Abraham Lincoln Quotes

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Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

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Abraham Lincoln Quotes

“We trust, Sir, that God is on our side.” “It is more important to know that we are on God’s side.” – Abraham Lincoln

A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. – Abraham Lincoln

A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones. – Abraham Lincoln

A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started … He will assume control of your cities, states and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations … The fate of humanity is in his hands. – Abraham Lincoln

A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started … the fate of humanity is in his hands. – Abraham Lincoln

A day spent helping no one but yourself is a day wasted. – Abraham Lincoln

‘A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal.’ So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey which catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the highroad to his reason. – Abraham Lincoln

A farce or comedy is best played; a tragedy is best read at home. – Abraham Lincoln

A fellow once came to me to ask for an appointment as a minister abroad. Finding he could not get that, he came down to some more modest position. Finally, he asked to be made a tide-waiter. When he saw he could not get that, he asked me for an old pair of trousers. It is sometimes well to be humble. – Abraham Lincoln

A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have. – Abraham Lincoln

A gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in different parts of Kentucky, and was taking them to a farm in the South. They were chained six and six together. A small iron clevis was around the left wrist of each, and this was fastened to the main chain by a shorter one, at a convenient distance from the others, so that the negroes were strung together precisely like so many fish upon a trotline. In this condition they were being separated forever from the scenes of their childhood, their friends, their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters, and many of them from their wives and children, and going into perpetual slavery, where the lash of the master is proverbially more ruthless and unrelenting than any other where; and yet amid all these distressing circumstances, as we would think them, they were the most cheerful and apparently happy creatures on board. One whose offense for which he had been sold was an over-fondness for his wife, played the fiddle almost continually, and the others danced, sang, cracked jokes, and played various games with cards from day to day. How true it is that “God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,” or in other words, that he renders the worst human conditions tolerable, while he permits the best to be nothing better than tolerable. – Abraham Lincoln

A good, real, unrestrained, hearty laugh is a sort of glorified internal massage, performed rapidly and automatically. It manipulates and revitalizes corners and unexplored crannies of the system that are unresponsive to most other exercise methods. With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die. – Abraham Lincoln

A house divided against itself cannot stand. – Abraham Lincoln

A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. – Abraham Lincoln

A jury too often has at least one member more ready to hang the panel than to hang the traitor. – Abraham Lincoln

A lawyer’s advice is his stock and trade. – Abraham Lincoln

A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade – Abraham Lincoln

‘A living dog is better than a dead lion.’ Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He don’t care anything about it. – Abraham Lincoln

A long visit to a friend is often a great bore. Never make people twice glad. – Abraham Lincoln

A man has not the time to spend half his life in quarrels. If any man ceases to attack me, I never remember the past against him. – Abraham Lincoln

A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be. – Abraham Lincoln

A man watches his pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap. – Abraham Lincoln

A man’s legs must be long enough to reach the ground. – Abraham Lincoln

A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain durability. – Abraham Lincoln

A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure. – Abraham Lincoln

A new book is like a friend that I have yet to meet. – Abraham Lincoln

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man. – Abraham Lincoln

A person will be just about as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln

A private soldier has as much right to justice as a major-general. – Abraham Lincoln

A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

A right result, at this time, will be worth more to the world, than ten times the men, and ten times the money. – Abraham Lincoln

A statesman is he who thinks in the future generations, and a politician is he who thinks in the upcoming elections. – Abraham Lincoln

A tendancy to melancholy…let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault. – Abraham Lincoln

A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. – Abraham Lincoln

A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was asked by an aide about the church service he had attended. Lincoln responded that the minister was inspired, interesting, well-prepared, eloquent and the topic relevant. The aide said, “Then it was a good service?” Lincoln responded, “No.” The aide protested, “But, Mr. President, you said that the minister was inspired, interesting, well-prepared, eloquent, and that the topic was relevant.” “Yes,” replied Lincoln, “but he didn’t challenge us to do any great thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana, they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former nor the burning suns of the latter; they are not the creature of climate, neither are they confined to the slaveholding or the non-slaveholding States. Alike they spring up among the pleasure-hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order-loving citizens of the land of steady habits. Whatever then their cause may be, it is common to the whole country. – Abraham Lincoln

Achievement has no color. – Abraham Lincoln

Adversity does not make us frail; it only shows us how frail we are. – Abraham Lincoln

Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern purpose of defending your beloved country and its free institutions by any arguments urged by ambitious and designing men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag. – Abraham Lincoln

Again the institution of slavery is only mentioned in the Constitution of the United States two or three times, and in neither of these cases does the word “slavery” or “negro race” occur; but covert language is used each time, and for a purpose full of significance. – Abraham Lincoln

All creation is a mine, and every man a miner. – Abraham Lincoln

All creation is a mine, and every man a miner. The whole earth, and all within it, upon it, and round about it, including himself … are the infinitely various “leads” from which, man, from the first, was to dig out his destiny. – Abraham Lincoln

All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother. – Abraham Lincoln

All I ask for the negro is that if you do not like him, let him alone. If God gave him but little, that little let him enjoy. – Abraham Lincoln

All I have learned, I learned from books. – Abraham Lincoln

All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind. – Abraham Lincoln

All that harms labor is treason to America. – Abraham Lincoln

All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. – Abraham Lincoln

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. – Abraham Lincoln

All that serves labor serves the Nation. All that harms labor is treason to America. No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other. – Abraham Lincoln

All the armies of Europe combined could not by force make a track upon the Blue Ridge, or take a drink from the Ohio. If we are to be destroyed, we must do it ourselves. – Abraham Lincoln

All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. – Abraham Lincoln

All the strange, checkered past seems to crowd upon my mind. – Abraham Lincoln

All true wisdom is found on T-shirts. – Abraham Lincoln

Allow me to assure you, that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation. – Abraham Lincoln

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion,and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure. – Abraham Lincoln

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure. – Abraham Lincoln

Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it by being a slave himself – Abraham Lincoln

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. – Abraham Lincoln

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Always let your subordinates know that the honor will be all theirs if they succeed and the blame will be yours if they fail. – Abraham Lincoln

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?– Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet. – Abraham Lincoln

Among the friends of Union, there is great diversity of sentiment and of policy in regard to slavery and the African race among us. – Abraham Lincoln

An allusion has been made to the Homestead Law. I think it worthy of consideration, and that the wild lands of the country should be distributed so that every man should have the means and opportunity of benefitting his condition. – Abraham Lincoln

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave in not “distinctly and expressly affirmed” in it. – Abraham Lincoln

An old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that it was not best to swap horses when crossing a stream. – Abraham Lincoln

And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear, and with manly hearts. – Abraham Lincoln

And I am glad to know that there is a system of labor – where the laborer can strike if he wants to! I would to God that such a system prevailed all over the world. – Abraham Lincoln

And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations. – Abraham Lincoln

And I do think–I repeat, though I said it on a former occasion–that Judge Douglas, and whoever, like him, teaches that the negro has no share, humble though it may be, in the Declaration of Independence, is going back to the era of our liberty and independence, and, so far as in him lies, muzzling the cannon that thunders its annual joyous return; that he is blowing out the moral lights around us, when he contends that whoever wants slaves has a right to hold them; that he is penetrating, so far as lies in his power, the human soul, and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty, when he is in every possible way preparing the public mind, by his fast influence, for making the institution of slavery perpetual and national. – Abraham Lincoln

And then, the negro being doomed, and damned, and forgotten, to everlasting bondage, is the white man quite certain that the tyrant demon will not turn upon him too? – Abraham Lincoln

And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonnet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation. – Abraham Lincoln

And upon this act [Emancipation Proclamation]…I invoke…the gracious favor of Almighty God. – Abraham Lincoln

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God … and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. – Abraham Lincoln

And whereas this House desires to obtain a full knowledge of all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot of soil which the blood of our citizens was so shed was, or was not, our own soil. – Abraham Lincoln

And while it has not pleased the Almighty to bless us with a return of peace, we can but press on, guided by the best light He gives, trusting that in His own good time, and wise way, all will yet be well. – Abraham Lincoln

And you are entirely free from head-ache? That is good — good — considering it is the first spring you have been free from it since we were acquainted. I am afraid you will get so well, and fat, and young, as to be wanting to marry again. – Abraham Lincoln

And, inasmuch [as] most good things are produced by labour, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To [secure] to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government. – Abraham Lincoln

Anxiety beclouds the future. – Abraham Lincoln

Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. – Abraham Lincoln

Any society that takes away from those most capable and gives to the least will perish. – Abraham Lincoln

Anybody will do for you, but not for me. – Abraham Lincoln

As a general rule never take your whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the same interest in the case, as if something was still in prospect for you, as well as for your client. – Abraham Lincoln

As a general rule, I abstain from reading reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly offer an answer. – Abraham Lincoln

As a nation we began by declaring that all me are created equal. We now practically read it, all men are created equal except Negroes. – Abraham Lincoln

As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. – Abraham Lincoln

As an individual who undertakes to live by borrowing, soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and next no one left to borrow from – so must it be with a government. – Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. – Abraham Lincoln

As labor is the common burden of our race, so the effort of some to shift their share of the burden onto the shoulders of others is the great durable curse of the race. – Abraham Lincoln

As long as the Almighty permitted intelligent men, created in his image and likeness, to fight in public and kill each other while the world looks on approvingly, it’s not for me to deprive the chickens of the same privilege. – Abraham Lincoln

As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. – Abraham Lincoln

As our case is new, we must think and act anew. -Abraham Lincoln

As President, I have no eyes but constitutional eyes; I cannot see you. – Abraham Lincoln

As the chief speaker at the dedication of the national cemetery at the Gettysburg Battlefield, statesman Edward Everett wrote to Lincoln: I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes. – Abraham Lincoln

As the problems are new, we must disenthrall ourselves from the past. – Abraham Lincoln

As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affectation if I were to begin it now? – Abraham Lincoln

As to your kind wishes for myself, allow me to say I can not enter the ring on the money basis–first, because, in the main, it is wrong; and secondly, I have not, and can not get, the money. I say, in the main, the use of money is wrong; but for certain objects, in a political contest, the use of some, is both right, and indispensable. – Abraham Lincoln

As we keep or break the Sabbath Day we nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope by which man rises. – Abraham Lincoln

At 50, if you are on a diet on your birthday, you can’t eat a piece of your birthday cake. So grab two, a piece in each hand and, lo and behold, you will be on a balanced diet! Happy birthday, old chum! – Abraham Lincoln

At the beginning of the war, and for some time, the use of colored troops was not contemplated; and how the change of purpose was wrought, I will not now take time to explain. Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that element of strength to account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the christian world, to history, and on my final account to God. – Abraham Lincoln

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. – Abraham Lincoln

Avoid popularity if you would have peace. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

“There are too many pigs for the teats” – Abraham Lincoln

Bad promises are better broken than kept. – Abraham Lincoln

Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets. – Abraham Lincoln

Be excellent and party on dudes. – Abraham Lincoln

Be not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward. – Abraham Lincoln

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. – Abraham Lincoln

Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

Beavers build houses; but they build them in nowise differently, or better now, than they did, five thousand years ago. Ants, and honey-bees, provide food for winter; but just in the same way they did, when Solomon referred the sluggard to them as patterns of prudence. Man is not the only animal who labors; but he is the only one who improves his workmanship. – Abraham Lincoln

Behind the cloud the sun is still shining. – Abraham Lincoln

Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected. – Abraham Lincoln

Being President is like the man who was tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail… A man in the crowd asked how he liked it, and his reply was that if it wasn’t for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk. – Abraham Lincoln

