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.

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Entry from October 02, 2009
“There is a providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America”

"There is a providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America” is often said to be a quotation of Otto von Bismarck (1818-1898). The quotation in the form “God always helps fools, lovers and drunkards” exists in French from at least 1708. In 1849, “the special providence over the United States and little children” was attributed to Abbé Correa. The old French proverb was credited to Bismarck in 1907.

The proverb—in its many forms—is still cited.


Wikiquote: Otto von Bismarck
Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1 April 1815 - 30 July 1898) German aristocrat and statesman; Prime Minister of Prussia (1862 -1890), First Chancellor of Germany (1871 - 1890); he is nicknamed the Iron Chancellor and is noted for the laconicity of his statements.
(...)
Misattributed
There is a special providence for drunkards, fools, and the United States of America.
. This saying appears as early as 1849 in the form “the special providence over the United States and little children”, attributed to Abbé Correa. There is no good evidence that Bismarck ever repeated it. See talk page for more details.

Wikiquote: Talk:Otto von Bismarck
Other variants
. God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America
. The Lord looks after fools, drunks, and the United States.
. There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.
. A special Providence takes care of fools, drunkards, and the United States.
. God always looks after the fools and the United States.
KHirsch 20:25, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Google Books
Contes et nouvelles
By Marguerite (Queen, consort of Henry II, King of Navarre)
Amsterdam: Chez George Gallet
1708
Pg. 44:
N’avez vous pas entendu dire, dit Guebron, que Dieu aide toûjours aux fous, aux amoureux, & aux ivrognes?
(Haven’t you heard, said Guebron, that God always helps fools, lovers, and drunkards?—ed.)

Google Books
Abrégé du Dictionnaire universel françois et latin: vulgairement appellé Dictionnaire de Trévoux
Volume 2
By Pierre Charles Berthelin
Paris: Libraires associés
1762
Pg. 253
Dieu aide à trois sortes de personnes, aux fous, aux enfants, & aux ivrognes.
(God helps three kinds of people: fools, children, and drunkards.—ed.)

Google Books
Stories of American life; by American writers
Volume III
Edited by Mary Russell Mitford
London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley
1830
Pg. 66:
That peculiar Providence which the French proverb truly says, always watches over fools and drunkards, brought him in safety to Rome; and there he fell in my way, in the manner already related.

Google Books
State trials of the United States during the administrations of Washington and Adams:
With references, historical and professional, and preliminary notes on the politics of the times

By Francis Wharton
Philadelphia, PA: Carey and Hart
1849
Pg. 4:
Were it not for this torpid ductility, this self-abandonment to what Correa called “the special providence over the United States and little children,” the accidents of a young government, like the accidents of a young child, would be fearfully accumulated. 

Making of America
December 1856, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, “Editor’s Drawer,” pg. 135, col. 2:
It has been said that a “special Providence watches over children, drunkards, and the United States.”

Google Books
Australian Sketches:
The Gold Discovery, Bush Graves, &c., &c

By Thomas M’Combie
London: Sampson Low, Son, & Co.
1861
Pg. 50:
Fortunately, he was not injured by so unexpected an embrace of his mother earth; and the saying, that there is a providence that protects children and drunken men was fully verified in the present instance, for, on getting up, and shaking the dust from his clothes, it was found that no limbs were broken; and having consoled himself with another glass of brandy, the first having been spilt in his rapid descent, we started on our journey.

Google Books
September 1882, The Homiletic Monthly, “The leadership of Educated Me” by George W. Curtis, pg. 696, col. 1:
I understand the saying that God takes care of children, drunken men and the United States.

Google Books
Our Country:
Its possible future and its present crisis

By Josiah Strong
New York, NY: Published by Baker & Taylor for the American Home Missionary Society
1885
Pg. 30:
There is a popular faith that “God takes care of children, fools and the United States.”

Google Books
Glimpses of the Nation’s Struggle. [1st]-6th series. Papers read before the Minnesota commandery of the Military order of the loyal legion of the United States [1887]-1903/08.
By Edward D Neill; Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Minnesota Commandery.
St. Paul, MN
1893
Pg. 57:
We labor continuously against this seemingly popular American idea, that Providence takes care of children, fools and the United States.

New York (NY) Times
22 July 1897, New York (NY) Times, “Inverted Protection,” pg. 4:
Why are the prosperous times for this country so largely due to the whimsical intervention of that Providence which our French friends say watches over fools, drunkards, and Americans?

11 February 1900, New York (NY) Times, pg. 15, col. 4:
That there are so few of these is not due to the efforts of the railroad company, but to the truth of the old adage that there is some sort of providence that protects drunkards and fools. 

Google Books
The campaign of Santiago de Cuba, Volume 1
By Herbert Howland Sargent
Chicago, IL: A. C. McClurg & Company
1907
Pg. 105:
When it is remembered that in this campaign the United States won a glorious victory far-reaching in its results, in spite of a lack of proper and timely preparation, in spite of the small size of the invading army and the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, in spite of the tropical rains, the withering heat, the deadly fevers, and the desperate resistance offered by the Spaniards on the battlefield, one is almost tempted to exclaim with Bismarck that “God always looks after the fools and — and the United States.”

Google Books
January 1908, Armor: Journal of the United States Cavalry Association, pg. 609:
Bismarck has truly said that “God always looks after the fools and the United States.”

Google Books
The Truth Concerning the United States Army
By Frederic Louis Huidekoper
Washington, DC: United States Infantry Association
1911 (Reprinted from Infantry Journal, May 1911)
Pg. 15:
We Americans have sublime faith in the truth of the remark once made by Bismarck that “the Lord takes care of babes, fools, and the United States.”

28 October 1912, Belleville (IL) News Democrat, pg. 7:
The Providence that protects little children and imbeciles and drunken men had steered that “millponner” safely and unscathed through what appeared to be a hopeless array of catfish and stingaree spines while he wrestled with the big bass.

Google Books
The Oxford history of the United States, 1783-1917
Volume 2
By Samuel Eliot Morison
Oxford: Oxford University Press
1927
Pg. 413:
Prince Bismarck is said to have remarked, just before his death, that there was a special providence for drunkards, fools, and the United States of America.

Google Books
The Vaquero
By Arnold R. Rojas
Charlotte, NC: McNally and Loftin
1964
Pg. 39:
There is a providence that protects children, drunkards, vaqueros, and buckaroos.

3 November 1964, Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Kaiser Dismissed U.S. As Threat to Germany” by Hal Drake, pg. A2, col. 3:
‘There is a certain Divine Providence that protects fools, idiots and the United States of America,” Bismarck had said, after field observers brought him back reports of American mistakes during the Cuban campaign.

Washington (DC) Post
Obama’s French Lesson
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, October 2, 2009
(...)
Bismarck is said to have said: “There is a providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.” Bismarck never saw Obama at the United Nations. Sarkozy did. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, October 02, 2009 • Permalink