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United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 17, 2011

Whether you say it in French as “l’union fait la force” or in English as “united we stand, divided we fall” or any other language, the phrase means that people who join together as a group are much harder to defeat than if they were fighting the battle separately.

It’s been the official motto of Kentucky since 1942, the words inscribed in the official state seal of Missouri, and for gamers, it’s the 3rd mission in a first person tactical military game from British game developer Codemasters “Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.”

E Pluribus Unum” is the motto the US government adopted for its motto for its official seal back in 1776. Translated from Latin, the phrase means “one out of many.” Interestingly enough, that motto certainly upholds the dictum “united we stand, divided we fall” which was particularly fitting for what was then a country with many divisions.

John Dickinson liked the phrase so much that he used it in his revolutionary war song “The Liberty Song.” In the song, first published in the Boston Gazette in 18 July 1768, he wrote:

Then join in hand, brave Americans all—
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!

The phrase, however, originated with Aesop.  It is found directly in his fable, “The Four Oxen and the Lion” and indirectly in his fable, “The Bundle of Sticks.”

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2 Responses to “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

  1. Excellent as usual Elyse. I love this saying . I have added to it saying that if “We all stand then there will be no one left to fall.” The evolution of words. Maybe some day 100 years from now your desendants will research my phrase.

    • Thanks, Gary. And yes, wouldn’t it be awesome if 100 years or more from now, my descendants — and maybe yours as well — researched your phrase. It’s too bad we can’t research the future the way we can research the past. :-)

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