Believing everybody is dangerous, but believing nobody is more dangerous. – Abraham Lincoln

Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite – Abraham Lincoln

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to speak out and confirm that you didn’t do the assigned readings before the strategic planning retreat. – Abraham Lincoln

Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories. – Abraham Lincoln

Biographies, as generally written, are not only misleading but false… In most instances, they commemorate a lie and cheat posterity out of the truth. – Abraham Lincoln

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all. – Abraham Lincoln

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all. – Abraham Lincoln

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. – Abraham Lincoln

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. – Abraham Lincoln

Bring me Longstreet’s head on a platter and the war will be over – Abraham Lincoln

But fight we must; and conquer we shall; in the end. – Abraham Lincoln

But for that Book, we could not know right from wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

But if the judge continues to put forward the declaration that there is an unholy, unnatural alliance between the Republicans and the National Democrats, I now want to enter my protest against receiving him as an entirely competent witness upon the subject. – Abraham Lincoln

But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. – Abraham Lincoln

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or to detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. – Abraham Lincoln

But let the past as nothing be. For the future my view is that the fight must go on. – Abraham Lincoln

But where is the philosophy or statesmanship which assumes that you can quiet that disturbing element in our society which has disturbed us for more than half a century, which has been the only serious danger that has threatened our institutions–I say, where is the philosophy or the statesmanship based on the assumption that we are to quit talking about it, and that the public mind is all at once to cease being agitated by it? – Abraham Lincoln

But, slavery is good for some people! ! ! As a good thing, slavery is strikingly peculiar, in this, that it is the only good thing which no man ever seeks the good of, for himself. – Abraham Lincoln

By all means, don’t say, “if I can,” say “I will.” – Abraham Lincoln

By the ‘mud-sill’ theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a tread-mill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be — all the better for being blind, that he could not tread out of place, or kick understandingly. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious, and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all. – Abraham Lincoln

By what principle of original right is it that one-fiftieth or one-ninetieth of a great nation, by calling themselves a State, have the right to break up and ruin that nation as a matter of original principle? – Abraham Lincoln

Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you. – Abraham Lincoln

Capital has its proper place and is entitled to every protection. The wages of men should be recognized in the structure of and in the social order as more important than the wages of money [interest]. – Abraham Lincoln

Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other right. – Abraham Lincoln

Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. – Abraham Lincoln

Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed had not labor first existed. – Abraham Lincoln

Care for him who shall have borne the battle – Abraham Lincoln

Certainly there is no contending against the Will of God; but still there is some difficulty in ascertaining, and applying it, to particular cases. – Abraham Lincoln

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Character is like a tree, and reputation is like its shadow. – Abraham Lincoln

Character is the tree, reputation is the shadow. – Abraham Lincoln

Cling to liberty and right; battle fro them; leed for them; die for them, if need be; and have confidence in God. – Abraham Lincoln

Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality… Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism. – Abraham Lincoln

Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. – Abraham Lincoln

Committee: A group which succeeds in getting something done only when it consists of three members, one of whom happens to be sick and another absent. – Abraham Lincoln

Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them. – Abraham Lincoln

Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be, as the egg is to the fowl; we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. – Abraham Lincoln

Confused and Stunned, like a duck hit on the head. – Abraham Lincoln

Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damages morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hung – Abraham Lincoln

Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever-it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself. – Abraham Lincoln

Dear Madam,I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully. – Abraham Lincoln

Dear Sir: Yours of the 24th. asking ‘the best mode of obtaining a thorough knowledge of the law’ is received. The mode is very simple, though laborious, and tedious. It is only to get the books, and read, and study them carefully. Begin with Blackstone’s Commentaries, and after reading it carefully through, say twice, take up Chitty’s Pleading, Greenleaf’s Evidence, & Story’s Equity &c. in succession. Work, work, work, is the main thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Democracy is “government of, by and for the people”. – Abraham Lincoln

Destroy your enemy by making him your friend. – Abraham Lincoln

Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then… find the way. – Abraham Lincoln

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. – Abraham Lincoln

Did Stanton say I was a damned fool? Then I dare say I must be one, for Stanton is generally right and he always says what he means. – Abraham Lincoln

Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow. – Abraham Lincoln

Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow. – Abraham Lincoln

Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most. – Abraham Lincoln

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. – Abraham Lincoln

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. – Abraham Lincoln

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. – Abraham Lincoln

Do I not damage my enemies after i make them my close friends? – Abraham Lincoln

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? – Abraham Lincoln

Do not destroy that immortal emblem of humanity, the Declaration of Independence. – Abraham Lincoln

Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. – Abraham Lincoln

Do you think we choose the times into which we are born? Or do we fit the times we are born into? – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t be fooled. I kept all my workout clothes in that top hat. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t judge a man by the size of his ego or his heart, but on the epicness of his beard and the beautiful woman on his arm – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t kneel to me, that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t pray that God’s on our side, pray that we’re on his side. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t swap horses in crossing a stream. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream. – Abraham Lincoln

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition. – Abraham Lincoln

Doubtless you begin to understand how disagreeable it is to me to do a thing arbitrarily, when it is unsatisfactory to others associated with me. – Abraham Lincoln

Each man shall do precisely as he pleases with himself, and with all those things which exclusively concern him. – Abraham Lincoln

Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave. – Abraham Lincoln

Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States – old as well as new – North as well as South. – Abraham Lincoln

Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. – Abraham Lincoln

Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters. – Abraham Lincoln

Ere long the most valuable of all arts will be the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil. No community where every member possesses the art can ever be the victim of oppression in any of its forms. – Abraham Lincoln

Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure. – Abraham Lincoln

Every head should be cultivated. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man has a right to be equal with every other man. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man is born an original, but sadly, most men die copies. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man is proud of what he does well; and no man is proud of what he does not do well. With the former, his heart is in his work; and he will do twice as much of it with less fatigue. The latter performs a little imperfectly, looks at it in disgust, turns from it, and imagines himself exceedingly tired. The little he has done, comes to nothing, for want of finishing. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man over forty is responsible for his face. – Abraham Lincoln

Every man’s happiness is his own responsibility. – Abraham Lincoln

Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old. – Abraham Lincoln

Every person is responsible for his own looks after 40. – Abraham Lincoln

Everybody appreciates a compliment. – Abraham Lincoln

Everybody likes a compliment. – Abraham Lincoln

Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. – Abraham Lincoln

Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. – Abraham Lincoln

Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will. – Abraham Lincoln

Familiarize yourself with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. – Abraham Lincoln

Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you. – Abraham Lincoln

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. – Abraham Lincoln

Fellow countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first…The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. – Abraham Lincoln

Few can be induced to labor exclusively for posterity; and none will do it enthusiastically. Posterity has done nothing for us; and theorize on it as we may, practically we shall do very little for it, unless we are made to think we are at the same time doing something for ourselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Fondly do we hope, ferverently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. – Abraham Lincoln

For it has been said, all that a man hath will he give for his life; and while all contribute of their substance the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. The highest merit, then is due to the soldier. – Abraham Lincoln

For my part, I desire to see the time when education – and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry – shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period. – Abraham Lincoln

For several years past the revenues of the government have been unequal to its expenditures, and consequently loan after loan, sometimes direct and sometimes indirect in form, has been resorted to. By this means a new national debt has been created, and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to contemplate–a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in a time of war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing unwillingness either to increase the tariff or resort to direct taxation. But the one or the other must come. Coming expenditures must be met, and the present debt must be paid; and money cannot always be borrowed for these objects. The system of loans is but temporary in its nature, and must soon explode. It is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must soon fail and leave us destitute. As an individual who undertakes to live by borrowing soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and, next, no one left to borrow from, so must it be with a government. We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe this alternative is now denied by no one. – Abraham Lincoln

For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like. – Abraham Lincoln

Force is all conquering, but it’s victories are short lived. – Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven days is too long between massages. – Abraham Lincoln

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. – Abraham Lincoln

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln

Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope. The power of hope upon human exertion, and happiness, is wonderful. The slave-master himself has a conception of it; and hence the system of tasks among slaves. The slave whom you can not drive with the lash to break seventy-five pounds of hemp in a day, if you will task him to break a hundred, and promise him pay for all he does over, he will break you a hundred and fifty. You have substituted hope, for the rod. And yet perhaps it does not occur to you, that to the extent of your gain in the case, you have given up the slave system, and adopted the free system of labor. – Abraham Lincoln

Friends, I agree with you in Providence; but I believe in the Providence of the most men, the largest purse, and the longest cannon. – Abraham Lincoln

Friendship is the start for what you call love. – Abraham Lincoln

From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide. – Abraham Lincoln

Gen. Schurz thinks I was a little cross in my late note to you. If I was, I ask pardon. If I do get up a little temper I have no sufficient time to keep it up. – Abraham Lincoln

Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope, would you shake the cable, or keep shouting out to him Blondin, stand up a little straighter Blondin, stoop a little more go a little faster lean a little more to the north lean a little more to the south? No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over. The Government are carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Don’t badger them. Keep silence, and well get you safe across. – Abraham Lincoln

Get books, sit yourself down anywhere, and go to reading them yourself. – Abraham Lincoln

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. -Abraham Lincoln

Glory to God in the highest, Ohio has saved the Nation. – Abraham Lincoln

Gold is good in its place; but loving, brave, patriotic men are better than gold. – Abraham Lincoln

Gratefully accepting the proffered honor, [to inscribe a new legal work to him] I give the leave, begging only that the inscription may be in modest terms, not representing me as a man of great learning, or a very extraordinary one in any respect. – Abraham Lincoln

Great distance in either time or space has wonderful power to lull and render quiescent the human mind. – Abraham Lincoln

Great men are ordinary men with extra ordinary determination. – Abraham Lincoln

Half finished work generally proves to be labor lost. – Abraham Lincoln

Has it popular sovereignty not got down as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death? – Abraham Lincoln

Have I not destroyed my enemy when I have made him into my friend? – Abraham Lincoln

Having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts. – Abraham Lincoln

He [Stephen Douglas] is blowing out the moral lights around us, when he contends that whoever wants slaves has a right to hold them; that he is penetrating, so far as lies in his power, the human soul, and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty, when he is in every possible way preparing the public mind, by his vast influence, for making the institution of slavery perpetual and national. – Abraham Lincoln

He bores me. He ought to have stuck to his flying machine. – Abraham Lincoln

He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. – Abraham Lincoln

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met. – Abraham Lincoln

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help. – Abraham Lincoln

He has got the slows, Mr. Blair. – Abraham Lincoln

He reminds me of the man who murdered both his parents, and then when the sentence was about to be pronounced, pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was orphan. – Abraham Lincoln

He said that he felt like the boy that stumped his toe,it hurt too bad to laugh, and he was too big to cry. – Abraham Lincoln

He who does something at the head of one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred. – Abraham Lincoln

He who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him. – Abraham Lincoln

He who molds the public sentiment… makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to make. – Abraham Lincoln

He who represents himself has a fool for a client – Abraham Lincoln

He who sees cruelty and does nothing about it is himself cruel. – Abraham Lincoln

He who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. – Abraham Lincoln

He will have to learn, I know, that all people are not just- that all men and women are not true. Teach him that for every scoundrel there is a hero that for every enemy there is a friend. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest people to lick. – Abraham Lincoln

Henry Clay is dead. His long and eventful life is closed. Our country is prosperous and powerful; but could it have been quite all it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry Clay? Such a man the times have demanded, and such in the providence of God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that in future national emergencies He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security. – Abraham Lincoln

His argument is as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by oiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death. – Abraham Lincoln

