The Ten Cannots

(CORRECTION: Philip Beyer here – Thanks to Bob Bliss for finding an error in this “Ten Cannots” blog post. Although William Boetcker’s list of “Ten Cannots” has been quoted by many others, including President Ronald Reagan, we mistakenly included President Abraham Lincoln as one of those. Good catch, Bob! A little more research shows that Lincoln never said them. The “Ten Cannots” were, of course, written in 1916 by the Rev. Boetcker, a Presbyterian clergyman and pamphlet writer, and President Lincoln was assassinated eight years before Boetcker was born. However, in 1942, a group called the Committee for Constitutional Government gave out a great many leaflets entitled “Lincoln on Limitations” that contained on one side a real Lincoln quote and on the other side the 10 Boetcker statements. Since then, many have attributed the “Ten” to Lincoln. I apologize for adding to that confusion. Thanks for reading!)

As a business owner for nearly 30 years, I have come to see how the state of our nation—the political landscape, a virtual battlefield for conservative and liberal thinking—has had a profound influence on the success or failure of American businesses.

Most of my energy over those years has been concentrated on the business of business—how it works, how to make it work better, and how to help others sustain the highest standards of quality, efficiency and productivity in their own businesses. My research has been fascinating, to say the least!

Recently, I became aware of a man named William J. H. Boetcker, an influential leader and public speaker in America during the early to mid-20th Century. His words, I believe, ring even truer today than they might have during his lifetime. Born in 1873 in Hamburg, Germany, and raised in Erie, PA, Boetcker was an outspoken proponent of free-market enterprise and entrepreneurship. He is best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet he published in 1916, titled “The Ten Cannots.”

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Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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Comments
  • Robert Bliss

    Thanks for sharing these great words of wisdom with our current business leaders. Those that are leaders should recognize Boetcker’s words and repeat them for all to hear and teach them for all to learn and most of all for all to live by!

  • Susan Beyer

    CORRECTION: Philip Beyer here – Thanks to Bob Bliss for finding an error in my "Ten Cannots" blog. Although William Boetcker’s list of "Ten Cannots" has been quoted by many others, including President Ronald Reagan, we mistakenly included President Abraham Lincoln as one of those. Good catch, Bob! A little more research shows that Lincoln never said these things. They were, of course, written in 1916 by the Rev. Boetcker, a Presbyterian clergyman and pamphlet writer. However, in 1942, a group called the Committee for Constitutional Government gave out a great many leaflets entitled "Lincoln on Limitations" that contained on one side a real Lincoln quote and on the other side the 10 Boetcker statements. I apologize for any confusion. Thanks for reading!