In 1961, John F. Kennedy misattributed a famous quote at the conclusion of a speech before the Canadian Parliament. It is one of those that is difficult to track down. Someone may know where it came from, but I can’t find it anywhere. Here is what Kennedy said, “At the conference table and in the minds of men, the Free World’s cause is strengthened because it is just. But it is strengthened even more by the dedicated efforts of free men and free nations. As the great parliamentarian Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’.” (Transcript from UVA Miller Center)

Edmund Burke was in the British Parliament during the American Revolt and most of the French Revolution. His view on the slave trade was complex. He did, however, outline a process for ending the slave trade. William Wilberforce picked up the task and parliament ended the trade in 1807, ten years after Burke’s death.

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