History is not history unless it is the truth. – Abraham Lincoln

Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible. – Abraham Lincoln

Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause. – Abraham Lincoln

Honor to the Soldier, and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his countrys cause. Honor also to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field, and serves, as he best can, the same causehonor to him, only less than to him, who braves, for the common good, the storms of heaven and the storms of battle. – Abraham Lincoln

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

How many legs does a dog have, if you call his tail a leg? The answer is four, because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

How many times have I laughed at you telling me plainly that I was too lazy to be anything but a lawyer. – Abraham Lincoln

Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. – Abraham Lincoln

Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged. – Abraham Lincoln

Human-nature will not change. – Abraham Lincoln

Hypocrite: The man who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

I … ran for Legislature [in 1832] … and was beaten-the only time I have been beaten by the people. – Abraham Lincoln

I affect no contempt for the high eminence he [Senator Stephen Douglas] has reached. So reached, that the oppressed of my species,might have shared with me in the elevation, I would rather stand on that eminence, than wear the richest crown that ever pressed a monarch’s brow. – Abraham Lincoln

I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that the working men are the basis of all governments, for the plain reason that they are the more numerous, and as you added that those were the sentiments of the gentlemen present, representing not only the working class, but citizens of other callings than those of the mechanic, I am happy to concur with you in these sentiments, not only of the native born citizens, but also of the Germans and foreigners from other countries. – Abraham Lincoln

I always [or “often”] walk slowly, but I never walk backwards. – Abraham Lincoln

I always remember the prayers of my mother as they always forever. – Abraham Lincoln

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. – Abraham Lincoln

I am a little uneasy about the abolishment of slavery in this District of Columbia. – Abraham Lincoln

I am a moderate walker, however I never stroll back. – Abraham Lincoln

I am a patient man–always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance, and also to give ample time for repentance. Still, I must save this government, if possible. What I cannot do, of course I will not do, but it may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not surrender this game leaving any available card unplayed. – Abraham Lincoln

I am a slow walker, but I never walk back. – Abraham Lincoln

I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down… – Abraham Lincoln

I am absent altogether too much to be a suitable instructor for a law-student. When a man has reached the age that Mr. Widner has,and has already been doing for himself, my judgment is, that he reads the books for himself without an instructor. That is precisely the way I came to the law. – Abraham Lincoln

I am afraid of the result upon organized action where great results are in view, if any of us allow ourselves to seek out minor or separate points, on which there may be difference of views as to policy and right, and let them keep us from uniting in action upon a great principle in a cause on which we all agree. – Abraham Lincoln

I am always for the man who wishes to work. – Abraham Lincoln

I am an optimist because I don’t see the point in being anything else. – Abraham Lincoln

I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. … I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me… These are not, however, the days of miracles … I must study the plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right. – Abraham Lincoln

I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and perhaps in some respects both. – Abraham Lincoln

I am busily engaged in study of the Bible. – Abraham Lincoln

I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle. – Abraham Lincoln

I am for . . . each individual doing just as he chooses in all matters which concern nobody else. – Abraham Lincoln

I am for liberty of conscience in its noblest, broadest, and highest sense. But I cannot give liberty of conscience to the pope and his followers, the papists, so long as they tell me, through all their councils, theologians, and canon laws that their conscience orders them to burn my wife, strangle my children, and cut my throat when they find their opportunity. – Abraham Lincoln

I am for the people of the whole nation doing just as they please in all matters which concern the whole nation; for that of each part doing just as they choose in all matters which concern no other part; and for each individual doing just as he chooses in all matters which concern nobody else. – Abraham Lincoln

I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number. – Abraham Lincoln

I am glad to know that there is a system of labor where the laborer can strike if he wants to! I would like to God that such a system prevailed all over the world- Abraham Lincoln

I am glad to know that there is a system of labor where the laborer can strike if he wants to. I wish to God that such a system prevailed all over the world. – Abraham Lincoln

I am glad to see that a system of labor prevails under which laborers can strike when they want to. – Abraham Lincoln

I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country. – Abraham Lincoln

I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by my friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. – Abraham Lincoln

I am in favor of a national bank…in favor of the internal improvements system and a high protective tariff. – Abraham Lincoln

I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being. – Abraham Lincoln

I am like a man so busy in letting rooms in one end of his house, that he can’t stop to put out the fire that is burning the other. – Abraham Lincoln

I am much indebted to the good Christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. – Abraham Lincoln

I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. – Abraham Lincoln

I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think and feel. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not a very sentimental man; and the best sentiment I can think of is, that if you collect the signatures of all persons who are no less distinguished than I, you will have a very undistinguishing mass of names. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not accustomed to the language of eulogy. I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women. But I must say, that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not an accomplished lawyer. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races…. I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior assigned to the white race. – Abraham Lincoln

I am nothing, truth is everything. – Abraham Lincoln

I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me. – Abraham Lincoln

I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were felt by the whole human race, there would not be one cheerful face left on earth. – Abraham Lincoln

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot. – Abraham Lincoln

I am rather inclined to silence. – Abraham Lincoln

I am satisfied that when the Almighty wants me to do or not do any particular thing, He finds a way of letting me know it – Abraham Lincoln

I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel, very hard to scratch any thing on it and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out. – Abraham Lincoln

I am slow to listen to criminations among friends, and never espouse their quarrels on either side. My sincere wish is that both sides will allow bygones to be bygones, and look to the present & future only. – Abraham Lincoln

I am superstitious. I have scarcely known a party, preceding an election, to call in help from the neighboring states, but they lost the state. – Abraham Lincoln

I am the president of the United States of America, clothed in immense power! You will procure me those votes! – Abraham Lincoln

I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call, but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. – Abraham Lincoln

I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it. – Abraham Lincoln

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other mans rights that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interfere with the right of no other State, and that the general government, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than that general class of things that does concern the whole. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe I shall never be old enough to speak without embarrassment when I have nothing to talk about. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe it is universally understood and acknowledged that all men will ever act correctly, unless they have a motive to do otherwise. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe that people should fight for what they believe and only what they believe. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe that the Supreme Court and the advocates of that decision may search in vain for the place in the Constitution where the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe the declaration that ‘all men are created equal’ is the great fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall into this vice. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. – Abraham Lincoln

I can express all my views on the slavery question by quotations from Henry Clay. – Abraham Lincoln

I can make a General in five minutes but a good horse is hard to replace. – Abraham Lincoln

I can make brigadier generals, but i can’t make horses. – Abraham Lincoln

I can make more generals, but horses cost money. – Abraham Lincoln

I can not deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause that we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. – Abraham Lincoln

I can only say that I have acted upon my best convictions, without selfishness or malice, and that by the help of God I shall continue to do so. – Abraham Lincoln

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God. – Abraham Lincoln

I cannot bring myself to believe that any human being lives who would do me any harm. – Abraham Lincoln

I cannot but express gratitude that the true view of this element of discord among us–as I believe it is–is attracting more and more attention. – Abraham Lincoln

I cannot imagine anyone looking at the sky and denying God. – Abraham Lincoln

I cannot make it better known than it already is that I strongly favor colonization. – Abraham Lincoln

I cannot speak so confidently about the fighting qualities of the Eastern men, or what are called Yankees – not knowing myself particularly to whom the appellation belongs – but this I do know – if the Southerners think that man for man they are better than our Illinois men, or western men generally, they will discover themselves in a grievous mistake. – Abraham Lincoln

I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. – Abraham Lincoln

I can’t spare this man, he fights! – Abraham Lincoln

I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it – Abraham Lincoln

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. – Abraham Lincoln

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God. – Abraham Lincoln

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. – Abraham Lincoln

I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down but I bite my lip and keep quiet. – Abraham Lincoln

I confess, when I propose a certain measure of policy, it is not enough for me that I do not intend anything evil in the result, but it is incumbent on me to show that it has not a tendency to that result. – Abraham Lincoln

I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the army. – Abraham Lincoln

I could not have slept tonight if I had left that helpless little creature to perish on the ground. – Abraham Lincoln

I could not sleep when I got on such a hunt for an idea until I had caught it; …This was a kind of passion with me, and it has stuck by me; for I am never easy now, when I am handling a thought, till I have bounded it north, and bounded it south, and bounded it east, and bounded it west. – Abraham Lincoln

I could not sleep when I got on the hunt for an idea, until I had caught it. This was a kind of passion with me, and it has stuck with me. – Abraham Lincoln

I could write shorter sermons but when I get started I’m too lazy to stop – Abraham Lincoln

I couldn’t be two faced. If I had two faces, I wouldn’t wear this one. – Abraham Lincoln

I dared not trust the case on the presumption that the court knows everything. In fact, I argued it on the presumption that the court didn’t know anything. – Abraham Lincoln

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of Ewer, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at st have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. – Abraham Lincoln

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end… I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. – Abraham Lincoln

I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry shall become much more general than at present. – Abraham Lincoln

I desire to so conduct the affairs of this administration that if, at the end … I have lost every friend on earth, I shall have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me. – Abraham Lincoln

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends. – Abraham Lincoln

I destroy my enemy if I make him my friend. – Abraham Lincoln

I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend. – Abraham Lincoln

I did say, at Chicago, in my speech there, that I do wish to see the spread of slavery arrested and to see it placed where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction. – Abraham Lincoln

I distrust the wisdom if not the sincerity of friends who would hold my hands while my enemies stab me. – Abraham Lincoln

I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” – Abraham Lincoln

I do not allow myself to suppose that either the convention or the League, have concluded to decide that I am either the greatest or the best man in America, but rather they have concluded it is not best to swap horses while crossing the river, and have further concluded that I am not so poor a horse that they might not make a botch of it in trying to swap. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not believe it is a constitutional right to hold slaves in a Territory of the United States. I believe the decision was improperly made, and I go for reversing it. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not boast that God is on my side, I humbly pray that I am on God’s side. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not deny the possibility that the people may err in an election; but if they do, the true [cure] is in the next election, and not in the treachery of the person elected. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not doubt that our country will finally come through safe and undivided. But do not misunderstand me… I do not rely on the patriotism of our people… the bravery and devotion of the boys in blue… (or) the loyalty and skill of our generals… But the God of our fathers, Who raised up this country to be the refuge and asylum of the oppressed and downtrodden of all nations, will not let it perish now. I may not live to see it… I do not expect to see it, but God will bring us through safe. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not mean to say that this general government is charged with the duty of redressing or preventing all the wrongs in the world; but I do think that it is charged with the duty of preventing and redressing all wrongs which are wrongs to itself. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not wish to be misunderstood upon this subject of slavery in this country. I suppose it may long exist, and perhaps the best way for it to come to an end peaceably is for it to exist for a length of time. But I say that the spread and strengthening and perpetuation of it is an entirely different proposition. There we should in every way resist it as a wrong, treating it as a wrong, with the fixed idea that it must and will come to an end. – Abraham Lincoln

I do the very best I can, I mean to keep going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If I’m wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won’t make a difference. – Abraham Lincoln

I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. – Abraham Lincoln

I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.

