A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 18, 2021
“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities…”

"The spirit of the optimist to whom every difficulty is an opportunity, and not as the pessimist, to whom every opportunity presents some difficulty” was printed in The Fifty-First Annual Co-operative Congress (1919). “A pessimist (...) is a man who takes every opportunity of seeing a difficulty, but the optimist is he who sees in every difficulty an opportunity” was printed in The Druid (Pittsburgh, PA) on November 15, 1921. The saying is very popular in business, where it is used to promote business optimism.

“A pessimist is a man who on every opportunity sees a difficulty; and optimist, one who in every difficulty sees an opportunity” was printed in the Winnipeg (Manitoba) Tribune (under the headline “Maxims Supply Helpful Hints") on October 21, 1922. “A pessimist is a man who on every opportunity sees a difficulty; an optimist, one who in every difficulty sees an opportunity” was printed in the Marion (OH) Daily Star (and many other newspapers under the headline “It Has Been Said") on December 9, 1922.

“The pessimist sees an obstacle in every opportunity; the optimist sees an opportunity in every obstacle” was printed in the Cairo (NE) Record on November 1, 1922.

“A pessimist is one who sees a disaster in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every disaster” was said by businessman John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) and printed in many newspapers on March 2, 1925.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. Remember that and you will get along.—Vice Admiral Mansell, R. N.“ was printed in the New York (NY) Times on August 17, 1930. “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.—Vice-Admiral Mansell, R.N.” was printed in The Reader’s Digest in 1933. “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. --Reginald B. Mansell” was printed in the Honolulu (HI) Star-Bulletin on May 22, 1947. Reginald B. Mansell was a British clerk, not a Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy. There is no evidence that someone named Mansell said this before 1930.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties” has been credited (since the 1990s) to U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). It’s not certain that he ever said it. If Truman did say it (perhaps when he was president in the 1940s), he was not the first.

“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty” has been credited to Winston Churchill (1874-1965) in many books and websites since the 1990s, but there’s no evidence that he ever said it.

[This entry includes research by the Quote Investigator.]


HathiTrust
The Fifty-First Annual Co-operative Congress,
Held at the Market Hall, Carlisle, England, On 9th, 10th, and 11th June, 1919

Published by the Co-operative Union Limited, Holyoake House, Hanover Street, Manchester, England
1919
Pg. 64:
The past history of an old walled city such as this leaves its legacy of ideas antiquated and out of date. These, as expressed in tangible form, are an embarrassment, and hinder the wheels of progress, but we view these, I hope, in the spirit of the optimist to whom every difficulty is an opportunity, and not as the pessimist, to whom every opportunity presents some difficulty.
(Spoken by Bertram Carr who was the Mayor of Carlisle, England.—ed.)

15 November 1921, The Druid (Pittsburgh, PA), pg. 4, col. 3:
“A pessimist,” says the Rev. F. W. Cole, president of the Cardiff Free Church Council, “is a man who takes every opportunity of seeing a difficulty, but the optimist is he who sees in every difficulty an opportunity.”

18 February 1922, The North-China Herald (Shanghai), pg. 444, col. 1:
A few pages further on I noted this rather neat definition, which is well worth retrieving from the semi-private circulation of a church publication,—“A pessimist is one who sees a difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist is one who sees an opportunity in every difficulty.”

Newspapers.com
21 October 1922, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Tribune, “Maxims Supply Helpful Hints,” The Tribune Junior sec., pg. 6, col. 4:
A pessimist is a man who on every opportunity sees a difficulty; and optimist, one who in every difficulty sees an opportunity.

Newspapers.com
1 November 1922, Cairo (NE) Record, pg. 3, col. 2:
The pessimist sees an obstacle in every opportunity; the optimist sees an opportunity in every obstacle.

Newspapers.com
2 November 1922, The Citizen (Burns, KS), pg. 7, col. 4:
The pessimist sees an obstacle in every opportunity; the optimist sees an opportunity in every obstacle.

Newspapers.com
9 December 1922, Marion (OH) Daily Star, “It Has Been Said,” pg. 6, col. 6:
A pessimist is a man who on every opportunity sees a difficulty; an optimist, one who in every difficulty sees an opportunity.

Newspapers.com
11 December 1922, North Adams (MA) Evening Transcript, “It Has Been Said,” pg. 4, cols. 2-3:
A pessimist is a man who on every opportunity sees a difficulty; an optimist, one who in every difficulty sees an opportunity.

17 December 1922, Grand Forks (ND) Herald, second section, pg. 9, col. 4:
A pessimist is a man who on every opportunity sees a difficulty; an optimist, one who in every difficulty sees an opportunity.

Newspapers.com
2 March 1925, The Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY), “John D. Grows Better as Golf Game Improves,” pg. 1, col. 2:
In one round after a poor start on a difficult hole, he (John D. Rockefeller, 1839-1937—ed.) gave a definition of an optimist and a pessimist.

“A pessimist,” he said, “is one who sees a disaster in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every disaster.”

