This quotation is written above the stage in the auditorium at DuSable High School where I work on the South Side of Chicago. There is some discussion about the origin of the quote but nobody seems to be sure. It might be from Wendell Phillips? I am a librarian but have not been able to find out what its origin is. The school was built in 1935 and opened in 1936 to replace the Wendell Phillips High School which burned down.
I am looking for the sources for two highly quoted but (as far as I can tell) never cited quotations. I prefer to have the original source - that could be journal article, newspaper article, interview, authored work, etc. but I can accept a reference to a reputable quotations dictionary or other reference work. I need page number in addition to the title, publisher, etc.
The first quote is:
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
The second quote is:
If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.
The commercial database (at large academic libraries) LION takes this quote back to 1822, in C. S. (Charles S.) Talbot () Paddy's Trip to America; or, The Husband with Three Wives. A Farce, in Two Acts New-York Printed for the Author 1822 48 p. Text type: Prose
Genre: Farce, Comedy First performed: Washington Hall, New York
First performed: 1821 or 1822.
The exact quote is: O'Fla. [Patrick O'Flaherty]  Can't your honour; I'm as dry as a whistle,  and could'nt squeese a word out, 'till I be after  getting something to drink.
JSTOR gets zero hits for the phrase "dry as a whistle", no doubt because "as" and "a" are stop words. The search: dry and whistle gets 1522 hits, and when you sort by "oldest to most recent" you get 3 hits older that 1839. But they all seem to have only one of the words on "page of first match".
Oxford English Dictionary (advanced search for the phrase in full text), says: "1842 J. WILSON Chr. North I. 84 By the time we reach the manse we are as dry as a whistle". The reference links to: Wilson, John. The Recreations of Christopher North 1842.
But even the greatest dictionary, like all of historical research, is a work-in-progress. Quite possibly, the actual first use was never even written down. Google Books gets 13 hits for the search: "dry as a whistle" date:1500-1842, so that is one possible avenue to try - bearing in mind that OCR (optical character recognition) can produce some wildly inaccurate dates. Also, Google necessarily ends up scanning many very old volumes that were bound with much more current books - which also throws off the results.
In the Abraham Lincoln Papers Editors' Preface to the Transcriptions, they point out that "The letters Lincoln wrote to others, where they survive, are mostly to be found either in the papers of the recipients or in special repositories of Lincoln material. Except for occasional drafts and copies of his own letters he retained for his files, the correspondence in Lincoln's papers consists of the letters sent to him beginning at the time he served in Congress in the 1840s, when he first began preserving his papers." So it appears that this could be a very extensive research project, involving contacting many archives to find out if any such letter to Asahel Gridley survives - if it ever existed.
Such a letter certainly does not seem to be reproduced online. Many searches in Lincoln sites such as the ones at Library of Congress American Memory, the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project (which gets 25 hits for the name Gridley), and the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln do not appear to shed more light on a letter. Searches such as: "abraham lincoln" gridley, "abraham lincoln" "land ownership", and "abraham lincoln" monopolies get a few letters and quotes that touch on this, but most of them are quoting people such as Black Hawk on land ownership, and a few refer to Browne's book with this quoted passage itself.