I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t like that man. I’m going to have to get to know him better. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t s’pose anybody on earth likes gingerbread better’n I do-and gets less’n I do. – Abraham Lincoln

I don’t want to be unjustly accused of dealing illiberally or unfairly with an adversary, either in court, or in a political canvass, or anywhere else. I would despise myself if I supposed myself ready to deal less liberally with an adversary than I was willing to be treated myself. – Abraham Lincoln

I dream of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln

I entertain the opinion, upon evidence sufficient to my mind, that the fathers of this government placed that institution where the public mind did rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction. Let me ask why they made provision that the source of slavery–the African slave-trade–should be cut off at the end of twenty years? Why did they make provision that in all the new territory we owned at that time, slavery should be forever inhibited? Why stop its spread in one direction and cut off its source in another, if they did not look to its being placed in the course of ultimate extinction? – Abraham Lincoln

I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me. – Abraham Lincoln

I failed, I failed, and that is about all that can be said about it. – Abraham Lincoln

I fear explanations explanatory of things explained. – Abraham Lincoln

I fear you do not fully comprehend the danger of abridging the liberties of the people. Nothing but the sternest necessity can ever justify it. A government had better go to the extreme of toleration, than to do aught that could be construed into an interference with, or to jeopardize in any degree, the common rights of its citizens. – Abraham Lincoln

I feel like the man who was tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. To the man who asked how he liked it he said: ‘If it wasn’t for the honour of the thing, I’d rather walk.’ – Abraham Lincoln

I find quite as much material for a lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in those wherein I have been moderately successful. – Abraham Lincoln

I freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of service – the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them. – Abraham Lincoln

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist in bearing its burdens. – Abraham Lincoln

I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great God, who assisted him, shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same omniscient mind and almighty arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail – I shall succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

I had been told I was on the road to hell, but I had no idea it was just a mile down the road with a dome on it. – Abraham Lincoln

I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. – Abraham Lincoln

I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world. – Abraham Lincoln

I have a congenital aversion to failure. – Abraham Lincoln

I have all the while maintained that in so far as it should be insisted that there was an equality between the white and black races that should produce a perfect social and political equality, it was an impossibility. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always been an old-line Henry Clay Whig. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always believed that a good laugh was good for both the mental and physical digestion. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any Abolitionist. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always hated slavery, I think, as much as any abolitionist. I have been an Old Line Whig. I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska Bill began. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. – Abraham Lincoln

I have always wanted to deal with everyone I meet candidly and honestly. If I have made any assertion not warranted by facts, and it is pointed out to me, I will withdraw it cheerfully. – Abraham Lincoln

I have an irrepressible desire to live till I can be assured that the world is a little better for my having lived in it. – Abraham Lincoln

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day. – Abraham Lincoln

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day. – Abraham Lincoln

I have been driven to my knees many times because there was no place else to go. – Abraham Lincoln

I have believed that in the Republican situation in Illinois, if we, the Republicans of this State, had made Judge Douglas our candidate for the Senate of the United States last year, and had elected him, there would today be no Republican party in this Union. I believe that the principles around which we have rallied and organized that party would live; they will live under all circumstances, while we will die. They would reproduce another party in the future. But in the meantime all the labor that has been done to build up the present Republican party would be entirely lost, and perhaps twenty years of time, before we would again have formed around that principle as solid, extensive, and formidable an organization as we have, standing shoulder to shoulder, tonight, in harmony and strength around the Republican banner. – Abraham Lincoln

I have come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason, I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me. – Abraham Lincoln

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it. – Abraham Lincoln

I have found that it is not entirely safe, when one is misrepresented under his very nose, to allow the misrepresentation to go uncontradicted. – Abraham Lincoln

I have found that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln

I have got you together to hear what I have written down. I do not wish your advice about the main matter for that I have determined for myself. – Abraham Lincoln

I have great respect for the semicolon; it is a mighty handy little fellow. – Abraham Lincoln

I have had so many evidences of [God’s] direction, so many instances when I have been controlled by some other power than my own will, that I cannot doubt that this power comes from above. – Abraham Lincoln

I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses, Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the Battle of Antietam that fatigues anything? – Abraham Lincoln

I have neither time nor disposition to enter into discussion with the Friend, and end this occasion by suggesting for her consideration the question whether, if it be true that the Lord has appointed me to do the work she has indicated, it is not probable that he would have communicated knowledge of the fact to me as well as to her. – Abraham Lincoln

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. – Abraham Lincoln

I have never had a feeling, politically, that did not spring from the Declaration of Independence that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence, I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it. – Abraham Lincoln

I have never manifested any impatience with the necessities that spring from the actual presence of black people amongst us, and the actual existence of slavery amongst us where it does already exist; but I have insisted that, in legislating for new countries where it does not exist, there is no just rule other than that of moral and abstract right. With reference to those new countries, those maxims as to the right of a people to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” were the just rules to be constantly referred to. There is no misunderstanding this, except by men interested to misunderstand it. – Abraham Lincoln

I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. – Abraham Lincoln

I have never united myself to any church because I found difficulty in giving my assent without mental reservation to the long, complicated statements of Christian doctrine which characterize the articles of belief and the usual confession of faith. – Abraham Lincoln

I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. – Abraham Lincoln

I have no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me. – Abraham Lincoln

I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that “it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.” – Abraham Lincoln

I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me. – Abraham Lincoln

I have really got it into my head to try to be United States Senator, and, if I could have your support, my chances would be reasonably good. But I know, and acknowledge, that you have as just claims to the place as I have; and therefore I cannot ask you to yield to me, if you are thinking of becoming a candidate, yourself. If, however, you are not, then I should like to be remembered affectionately by you; and also to have you make a mark for me with the Anti-Nebraska members down your way. – Abraham Lincoln

I have said a hundred times, and I have no inclination to take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and to interfere with the question of slavery at all. I have said that always. – Abraham Lincoln

I have seen your despatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bull-dog gripe, and chew & choke, as much as possible. – Abraham Lincoln

I have simply tried to do what seemed best each day, as each day came. – Abraham Lincoln

I have stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me, and in the arrangement I have the best of the bargain. – Abraham Lincoln

I have talked with great men, and I do not see how they differ from others. – Abraham Lincoln

I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe. – Abraham Lincoln

I have very large ideas of the mineral wealth of our Nation. I believe it practically inexhaustible. It abounds all over the western country, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, and its development has scarcely commenced. Immigration, which even the war has not stopped, will land upon our shores hundred of thousands more per year from overcrowded Europe. I intend to point them to the gold and silver that waits for them in the West. Tell the miners from me, that I shall promote their interests to the utmost of my ability; because their prosperity is the prosperity of the Nation, and we shall prove in a very few years that we are indeed the treasury of the world. – Abraham Lincoln

I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free states, due to the Union of the states, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox though it may seem) to let the slavery of the other states alone; while, on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear, that we should never knowingly lend ourselves directly or indirectly, to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death–to find new places for it to live in, when it can no longer exist in the old. – Abraham Lincoln

I hold that if the Almighty had ever made a set of men that should do all the eating and none of the work, he would have made them with mouths only and no hands, and if he had ever made another class that he intended should do all the work and none of the eating, he would have made them without mouths and with all hands. – Abraham Lincoln

I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind. – Abraham Lincoln

I hold the value of life is to improve one’s condition. Whatever is calculated to advance the condition of the honest, struggling laboring man, so far as my judgment will enable me to judge of a correct thing, I am for that thing. – Abraham Lincoln

I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. – Abraham Lincoln

I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny. – Abraham Lincoln

I hope it will not be irreverent in me to say, that if it be probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me – Abraham Lincoln

I hope nobody has understood me as trying to sustain the doctrine that we have a right to quarrel with Kentucky or Virginia, or any of the slave States, about the institution of slavery–thus giving the judge an opportunity to make himself eloquent and valiant against us in fighting for their rights. I expressly declared in my opening speech that I had neither the inclination to exercise, nor the belief in the existence of the right to interfere with the States of Kentucky or Virginia in doing as they pleased with slavery or any other existing institution. Then what becomes of all his eloquence in behalf of the rights of States, which are assailed by no living man? – Abraham Lincoln

I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country’s cause. – Abraham Lincoln

I insist, that if there is ANY THING which it is the duty of the WHOLE PEOPLE to never entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity, of their own liberties, and institutions. – Abraham Lincoln

I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free. – Abraham Lincoln

I intend no modification of my oft-expressed wish that all men everywhere could be free. – Abraham Lincoln

I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not. – Abraham Lincoln

I know something about aircraft carriers. And I can’t wait to tell this country that landing on an aircraft carrier doesn’t make up for the lack of an economic plan or a security plan for the United States of America. – Abraham Lincoln

I know that the LORD is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the LORDS side. – Abraham Lincoln

I know the hole he went in at, but I can’t tell you what hole he will come out of. – Abraham Lincoln

I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that his hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me – and I think He has – I believe I am ready. – Abraham Lincoln

I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all. – Abraham Lincoln

I learned a great many years ago that in a fight between husband and wife, a third party should never get between the woman’s skillet and the man’s ax-helve. – Abraham Lincoln

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. – Abraham Lincoln

I must keep some standard of principle fixed within myself. – Abraham Lincoln

I must run the machine as I find it. – Abraham Lincoln

I never did ask more, nor ever was willing to accept less, than for all the States, and the people thereof, to take and hold their places, and their rights, in the Union, under the Constitution of the United States. For this alone have I felt authorized to struggle; and I seek neither more nor less now. – Abraham Lincoln

I never encourage deceit, and falsehood, especially if you have got a bad memory, is the worst enemy a fellow can have. The fact is truth is your truest friend, no matter what the circumstances are. – Abraham Lincoln

I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day. – Abraham Lincoln

I never knew a man who wished to be himself a slave. Consider if you know any good thing, that no man desires for himself.

I never tire of reading Tom Paine. – Abraham Lincoln

I never trusted a man who never smoked or drank. – Abraham Lincoln

I never went to school more than six months in my life, but I can say this: that among my earliest recollections, I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand. – Abraham Lincoln

I pass my life in preventing the storm from blowing down the tent, and I drive in the pegs as fast as they are pulled up. – Abraham Lincoln

I perhaps ought to say that individually I never was much interested in the Texas question. I never could see much good to come of annexation, inasmuch as they were already a free republican people on our own model. – Abraham Lincoln

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. – Abraham Lincoln

I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother. – Abraham Lincoln

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. – Abraham Lincoln

I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that ‘while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the Acts of Congress.’ If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it an Executive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it. – Abraham Lincoln

I say now, however, as I have all the while said, that on the territorial question – that is, the question of extending slavery under the national auspices, – I am inflexible. I am for no compromise which assists or permits the extension of the institution on soil owned by the nation. – Abraham Lincoln

I say today, that we will have no end to the slavery agitation until it takes one turn or the other. I do not mean that when it takes a turn toward ultimate extinction it will be in a day, nor in a year, nor in two years. I do not suppose that in the most peaceful way ultimate extinction would occur in less than a hundred years at least; but that it will occur in the best way for both races, in God’s own good time, I have no doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

I say ‘try’; if we never try, we shall never succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

I say, then, there is no way of putting an end to the slavery agitation amongst us but to put it back upon the basis where our fathers placed it, no way but to keep it out of our new Territories–to restrict it forever to the old States where it now exists. Then the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction. That is one way of putting an end to the slavery agitation. The other way is for us to surrender and let Judge Douglas and his friends have their way and plant slavery over all the States–cease speaking of it as in any way a wrong–regard slavery as one of the common matters of property, and speak of negroes as we do of our horses and cattle. – Abraham Lincoln

I see a very dark cloud on America’s horizon, and that cloud is coming from Rome. – Abraham Lincoln

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. – Abraham Lincoln

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed. – Abraham Lincoln

I shall adopt new views as fast as they shall appear to be true views. – Abraham Lincoln

I shall always think of myself first and foremost… as a hunter. – Abraham Lincoln

I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this his almost chosen people. – Abraham Lincoln

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. – Abraham Lincoln

I shall not do more than I can, and I shall do all I can to save the government, which is my sworn duty as well as my personal inclination. I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing. – Abraham Lincoln

I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be new views. – Abraham Lincoln

I should like to know if, taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, you begin making exceptions to it, where will you stop? If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? – Abraham Lincoln

