Origins of Sayings - Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don't

About the history and origins behind the famous saying you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Stories behind Famous Sayings


Who Said It: Lorenzo Dow

When: Before 1834

The Story behind It: American evangelist Lorenzo Dow decided at a very early age to devote his life to teaching the word of God and began preaching at the age of 19. Although his views were similar to those of the Methodists, he was never formally affiliated with them. He roamed on horseback throughout the northern and southern parts of the U.S. Dow's dramatic sermons, eccentric manners, and strange looking clothes made him a frequent topic of conversation. He died in 1834, and in 1836 his written works were edited and published. They included "Reflections on the Love of God," a strong criticism of preachers who supported the doctrine of Particular Election and confused their congregations by pointing out conflicting statements in the Bible. In it Dow chastised"... those who preach it up, to make the Bible clash and contradict itself, by preaching somewhat like this: 'You can and you can't-You shall and you shan't-You will and you won't-And you will be damned if you do-And you will be damned if you don't.' "

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