28 August 1927, San Diego (CA) Union, “Show Me a Sacrifice!” by Alfred Stahel, Jr. (Realty Analyst), pg. 5, col. 4:
The best definition I have ever heard of the words “pessimist” and “optimist”—and there have been innumerable definitions of them—is that, “The pessimist finds difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist finds opportunity in every difficulty.”

23 October 1927, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. 10, col. 2 ad:
A frown never built anything
THE world’s greatest men have all been optimists. Cheerfully have they attacked the problems of their age, and even in defeat have they smiled, knowing that they fought a good fight.

Whereas the pessimist finds difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist finds opportunity in every difficulty.
(California Land Buyers Syndicate—ed.)

Google Books
Proceedings
American Transit Engineering Association
1928
Pg. 128:
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, whereas the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty — and we certainly need a lot of the latter spirit in our industry today.

Newspapers.com
21 March 1928, Manchester (UK) Guardian, “SPRATTS PATENT, LTD.,” pg. 16, col. 3:
I once heard an optimist described as a man who made opportunities out of his difficulties, and a pessimist as a man who saw difficulties in every opportunity.

Google Books
January 1930, The Rotarian, “What Is Constructive Citizenship?” by Dr. L. P. Jacks, pg. 49, col. 1:
But what is an optimist? And what is a pessimist? An optimist, it has truly been said, is one who sees opportunity in every difficulty. A pessimist is one who sees a difficulty in every opportunity.

17 August 1930, New York (NY) Times, “Quotation Marks,” sec. 20, pg. 2, col. 4:
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. Remember that and you will get along.—Vice Admiral Mansell, R. N.

Google Books
The Reader’s Digest
Volume 23
1933
Pg. 87:
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.
--- Vice-Admiral Mansell, R.N.

Google News Archive
19 January 1943, Milwaukee (WI Journal, pg. 1, cols. 6-7:
Willimore (Cyrus Willmore of St. Louis—ed.), new president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards and a past president of Optimist International, spoke at a joint meeting of the Milwaukee Optimist club and the Milwaukee real estate board.
(...)
The speaker said the present time is opportune for optimists, describing an optimist as “one who sees opportunity in every difficulty whereas a pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.”

Google Books
What Is Truth
By Powell Spring
Winter Park, FL: Orange Press
1944
Pg. 171:
A PESSIMIST IS ONE WHO MAKES DIFFICULTIES OF HIS OPPORTUNITIES; AN OPTIMIST IS ONE WHO MAKES OPPORTUNITIES OF HIS DIFFICULTIES. — R. N. MANSELL,

Newspapers.com
22 May 1947, Honolulu (HI) Star-Bulletin, pg. 8, col. 1:
A Thought for Today
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. --Reginald B. Mansell.

Google Books
Golf’s Mental Magic
By Guy S. Fasciana
Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams
1993
Pg. 117:
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities ; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. — Harry Truman

Google Groups: alt.penpals.forty-plus-yrs
Optimism “Inspire”
Trevor Speight
Sep 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM
(...)
> OPTIMISM

> A pessimist is one who makes difficulties
> of his opportunities, and
> an optimist is one who makes opportunities
> of his difficulties.

> - Harry Truman

Richard M. Langworth—Churchill historian, automotive and travel writer
More “Quotations” Churchill Never Said
by Richard M. Langworth on 19 June 2009
A web­site named “IL Con­ser­v­a­tive” posted in June 2009 eight Churchill “quo­ta­tions,” six of which he never said. These quo­ta­tions are all over the Inter­net, none of them attrib­uted, and just seem to mul­ti­ply and get passed on, like the com­mon cold.
(...)
Any­way, and for the record, all of these are NOT CHURCHILL (and I will not dig­nify them with quotemarks):

1. A pes­simist sees the dif­fi­culty in every oppor­tu­nity; an opti­mist sees the oppor­tu­nity in every difficulty.

Google Books
1001 Motivational Quotes for Success
By Thomas Vilord
Austin, TX: Live Oak Book Company
2011
Pg. ?:
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
-- Winston Churchill

Twitter
Motivational Quotes
@motivational
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. -Mansell
12:35 AM · Jan 26, 2015·erased5725143

Twitter
McNeese Gov Info
@MSUGovInfo
Your #MondayMotivation courtesy of President Harry S. Truman: “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” Wishing you many opportunities this week!
12:37 PM · Aug 27, 2018·Buffer

Google Books
Title A Pessimist Is One Who Makes Difficulties of His Opportunities; an Optimist Is One Who Makes Opportunities of His Difficulties. Reginald B. Mansell: Quote Notebook - Lined Notebook -Lined Journal - Blank Notebook-Notebook Journal-notebook 6x9-notebook Quo
Author Notebooks
Publisher Independently Published, 2019
ISBN 1086669606, 9781086669602
Length 102 pages

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Barb Mayfield
@BarbMayfield
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.
Harry S. Truman
#pessimist #optimist #youdecide
7:52 AM · Feb 19, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

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@tweetz789
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.- Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister
1:19 AM · Jul 20, 2021·Twitter bot (coded)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Sunday, July 18, 2021 • Permalink