I soon began to dream. … I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. … I left my bed and wandered downstairs. … There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers, ‘The President,’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin.” – Abraham Lincoln

I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. – Abraham Lincoln

I take it these people have some sense; they see plainly that Judge Douglas is playing cuttlefish, a small species of fish that has no mode of defending itself when pursued except by throwing out a black fluid, which makes the water so dark the enemy cannot see it, and thus it escapes. – Abraham Lincoln

I then thought him one of the most diffident and worst plagued men I ever saw. – Abraham Lincoln

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. – Abraham Lincoln

I think I stand where that man stands. – Abraham Lincoln

I think that God means that we shall do more than we have yet done in furtherance of his plans and he will open the way for our doing it. – Abraham Lincoln

I think that if anything can be proved by natural theology, it is that slavery is morally wrong. God gave man a mouth to receive bread, hands to feed it, and his hand has a right to carry bread to his mouth without controversy. – Abraham Lincoln

I think that one of the causes of these repeated failures is that our best and greatest men have greatly underestimated the size of this question (slavery). They have constantly brought forward small cures for great sores-plasters too small to cover the wound. That is one reason that all settlements have proved so temporary-so evanescent. – Abraham Lincoln

I think that slavery is wrong, morally, socially and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union. – Abraham Lincoln

I think the authors of that notable instrument [the Declaration of Independence] intended to include all men. – Abraham Lincoln

I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. – Abraham Lincoln

I think very much of the people, as an old friend said he thought of woman. He said when he lost his first wife, who had been a great help to him in his business, he thought he was ruined that he could never find another to fill her place. At length, however, he married another, who he found did quite as well as the first, and that his opinion now was that any woman would do well who was well done by. So I think of the whole people of this nation they will ever do well if well done by. We will try to do well by them in all parts of the country, North and South, with entire confidence that all will be well with all of us. – Abraham Lincoln

I told myself, “Lincoln, you can never make a lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means.” So I left my situation in Springfield, went home to my father’s house, and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what “demonstrate” means, and went back to my law studies. – Abraham Lincoln

I trust that as He shall further open the way, I will be ready to walk therein, relying on His help and trusting in His goodness and wisdom. – Abraham Lincoln

I turn, then, and look to the American people and to that God who has never forsaken them. – Abraham Lincoln

I understand a ship to be made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo, and so long as the ship can be saved, with the cargo, it should never be abandoned. This Union likewise should never be abandoned unless it fails and the possibility of its preservation shall cease to exist, without throwing passengers and cargo overboard. – Abraham Lincoln

I understand that it is a maxim of law, that a poor plea may be a good plea to a bad declaration. – Abraham Lincoln

I walk slowly, but I never walk backward. – Abraham Lincoln

I walk slowly, but never backwards. – Abraham Lincoln

I want in all cases to do right. – Abraham Lincoln

I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow. – Abraham Lincoln

I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life. – Abraham Lincoln

I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families–second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks…. My father … removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year…. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all. – Abraham Lincoln

I was elected a Captain of Volunteers–a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. – Abraham Lincoln

I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known. – Abraham Lincoln

I was raised to farm work. – Abraham Lincoln

I went yesterday to hunt the little plaid stockings, as you wished; but found that McKnight has quit business, and Allen had not a single pair of the description you give, and only one plaid pair of any sort that I thought would fit “Eddy’s dear little feet.” I have a notion to make another trial tomorrow morning. – Abraham Lincoln

I will be frank. The taste is in my mouth … – Abraham Lincoln

I will do what I think is right and when I discover that it is wrong, I will change it. – Abraham Lincoln

I will either be America’s greatest president or its last. – Abraham Lincoln

I will learn, the opportunity will come. – Abraham Lincoln

I will prepare and some day my chance will come. – Abraham Lincoln

I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. – Abraham Lincoln

I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races: that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. – Abraham Lincoln

I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come. – Abraham Lincoln

I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It is not the Constitution as I would like to have it, but as it is, that is to be defended. The Constitution will not be preserved & defended until it is enforced & obeyed in every part of every one of the United States. It must be so respected, obeyed, enforced and defended, and let the grass grow where it may. – Abraham Lincoln

I wish all men to be free. I wish the material prosperity of the already free which I feel sure the extinction of slavery would bring. – Abraham Lincoln

I wish to return to Judge Douglas my profound thanks for his public annunciation here today to be put on record, that his system of policy in regard to the institution of slavery contemplates that it shall last forever. We are getting a little nearer the true issue of this controversy, and I am profoundly grateful for this one sentence. Judge Douglas asks you, “Why cannot the institution of slavery, or rather, why cannot the nation, part slave and part free, continue as our fathers made it forever?” In the first place, I insist that our fathers did not make this nation half slave and half free, or part slave and part free. I insist that they found the institution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time.

I wish you to remember, now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these states and the liberties of this people shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty for yourselves and not for me. I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office seekers, but with you, is the question: Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generations? – Abraham Lincoln

I would like to call upon his friends everywhere to consider how they have come in so short a time to view this matter in a way so entirely different from their former belief; to ask whether they are not being borne along by an irresistible current–whither, they know not. – Abraham Lincoln

I would like to speak in terms of praise due to the many brave officers and soldiers who have fought in the cause of the war. – Abraham Lincoln

I would rather be a little nobody, then to be a evil somebody. – Abraham Lincoln

I would rather be assassinated than see a single star removed from the American flag. – Abraham Lincoln

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was’. – Abraham Lincoln

I would then like to know how it comes about that when each piece of a story is true, the whole story turns out to be false? – Abraham Lincoln

I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down. – Abraham Lincoln

If 600,000 people have to die in order for the nation to live, then 600,000 people will die. – Abraham Lincoln

If a man had more than one life, I think a little hanging would not hurt this one; but after he is once dead, we cannot bring him back, no matter how sorry we may be; so the boy shall be pardoned. – Abraham Lincoln

If a man will stand up and assert, and repeat and reassert, that two and two do not make four, I know nothing in the power of argument that can stop him. – Abraham Lincoln

If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. Why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. – Abraham Lincoln

If all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union this voyage nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage. – Abraham Lincoln

If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. – Abraham Lincoln

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes — no other marks or brands recollected. – Abraham Lincoln

If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly, those who desire it for others – Abraham Lincoln

If as the friends of colonization hope, the present and coming generations of our countrymen shall by any means, succeed in freeing our land from the dangerous presence of slavery; and, at the same time, in restoring a captive people to their long-lost father-land, with bright prospects for the future; and this too, so gradually, that neither races nor individuals shall have suffered by the change, it will indeed be a glorious consummation. – Abraham Lincoln

If at any time all labour should cease, and all existing provisions be equally divided among the people, at the end of a single year there could scarcely be one human being left alive–all would have perished by want of subsistence. – Abraham Lincoln

If both factions, or neither, shall abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by one and praised by the other. – Abraham Lincoln

If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution. – Abraham Lincoln

If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. – Abraham Lincoln

If elected I shall be thankful; if not, it will be all the same. – Abraham Lincoln

If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and lone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. – Abraham Lincoln

If ever this free people, if this Government itself is ever utterly demoralized, it will come from this incessant human wriggle and struggle for office, which is but a way to live without work. – Abraham Lincoln

If friendship is your weakest point then you are the strongest person in the world. – Abraham Lincoln

If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it, is to die over and over again. – Abraham Lincoln

If I care to listen to every criticism, let alone act on them, then this shop may as well be closed for all other businesses. I have learned to do my best, and if the end result is good then I do not care for any criticism, but if the end result is not good, then even the praise of ten angels would not make the difference. – Abraham Lincoln

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would do that. I have here stated my purpose according to my official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free. – Abraham Lincoln

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it. – Abraham Lincoln

If I gave McClellan all the men he asked for, they could not find room to lie down; they’d have to sleep standing up. – Abraham Lincoln

If i get 8 hours to cut a tree i’ll spend 7 hours to sharp my knife. – Abraham Lincoln

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax. – Abraham Lincoln

If I have one vice and I can call it nothing else it is not able to say ‘no’. – Abraham Lincoln

If I like a thing, it just sticks after once reading it or hearing it. – Abraham Lincoln

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference. – Abraham Lincoln

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. – Abraham Lincoln

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one? – Abraham Lincoln

If it were not for my firm belief in an overruling Providence, it would be difficult for me, in the midst of such complications of affairs, to keep my reason on its seat. But I am confident that the Almighty has His plans, and will work them out; and, whether we see it or not, they will be the best for us. – Abraham Lincoln

If not re-elected in 1864— then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards. – Abraham Lincoln

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. – Abraham Lincoln

If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on. – Abraham Lincoln

If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

If the American people could learn what I know of the fierce hatred of the priests of Rome against our institutions, our schools, our most sacred rights, and our so dearly bought liberties, they would drive them out as traitors. – Abraham Lincoln

If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference. – Abraham Lincoln

If the good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to bevery much chagrined. – Abraham Lincoln

If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled just as surely as all other difficulties of like character which have originated in this government have been adjusted. – Abraham Lincoln

If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that ‘all men are created equal,’ and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another. – Abraham Lincoln

If the Republicans, who think slavery is wrong, get possession of the general government, we may not root out the evil at once, but may at least prevent its extension. If I find a venomous snake lying on the open praire, I seize the first stick and kill him at once. But if that snake is in bed with my children, I must be more cautious. I shall, in striking the snake, also strike the children, or arouse the reptile to bite the children. Slavery is the venomous snake in bed with the children. But if the question is whether to kill it on the prairie or put it in bed with other children, I think we’d kill it! – Abraham Lincoln

If the union of these States, and the liberties of this people, shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two yearsof age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. – Abraham Lincoln

If there is a worse place than Hell, I am in it. – Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance. – Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything that links the human to the divine, it is the courage to stand by a principle when everybody else rejects it. – Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own liberties and institutions. – Abraham Lincoln

If there is no military need for the building, leave it alone, neither putting anyone in or out of it, except on finding some one preaching or practicing treason, in which case lay hands on him, just as if he were doing the same thing in any other building. – Abraham Lincoln

If there should prove to be one real, living Free State Democrat in Kansas, I suggest that it might be well to catch him and stuff and preserve his skin as an interesting specimen of that soon-to-be-extinct variety of the genus Democrat. – Abraham Lincoln

If they do kill me, I shall never die another death. – Abraham Lincoln

If this country is ever demoralized, it will come from trying to live without work. – Abraham Lincoln

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee. -Abraham Lincoln

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it. – Abraham Lincoln

If we do not allow ourselves to be allured from the strict path of our duty by such a device as shifting our ground and throwing us into the rear of a leader who denies our first principle, denies that there is an absolute wrong in the institution of slavery, then the future of the Republican cause is safe, and victory is assured. – Abraham Lincoln

If we exchange one dollar, we both have one dollar each. But if we exchange one good thought, we both have two good thoughts. – Abraham Lincoln

If we have no friends, we have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose them, and be doubly pained by the loss. – Abraham Lincoln

If we know where we are and something about how we got there, we might see where we are trending – and if the outcomes which lie naturally in our course are unacceptable, to make timely change. – Abraham Lincoln

IF you are going to fight, don’t let them talk you into negotiating. But, if you are going to negotiate, don’t let them talk you into fighting. – Abraham Lincoln

If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already. – Abraham Lincoln

If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already. It is but a small matter whether you read with anyone or not. I did not read with anyone. Get the books, and read and study them till you understand them in their principal features; and that is the main thing. It is of no consequence to be in a large town while you are reading. I read at New Salem, which never had three hundred people living in it. The books, and your capacity for understanding them, are just the same in all places. – Abraham Lincoln

