issues of the war. About all they check out is “going back to the good old days.” This is a danger state. If they don’t stand for something, lock will autumn for anything. They should realize the we space fighting two wars—the battle of arms and the battle of ideas—that other war of i beg your pardon the battle of eight is one phase.

The crucial reference job-related “The thesaurus of modern-day Proverbs” from Yale university Press has actually an entry for this adage and also points to the exact same journal and year for its earliest citation. 4

Although the saying was employed by Gordon A. Eadie that is no clear even if it is he do it. A couple of months later on the adage was spoken by the renowned film actress Irene Dunne during a radio transfer as indicated below. QI believes that it is reasonable to categorize this expression as an anonymous modern proverb.

The usual attribution come the eighteenth-century statesman Alexander Hamilton to be probably based on a mistaken expertise of a relatively contemporary citation. A different man named Alex Hamilton that was a brothers broadcaster supplied the saying in 1978. Details space given additional below.

Here are added selected citations in chronological order.

In might 1945 the movie star Irene Dunne participated in a radio program called “Town meeting of the Air” according to “Radio Life Weekly” magazine, and she speak a variation of the saying: 5

Before three thousand interested spectators, Irene Dunne, Eddie Cantor, will Durant and Rev. J. Herbert Smith carried the “Town conference of the Air” come Los Angeles through a bang—or need to we say a clang….

Miss Dunne capably synthetic up the affirmative by stating that “If we don’t was standing for something, we’ll loss for anything.”

In July 1945 the mass-circulation “Reader’s Digest” published the saying as a short freestanding item and also credited the words to Dunne. “Reader’s Digest” functioned as crucial locus because that the popularization of quotations: 6

If we don’t stand for something, we will autumn for anything.— Irene Dunne on America’s town Meeting that the Air

In November 1945 a newspaper in Canton, new York published a brief announcement around a church service. The expression was provided as the title of a sermon by Theodore DeVries: 7

The Presbyterian Church. Rev. Theodore DeVries minister. Church service at 10:30. Sermon topic. “If we Don’t stand For Something, We fall For Anything”. Church college at 11:40.

Also in November another pastor named A.J. Whitney supplied an instance of the saying together a sermon location as videotaped in a Cooperstown, new York newspaper: 8

Pastor, Rev. A.J. Whitney “If girlfriend don’t was standing for something, you’ll be certain to loss for anything.”Wednesday, November 28: Weekly prayer conference at the parsonage in ~ 8 p.m.

In 1946 one Albany, brand-new York newspaper reported on a conference of the national Woman’s Party with about 50 attendees. An instance of the adage to be mentioned: 9

Miss grace Reavy said as a slogan because that the group, “Unless you stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

At the start of legislative branch sessions in the U.S. Senate a everyday prayer is typically available by the Senate Chaplain. Top top April 18, 1947 Chaplain Peter Marshall speak the adhering to words: 10

Our Father, we yearn because that a better understanding of spirituality things, that we may recognize surely what Thy will certainly is because that us and also for our Nation. Provide to united state clear vision that us may recognize where come stand and what to stand for—because unless we was standing for something, we shall autumn for anything.

The above an useful citation was provided in the landmark reference “Respectfully Quoted: A dictionary of Quotations asked for from the Congressional study Service”, and today the speak is occasionally ascribed to Peter Marshall; however, the 1945 citations disclose that the expression was currently in circulation before 1947. 11

In 1948 “The Rotarian” magazine printed an excerpt native a speech offered at a rotary club that described the statement by the Senate Chaplain despite the phrasing presented differed indigenous the initial prayer: 12

It is something favor the current chaplain that the Senate said recently in one of his moving prayers at the current special session, “Lord, help us to stand for something, because a guy who means nothing will loss for anything.”—From a rotating Club address.

In 1968 Evan Esar’s huge compendium “20,000 Quips and Quotes” presented 2 variants the the statement: 13

(1) Some civilization stand for nothing due to the fact that they fall for everything. (2) The human being who autumn for everything probably stand for nothing.

In 1973 “Time” magazine printed the remarks of peace activist and also clergyman william Sloane Coffin Jr. Who recounted the advice the he offered to an undergraduate: 14

My heat to him regarding so countless students in the 1950s was: ‘You’re a quite guy yet not yet a an excellent man. If friend don’t stand for something, you’re apt to loss for nothing!’

A version of the speak was had in the “Oxford essential Quotations” database of the “Oxford reference Online” system. The indigenous were credited to a brothers writer and also broadcaster called Alex Hamilton whose birth date was stated as 1936: 15

Those who stand for nothing loss for anything.‘Born Old’ (radio broadcast), in Listener 9 November 1978

The 1978 citation day highlighted the distinction between Alex Hamilton and the U.S. Founding father Alexander Hamilton, but confusion has actually persisted and incorrect attributions have actually been frequent.

In 1990 a letter was printed in “SPIN” magazine from bill Finley who functioned for an additional magazine dubbed “In these Times”: 16

To pictured Gil Scot-Heron’s grandmother’s words: If friend don’t stand for something, you’ll autumn for anything.

In conclusion, QI believes this saying is a modern-day proverb through unknown authorship. A precursor was in circulation by 1926, and also the earliest well-known close match arisen in an short article by Gordon A. Eadie in 1945. Hence, some may wish to credit transaction Eadie. Yet, antedatings are possible in the future. Actress Irene Dunne assisted to popularize the expression with her radio appearance and also the reprinted quotation in “Reader’s Digest”.

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Image Notes: Irene Dunne indigenous the movie Love Affairs. Public domain photo From Wikimedia Commons. Blue figures from Nemo ~ above Pixabay.

(Great many thanks to Sharif Faizullah and also Bubbanotbad Drevik who inquires urged QI to construct this question and perform this exploration. Special many thanks to Andrew Steinberg because that the 1926 cite.)