I bet you if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting and human fellow, for I never yet met a man that I dident like. When you meet people, no matter what opinion you might have formed about them beforehand, why, after you meet them and see their angle and their personality, why, you can see a lot of good in all of them.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
Saturday Evening Post (6 Nov 1926)

On regrets over not having met Leon Trotsky while visiting the Soviet Union. Earliest formulation of Rogers' motto found in print (the misspelling of "didn't" is in the original). The article, including this passage, was incorporated into a book Rogers published about the trip, There's Not a Bathing Suit in Russia & Other Bare Facts, ch. 4 (1927)

Another early reference, speaking at a Boston church (Jun 1930):

I’ve got my epitaph all worked out. When I’m tucked away in the old graveyard west of Oologah [Oklahoma], I hope they will cut this epitaph -- or whatever you call them signs they put over gravestones -- on it, ‘Here lies Will Rogers. He joked about every prominent man in his time, but he never met a man he didn’t like.

That reference was picked up in AP news stories, and Rogers used the phrase for the rest of his life.

More info: here, here, and here.

 
Added on 1-May-08 | Last updated 17-Mar-22
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