If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already. – Abraham Lincoln

If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have? Four, calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg. – Abraham Lincoln

If you collect the signatures of all persons who are no less distinguised than I, you will have a very undistinguishing mass of names. – Abraham Lincoln

If you do not like him, let him alone. If God gave him little, that little let him enjoy. – Abraham Lincoln

If you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully, – Abraham Lincoln

If you go to the Territory opposed to slavery, and another man comes upon the same ground with his slave, upon the assumption that the things are equal, it turns out that he has the equal right all his way, and you have no part of it your way. – Abraham Lincoln

If you have ever studied geometry, you remember that by a course of reasoning Euclid proves that all the angles in a triangle are equal to the two right angles. Euclid has shown how to work it out. Now, if you undertake to disprove that proposition, and to show that it is erroneus, would you prove it to be false by calling Euclid a liar? – Abraham Lincoln

If you have never failed you have never lived. – Abraham Lincoln

If you intend to go to work there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you can not get along anywhere. – Abraham Lincoln

If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place can do no good. – Abraham Lincoln

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will. – Abraham Lincoln

If you love something, set it free. – Abraham Lincoln

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln

If you think you can slander a woman into loving you, or a man into voting for you, try it till you are satisfied. – Abraham Lincoln

If you trust, you will be disappointed occasionally, but if you mistrust, you will be miserable all the time. – Abraham Lincoln

If you understand what you’re doing, you’re not learning anything. – Abraham Lincoln

if you want your name to be remembered after your death either do something worth writing or write some thing worth reading – Abraham Lincoln

If you wish to be a lawyer, attach no consequence to the place you are in, or the person you are with; but get books, sit down anywhere, and go to reading for yourself. That will make a lawyer of you quicker than any other way. – Abraham Lincoln

If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend. – Abraham Lincoln

If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. – Abraham Lincoln

If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what you will, is the great high-road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause. – Abraham Lincoln

Illinois surpasses every other spot of equal extent upon the face of the globe in fertility of soil and in the proportionable amount of the same which is sufficiently level for actual cultivation. – Abraham Lincoln

I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back. – Abraham Lincoln

I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down. – Abraham Lincoln

I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one. – Abraham Lincoln

Important principles may, and must, be inflexible. – Abraham Lincoln

In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border. – Abraham Lincoln

In a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he the president is the representative of the people. He is elected by them, as well as congress is. But can he, in the nature of things, know the wants of the people, as well as three hundred other men, coming from all the various localities of the nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a congress? – Abraham Lincoln

In all that people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. – Abraham Lincoln

In all three of these places, being the only allusion to slavery in the instrument, covert language is used. Language is used not suggesting that slavery existed or that the black race were among us. And I understand the contemporaneous history of those times to be that covert language was used with a purpose, and that purpose was that in our Constitution, which it was hoped, and is still hoped, will endure forever–when it should be read by intelligent and patriotic men, after the institution of slavery had passed from among us–there should be nothing on the face of the great charter of liberty suggesting that such a thing as negro slavery had ever existed among us. – Abraham Lincoln

In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. – Abraham Lincoln

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free. – Abraham Lincoln

In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

In my entire life I have only met four “perfect” people… and I disliked them all. – Abraham Lincoln

In order to win a man to your cause, you must first reach his heart, the great high road to his reason. – Abraham Lincoln

In so far as the government lands can be disposed of, I am in favor of cutting up the wild lands into parcels so that every poor man may have a home. – Abraham Lincoln

In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread; and since then, if we except the light and the air of heaven, no good thing has been, or can be enjoyed by us, without having first cost labour. And inasmuch as most good things are produced by labour, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To secure to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government. – Abraham Lincoln

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln

In the first place, I insist that our fathers did not make this nation half slave and half free, or part slave and part free. I insist that they found the institution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time. – Abraham Lincoln

In the way our Fathers originally left the slavery question, the institution was in the course of ultimate extinction, and the public mind rested in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction . . . . All I have asked or desired anywhere, is that it should be placed back again upon the basis that the Fathers of our government originally placed it upon. – Abraham Lincoln

In the world’s history certain inventions and discoveries occurred of peculiar value, on account of their great efficiency in facilitating all other inventions and discoveris. Of these were the art of writing and of printing, the discovery of America, and the introduction of patent laws. The date of the first … is unknown; but it certainly was as much as fifteen hundred years before the Christian era; the second-printing-came in 1436, or nearly three thousand years after the first. The others followed more rapidly-the discovery of America in 1492, and the first patent laws in 1624. – Abraham Lincoln

In this age, in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions. – Abraham Lincoln

In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement. – Abraham Lincoln

In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all, and to the young it comes with bittered agony because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to expect it. – Abraham Lincoln

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, and it comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible, except with the passing of time. – Abraham Lincoln

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and to the young, it comes with bitterest agony because it takes them unawares. I have had experience enough to know what I say. – Abraham Lincoln

In this troublesome world, we are never quite satisfied. When you were here, I thought you hindered me some in attending to business; but now, having nothing but business—no variety—it has grown exceedingly tasteless to me. I hate to sit down and direct documents, and I hate to stay in this old room by myself. – Abraham Lincoln

In those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in the making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it. – Abraham Lincoln

in times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity. – Abraham Lincoln

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it. – Abraham Lincoln

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty. – Abraham Lincoln

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. – Abraham Lincoln

Is it not a false statesmanship that undertakes to build up a system of policy upon the basis of caring nothing about the very thing that everybody does care the most about? – Abraham Lincoln

It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. – Abraham Lincoln

It doesn’t mater if you’re a slow walker, so long as you don’t walk backwards. – Abraham Lincoln

It follows as a matter of course that a half-hour answer to a speech of an hour and a half can be but a very hurried one. – Abraham Lincoln

It has been said of the world’s history hitherto that might makes right. It is for us and for our time to reverse the maxim, and to say that right makes might. – Abraham Lincoln

It has been said that one bad general is better than two good ones, and the saying is true if taken to mean no more than that an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior ones at variance and cross-purposes with each other. And the same is true in all joint operations wherein those engaged can have none but a common end in view and can differ only as to the choice of means. In a storm at sea no one on board can wish the ship to sink, and yet not unfrequently all go down together because too many will direct and no single mind can be allowed to control. – Abraham Lincoln

It has been said that one bad general is better than two good ones, and the saying is true if taken to mean no more than that an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior ones at variance and cross-purposes with each other. – Abraham Lincoln

It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. – Abraham Lincoln

It has long been a grave question whether any Government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies. The question still remains in doubt, although Great Britain and the United States have so far maintained their existence without abolishing the liberties of their people. – Abraham Lincoln

It has long been recognized that the problems with alcohol relate not to the use of a bad thing, but to the abuse of a good thing. – Abraham Lincoln

It has so happened in all ages of the world that some have labored, and others have, without labor, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. – Abraham Lincoln

It is a great piece of folly to attempt to make anything out of my early life. – Abraham Lincoln

It is a pleasure to be able to quote lines to fit any occasion. – Abraham Lincoln

It is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest. – Abraham Lincoln

It is bad to be poor. I shall go to the wall for bread and meat, if I neglect my business this year as well as last. – Abraham Lincoln

It is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. When one starts poor, as most do in the race of life, free society is such that he knows he can better his condition; he knows that there is no fixed condition of labor, for his whole life. I am not ashamed to confess that twenty-five years ago I was a hired laborer, mauling rails, at work on a flat-boat, just what might happen to any poor man’s son! I want every man to have the chance, and I believe a black man is entitled to it, in which he can better his condition. When he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him! That is the true system. – Abraham Lincoln

It is best not to swap horses while crossing the river. – Abraham Lincoln

It is better only sometimes to be right than at all times wrong – Abraham Lincoln

It is better then, to save the work while it is begun. You have done the labor; maintain it – keep it. If men choose to serve you, go with them; but as you have made up your organization upon principle, stand by it; for as surely as God reigns over you, and has inspired your mind, and given you a sense of propriety, and continues to give you hope, so surely will you still cling to these ideas, and you will at last come back after your wanderings, merely to do your work over again. – Abraham Lincoln

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

It is better, then, to save the work while it is begun. You have done the labor; maintain it, keep it. If men choose to serve you, go with them; but as you have made up your organization upon principle, stand by it; for, as surely as God reigns over you, and has inspired your mind, and given you a sense of propriety, and continues to give you hope, so surely will you still cling to these ideas, and you will at last come back after your wanderings, merely to do your work over again. – Abraham Lincoln

It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him. – Abraham Lincoln

It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him. – Abraham Lincoln

It is easiest to “be all things to all men,” but it is not honest. Self-respect must be sacrificed every hour in the day. – Abraham Lincoln

It is for us and our time…to say the right makes might. – Abraham Lincoln

It is most cheering and encouraging for me to know that in the efforts which I have made and am making for the restoration of a righteous peace to our country, I am upheld and sustained by the good wishes and prayers of God’s people. No one is more deeply than myself aware that without His favor our highest wisdom is but as foolishness and that our most strenuous efforts would avail nothing in the shadow of His displeasure. – Abraham Lincoln

It is much easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going. – Abraham Lincoln

It is my ambition and desire to so administer the affairs of the government while I remain President that if at the end I have lost every other friend on earth I shall at least have one friend remaining and that one shall be down inside me. – Abraham Lincoln

It is my pleasure that my children are free and happy, and unrestrained by parental tyranny. Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its parents. – Abraham Lincoln

It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river. – Abraham Lincoln

It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles – the oppression of tyranny – to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke than to add anything that would tend to crush them. – Abraham Lincoln

It is not our frowning battlements…or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land….Our defence is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. – Abraham Lincoln

It is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters who choose to vote, that constitute political power. – Abraham Lincoln

It is rather for us here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. – Abraham Lincoln

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, “And this too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! – Abraham Lincoln

It is the eternal struggle between these two principles – right and wrong. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time and will ever continue to struggle. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” – Abraham Lincoln

It is the man who does not want to express an opinion whose opinion I want. – Abraham Lincoln

It is the quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones. – Abraham Lincoln

It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. – Abraham Lincoln

It is with your aid, as the people, that I think we shall be able to preserve – not the country, for the country will preserve itself, but the institutions of the country – those institutions which have made us free, intelligent and happy – the most free, the most intelligent, and the happiest people on the globe. – Abraham Lincoln

It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me. I desire they shall be constitutionally preserved. – Abraham Lincoln

It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institutions we enjoy, have developed the powers, and improved the condition, of our whole people, beyond any example in the world. – Abraham Lincoln

It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces – Abraham Lincoln

It must now atone in blood for its complicity in wickedness. – Abraham Lincoln

It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

It strikes me there is some difference between holding a man responsible for an act which he has not done, and holding him responsible for an act that he has done. – Abraham Lincoln

It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence. – Abraham Lincoln

It would astonish if not amuse the older citizens to learn that I (a strange, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy, working at ten dollars per month) have been put down as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic family distinction. – Abraham Lincoln

It’s a party of hope for America. Lincoln gave Americans hope through equal opportunities for all. – Abraham Lincoln

It’s bad. It’s damned bad. – Abraham Lincoln

It’s not me who can’t keep a secret. It’s the people I tell that can’t. – Abraham Lincoln

It’s time for me to go. But I would rather stay. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Killing the dog does not cure the bite. – Abraham Lincoln

Judge Douglas and I have made perhaps forty speeches apiece, and we have now for the fifth time met face to face to debate, and up to this day I have not found either Judge Douglas or any friend of his taking hold of the Republican platform or laying his finger upon anything in it that is wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

Judge Douglas has again, for, I believe, the fifth time, if not the seventh, in my presence, reiterated his charge of a conspiracy or combination between the National Democrats and Republicans. What evidence Judge Douglas has upon this subject I know not, inasmuch as he never favors us with any. – Abraham Lincoln

Judge Douglas has said to you that he has not been able to get from me an answer to the question whether I am in favor of negro citizenship. So far as I know, the judge has never asked me the question before. – Abraham Lincoln

Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. – Abraham Lincoln

Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away. – Abraham Lincoln

Knavery and flattery are blood relations. – Abraham Lincoln

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. – Abraham Lincoln

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. – Abraham Lincoln

Labor is superior to capital and precedes capital. Without labor, there is no capital. – Abraham Lincoln

Labor is the great source from which nearly all, if not all, human comforts and necessities are drawn. – Abraham Lincoln

Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration – Abraham Lincoln

Labor is the true standard of value. – Abraham Lincoln

Lamon, that speech won’t scour. It is a flat failure and the people are disappointed. – Abraham Lincoln

Laughter can be used to sooth the mind and get rid of those awful thoughts. – Abraham Lincoln

Laughter is the joyous universal evergreen of life! – Abraham Lincoln

Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. – Abraham Lincoln

Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today. – Abraham Lincoln

Legislation and adjudication must follow, and conform to, the progress of society. – Abraham Lincoln

Let all Americans – let all lovers of liberty everywhere – join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union; but we shall have so saved it, as to make, and to keep it, forever worthy of the saving. – Abraham Lincoln

Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor–let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars. While ever a state of feeling such as this shall universally or even very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom. – Abraham Lincoln

Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

No law is stronger than is the public sentiment where it is to be enforced. – Abraham Lincoln

Let none falter who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fail, be it so: we still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country’s freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment and adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we never faltered in defending. – Abraham Lincoln

Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built. – Abraham Lincoln

Let the people know the truth and the country is safe. – Abraham Lincoln

Let the people on both sides keep their self-possession, and just as other clouds have cleared away in due time, so will this, and this great nation shall continue to prosper as before. – Abraham Lincoln

Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and, ere long, must be done again. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in bonds of fraternal feeling. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us hope that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it. Let north and south – let all Americans – let all lovers of liberty everywhere – join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union; but we shall have so saved it, as to make, and to keep it, forever worthy of the saving. We shall have so saved it, that the succeeding millions of free happy people, the world over, shall rise up, and call us blessed, to the latest generations. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us renew our trust in god, and go forward without fear. – Abraham Lincoln

Let us strive on to finish the work we are in. – Abraham Lincoln

Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. – Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln called laughter “the joyous, beautiful, universal evergreen of life.” – Abraham Lincoln

Liquor may have its defenders, but it has no defense. – Abraham Lincoln

Lonely men seek companionship. Lonely women sit at home and wait. They never meet. – Abraham Lincoln

Love is the chain to lock a child to its parent. – Abraham Lincoln

Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its parents. – Abraham Lincoln

Man is not the only animal who labors; but he is the only one who improves his workmanship. – Abraham Lincoln

Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but, if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her. – Abraham Lincoln

Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory. – Abraham Lincoln

May our children and our children’s children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers. – Abraham Lincoln

May the Almighty grant that the cause of truth, justice, and humanity, shall in no wise suffer at my hands. – Abraham Lincoln

Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. – Abraham Lincoln

Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told; and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it. – Abraham Lincoln

Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. – Abraham Lincoln

Military glory – that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood – Abraham Lincoln

Military glory-that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood-that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy. – Abraham Lincoln

Military necessity does not admit of cruelty – that is, the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, . . . nor of torture to extort confessions. – Abraham Lincoln

Money possesses no value to the state other than that given to it by circulation. – Abraham Lincoln

Money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace & conspire against it in times of adversity. – Abraham Lincoln

Moral principle is a looser bond than pecuniary interest. – Abraham Lincoln

Most folk are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln

Most people are as happy as they want to be. – Abraham Lincoln

Must a government be too strong for the liberties of its people or too weak to maintain its own existence? – Abraham Lincoln

Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence? – Abraham Lincoln

Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of the wily agitator who induces him to desert? I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional but withal a great mercy. – Abraham Lincoln

My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read. – Abraham Lincoln

My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. – Abraham Lincoln

My Dear McClellan, if you don’t want to use the army I should like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully. – Abraham Lincoln

My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln

My earlier views at the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them – Abraham Lincoln

My faith in the proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me. – Abraham Lincoln

My father taught me to work, but he did not teach me to love it. – Abraham Lincoln

My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work. – Abraham Lincoln

My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it. – Abraham Lincoln

My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh – anything but work. – Abraham Lincoln

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age; and he grew up, literally without education. – Abraham Lincoln

My father… removed from Kentucky to… Indiana, in my eighth year… It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up… Of course when I came of age, I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher… but that was all. – Abraham Lincoln

My friends I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. – Abraham Lincoln

My God! My God! What will the country say? – Abraham Lincoln

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. – Abraham Lincoln

My old father used to have a saying: If you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter. – Abraham Lincoln

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. – Abraham Lincoln

My paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not to either save or destroy Slavery. – Abraham Lincoln

My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families – second families, perhaps I should say. – Abraham Lincoln

My policy is to have no policy. – Abraham Lincoln

My wife is as handsome as when she was a girl, and I…fell in love with her; and what is more, I have never fallen out. – Abraham Lincoln

Nations do not die from invasion; they die from internal rottenness. – Abraham Lincoln

Nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. – Abraham Lincoln

Near eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for SOME men to enslave OTHERS is a “sacred right of self-government.” These principles can not stand together. They are as opposite as God and mammon; and whoever holds to the one, must despise the other. – Abraham Lincoln

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction … nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. – Abraham Lincoln

Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. – Abraham Lincoln

Never change horses in midstream. – Abraham Lincoln

Never do anything for anyone who can just as well do it themself. – Abraham Lincoln

Never forget that we have before us this whole matter of the right or wrong of slavery in this Union, though the immediate question is as to its spreading out into new Territories and States. – Abraham Lincoln

Never let your correspondence fall behind. – Abraham Lincoln

Never regret what you don’t write. – Abraham Lincoln

Never stir up litigation, a worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this, who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket? – Abraham Lincoln

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. – Abraham Lincoln

Nevertheless, amid the greatest difficulties of my Administration, when I could not see any other resort, I would place my whole reliance on God, knowing that all would go well, and that He would decide for the right. – Abraham Lincoln

Next came the Patent laws. These began in England in 1624; and, in this country, with the adoption of our constitution. Before then these?, any man might instantly use what another had invented; so that the inventor had no special advantage from his own invention. The patent system changed this; secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things. – Abraham Lincoln

Next to creating a life the finest thing a man can do is save one. – Abraham Lincoln

No client ever had money enough to bribe my conscience or to stop its utterance against wrong, and oppression. My conscience is my own – my creators – not man’s. I shall never sink the rights of mankind to the malice, wrong, or avarice of another’s wishes, though those wishes come to me in the relation of client and attorney. – Abraham Lincoln

No client ever had money enough to bribe my conscience or to stop its utterance against wrong, and oppression. – Abraham Lincoln

No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive. – Abraham Lincoln

No duty is more imperative for the government than the duty it; owes the people to furnish them with a sound and uniform currency, an of regulating the circulation of the medium of exchange so that labor will be protected from a vicious currency [private bank-created, interest-bearing debt], and commerce will be facilitated by cheap and safe exchanges. – Abraham Lincoln

No man ever got lost on a straight road. – Abraham Lincoln

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar. – Abraham Lincoln

No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar. – Abraham Lincoln

No man has a right to judge Andrew Johnson in any respect who has not suffered as much and done as much as he for the Nation’s sake. – Abraham Lincoln

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. – Abraham Lincoln

No man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent. I say this is the leading principle–the sheet anchor of American republicanism. – Abraham Lincoln

No man is poor who has a Godly mother. – Abraham Lincoln

no man who is resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention, still less can he afford to take the consequences, including the vitiation of his temper and the loss of self control, yield to larger things to which you show no more than equal rights, and yield to lesser ones though clearly your own, better give your path to a dog, than be bitten by him in contesting for the right, not even killing the dog, will cure the bite – Abraham Lincoln

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens. – Abraham Lincoln

No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle. – Abraham Lincoln

No one has needed favours more than I, and generally, few have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case, favour to me, would be injustice to the public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining it. – Abraham Lincoln

No organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. – Abraham Lincoln

No policy that does not rest upon some philosophical public opinion can be permanently maintained. – Abraham Lincoln

No State, upon it own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union. Resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally nothing. I therefore consider that the Union is unbroken. There needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless forced upon the national authority. – Abraham Lincoln

No state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union. Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy. – Abraham Lincoln

No. The mule has just four legs. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one. – Abraham Lincoln

Nobody has ever expected me to be President. In my poor, lean, lank face, nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting out. – Abraham Lincoln

None seemed to think the injury arose from the use of a bad thing but from the abuse of a very good thing – Abraham Lincoln

Nor must Uncle Sam’s Web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only on the deep sea, the broadbay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been, and made their tracks. – Abraham Lincoln

Nothing in this world is impossible to a willing heart. – Abraham Lincoln

Nothing is more damaging to you than to do something that you believe is wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

Nothing is stronger than gentleness. – Abraham Lincoln

Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me is a matter of profound wonder. – Abraham Lincoln

Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. – Abraham Lincoln

Nothing will divert me from my purpose. – Abraham Lincoln

Now a few words in regard to these extracts from speeches of mine which Judge Douglas has read to you, and which he supposes are in very great contrast to each other. Those speeches have been before the public for a considerable time, and if they have any inconsistency in them, if there is any conflict in them, the public have been able to detect it. When the judge says, in speaking on this subject, that I make speeches of one sort for the people of the northern end of the State, and of a different sort for the southern people, he assumes that I do not understand that my speeches will be put in print and read north and south. – Abraham Lincoln

Now I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil. – Abraham Lincoln

Now if you should hear any one say that Lincoln don’t [sic] want to go to Congress, I wish you as a personal friend of mine, would tell him that you have reason to believe he is mistaken. – Abraham Lincoln

Now my opinion is that the different States have the power to make a negro a citizen under the Constitution of the United States, if they choose. – Abraham Lincoln

Now what is Judge Douglas Popular Sovereignty? It is, as a principle, no other than that, if one man chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that other man nor anybody else has a right to object. – Abraham Lincoln

Now, and ever, I shall do all in my power for peace, consistently with the maintenance of government. – Abraham Lincoln

Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. – Abraham Lincoln

Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are held out the highest privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House, yet there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father’s. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

Oh, that [his Thanksgiving Message] is some of Seward’s nonsense, and it pleases the fools. – Abraham Lincoln

Oh, yes; you Virginians shed barrels of perspiration while standing off at a distance and superintending the work your slaves do for you. It is different with us. Here it is every fellow for himself, or he doesn’t get there. – Abraham Lincoln

On my return from Philadelphia, yesterday, where, in my anxiety I had been led to attend the whig convention, I found your last letter. I was so tired and sleepy, having ridden all night, that I could not answer it till today; and now I have to do so in the H. R. The leading matter in your letter, is your wish to return to the side of the mountains. Will you be a good girl in all things, if I consent? Then come along, and that as soon as possible. Having got the idea in my head, I shall be impatient till I see you. – Abraham Lincoln

On the whole, my impression is that mercy bears richer fruits than any other attribute. – Abraham Lincoln

Once admit the position that a man rightfully holds another man as property on one side of the line, and you must, when it suits his convenience to come to the other side, admit that he has the same right to hold his property there. – Abraham Lincoln

One company can serve some of your needs all of the time, or all of your needs some of the time, but never both. – Abraham Lincoln

One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. – Abraham Lincoln

One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever. – Abraham Lincoln

One is a majority if he is right. – Abraham Lincoln

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. – Abraham Lincoln

One’d’ is enough for God, but the Todds need two. – Abraham Lincoln

One’s only security in life comes from doing something uncommonly well. – Abraham Lincoln

Only events and not a man’s exertions in his own behalf, can make a President – Abraham Lincoln

Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit… – Abraham Lincoln

Others have been made fools of by the girls; but, this can never be with truth said of me. I most emphatically, in this instance, made a fool of myself. – Abraham Lincoln

Our adversaries [ the Confederate States of America ] have adopted some declarations of independence in which, unlike the good old one penned by Jefferson, they omit the words “all men are created equal.” Why? They have adopted a temporary national constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one, signed by Washington, they omit “We, the People,” and substitute “We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States.” Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view, the rights of men, and the authority of the people? – Abraham Lincoln

Our attitude is more honest and more consistent than our words. – Abraham Lincoln

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work who do care for the result. Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even, hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all then to falter now? now when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise councils may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come. – Abraham Lincoln

Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, and boldest action to bring it speedy relief. Once relieved, its form of government is saved to the world; its beloved history, and cherished memories, are vindicated; and its happy future fully assured, and rendered inconceivably grand. – Abraham Lincoln

Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, and boldest action to bring it speedy relief. – Abraham Lincoln

Our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the Negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, sneered at, construed, hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it. – Abraham Lincoln

Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. – Abraham Lincoln

Our eldest boy, Bob, has been away from us nearly a year at school, and will enter Harvard University this month. He promises very well, considering we never controlled him much. – Abraham Lincoln

Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled, the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains, its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. – Abraham Lincoln

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. – Abraham Lincoln

Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. – Abraham Lincoln

Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people. As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may some day challenge the supremacy of the white man. – Abraham Lincoln

Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our fathers made it inviolate. The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. – Abraham Lincoln

Our strife pertains to ourselves-to the passing generations of men-and it can without convulsion be hushed forever with the passing of one generation. – Abraham Lincoln

Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense. – Abraham Lincoln

People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be – Abraham Lincoln

People are just as happy as they choose to be. – Abraham Lincoln

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like. [in review of a book] – Abraham Lincoln

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like. – Abraham Lincoln

Persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should be adopted to influence the conduct of men. The opposite course would be a reversal of human nature, which is God’s decree and can never be reversed. – Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln was once criticized for his attitude toward his enemies. “Why do you try to make friends of them?” asked an associate. “You should try to destroy them.” “Am I not destroying my enemies,” Lincoln gently replied, “when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln

Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes. – Abraham Lincoln

Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

Property is the fruit of labor property is desirable is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprize. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built. – Abraham Lincoln

Property is the fruit of labor; property is desirable; it is a positive good. – Abraham Lincoln

Property is the fruit of labor; property is desirable; it is a positive good in the world. – Abraham Lincoln

Prosperity is the fruit of labor. It begins with saving money. – Abraham Lincoln

Public opinion in this country is everything. – Abraham Lincoln

Public opinion, though often formed upon a wrong basis, yet generally has a strong underlying sense of justice. – Abraham Lincoln

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or decisions possible or impossible to execute. – Abraham Lincoln

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. – Abraham Lincoln

Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper and loss of self control. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones, though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite. – Abraham Lincoln

Ready are we all to cry out and ascribe motives when our toes are pinched. – Abraham Lincoln

Received as I am by the members of a legislature the majority of whom do not agree with me in political sentiments, I trust that I may have their assistance in piloting the ship of state through this voyage, surrounded by perils as it is; for if it should suffer wreck now, there will be no pilot ever needed for another voyage. – Abraham Lincoln

Reduce the supply of black labor by colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much you increase the demand for and wages of white labor. – Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln

Remembering that Peter denied his Lord with an oath, after most solemnly protesting that he never would, I will not swear I will make no committals; but I do think I will not. – Abraham Lincoln

Repeal the Missouri Compromise – repeal all compromises – repeal the Declaration of Independence – repeal all past history, you still cannot repeal human nature. It will be the abundance of man’s heart that slavery extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will continue to speak. – Abraham Lincoln

Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar. – Abraham Lincoln

Reputation is like fine china: Once broken it’s very hard to repair. – Abraham Lincoln

Resolve to be honest at all events: and if in your judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation. – Abraham Lincoln

Rules of living Don’t worry, eat three square meals a day, say your prayers, be courteous to your creditors, keep your digestion good, steer clear of biliousness, exercise, go slow and go easy. May be there are other things that your special case requires to make you happy, but my friend, these, i reckon, will give you a good life. – Abraham Lincoln

Senator [Stephen] Douglas is of world-wide renown. All the anxious politicians of his party, or who have been of his party for years past, have been looking upon him as certainly, at no distant day, to be the President of the United States. They have seen in his round, jolly, fruitful face, post offices, land offices, marshalships, and cabinet appointments, chargeships and foreign missions, bursting and sprouting out in wonderful exuberance ready to be laid hold of by their greedy hands. – Abraham Lincoln

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser today than he was yesterday – that he may rightfully change when he finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change, of which he, himself, has given no intimation? – Abraham Lincoln

Sending armies to McClellan is like shoveling fleas across a barnyard, not half of them get there. – Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln

Seriously, I do not think I am fit for the presidency. – Abraham Lincoln

Seriously, I do not think I fit for the presidency. – Abraham Lincoln

Should my administration prove to be a very wicked one…or a very foolish one, if you, the people, are true to yourselves and the Constitution, there is little harm I can do, thank God. – Abraham Lincoln

Singular indeed the people should be writhing under oppression and injury, and yet not one among them to be found, to raise the voice of complaint. – Abraham Lincoln

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. – Abraham Lincoln

Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature — opposition to it, in his love of justice. – Abraham Lincoln

So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this Great War! – Abraham Lincoln

Some day I shall be President. – Abraham Lincoln

Some single mind must be master, else there will be no agreement in anything. – Abraham Lincoln

Sorrow comes to all…Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better and yet you are sure to be happy again. – Abraham Lincoln

Stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

Standing as I do, with my hand upon this staff, and under the folds of the American flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it. – Abraham Lincoln

Study the Constitution. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislatures, and enforced in courts of justice. – Abraham Lincoln

Submitted to the Sec. of War. On principle I dislike an oath which requires a man to swear he has not done wrong. It rejects the Christian principle of forgiveness on terms of repentance. I think it is enough if the man does no wrong hereafter. – Abraham Lincoln

Such a man the times have demanded, and such, in the providence of God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that, in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security. – Abraham Lincoln

Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality. – Abraham Lincoln

Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay. – Abraham Lincoln

Suspicions which may be unjust need not be stated. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

The ballot is stronger than the bullet. – Abraham Lincoln

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Take these two things and consider them together, present the question of planting a State with the institution of slavery by the side of a question of who shall be governor of Kansas for a year or two, and is there a man here–is there a man on earth–who would not say the governor question is the little one, and the slavery question is the great one? I ask any honest Democrat if the small, the local, and the trivial and temporary question is not, Who shall be governor?–while the durable, the important and the mischievous one is, Shall this soil be planted with slavery? – Abraham Lincoln

Talk to the jury as though your client’s fate depends on every word you utter. – Abraham Lincoln

Teach hope to all, despair to none. – Abraham Lincoln

Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults. – Abraham Lincoln

Tell me what brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals. – Abraham Lincoln

Tell us any lie you want to, In any kind of mixture, But we pray you, God we pray you, Don’t show us his picture. – Abraham Lincoln

That everyone may receive at least a moderate education appears to be an objective of vital importance. – Abraham Lincoln

That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles–right and wrong–throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the “divine right of kings.” It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king, who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle…. Whenever the issue can be distinctly made, and all extraneous matter thrown out, so that men can fairly see the real difference between the parties, this controversy will soon be settled. – Abraham Lincoln

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thence forward, and forever free. – Abraham Lincoln

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well. – Abraham Lincoln

That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and, hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. – Abraham Lincoln

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. – Abraham Lincoln

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln

That we we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln

The Almighty has His own purposes. – Abraham Lincoln

The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor, against whatever robber assails him. So plain, that the most dumb and stupid slave that ever toiled for a master, does constantly know that he is wronged. – Abraham Lincoln

The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use. – Abraham Lincoln

The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown, and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves. – Abraham Lincoln

The available supply of gold and silver being wholly inadequate to permit the issuance of coins of intrinsic value or paper currency convertible into coin of intrinsic value or paper currency convertible into coin in the volume required to serve the needs of the People, some other basis for the issue of currency must be developed, and some means other than that of convertibility into coin must be developed to prevent undue fluctuation in the value of paper currency or any other substitute for money intrinsic value that may come into use. – Abraham Lincoln

The ballot is stronger than the bullet. – Abraham Lincoln

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. – Abraham Lincoln

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time. – Abraham Lincoln

The best time to stop a fight is before it starts. The best vitamin for developing friends is B1. The best way to destroy an enemy in to make him a friend. – Abraham Lincoln

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend. – Abraham Lincoln

The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend. – Abraham Lincoln

The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. -Abraham Lincoln

The best way to get rid of your enemies is to make them your friends. – Abraham Lincoln

The best way to predict your future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln

…. the better angels of our nature – Abraham Lincoln

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships. – Abraham Lincoln

The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. – Abraham Lincoln

The blessing always comes back to the door of the author. – Abraham Lincoln

The case of Andrews is really a very bad one, as appears by the record already before me. Yet before receiving this I had ordered his punishment commuted to imprisonment and had so telegraphed. I did this, not on any merit in the case, but because I am trying to evade the butchering business lately. – Abraham Lincoln

The Cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one, or even one hundred defeats. – Abraham Lincoln

the chief material enabling us to correctly judge whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is right or wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

The Constitution is not a suicide pact. – Abraham Lincoln

The damnest scoundrel that ever lived, but in the infinite mercy of Providence… also the damnest fool. – Abraham Lincoln

The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and of generosity. – Abraham Lincoln

The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and of generosity. What one of us but can call to mind some relative more promising in youth than all his fellows, who has fallen a sacrifice to his rapacity?- Abraham Lincoln

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honour or dishonour, to the last generation. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, our last best hope of Earth. – Abraham Lincoln

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. – Abraham Lincoln

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. – Abraham Lincoln

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. – Abraham Lincoln

The enthusiastic uprising of the people in our cause, is our great reliance; and we can not safely give it any check, even though it overflows, and runs in channels not laid down in any chart. – Abraham Lincoln

The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. – Abraham Lincoln

The eyes of that species of extinct giant, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara as our eyes do now. – Abraham Lincoln

The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea. – Abraham Lincoln

The fathers of the government expected and intended the institution of slavery to come to an end. They expected and intended that it should be in the course of ultimate extinction. And when I say that I desire to see the further spread of it arrested, I only say I desire to see that done which the fathers have first done. – Abraham Lincoln

The fiery trials through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation. – Abraham Lincoln

The foregoing history may not be precisely accurate in every particular; but I am sure it is sufficiently so, for all the uses I shall attempt to make of it, and in it, we have before us, the chief material enabling us to correctly judge whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is right or wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

The good old maxims of the Bible are applicable, and truly applicable to human affairs, and in this as in other things, we may say here that he who is not for us is against us; he would gathereth not with us scattereth. – Abraham Lincoln

 

The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. – Abraham Lincoln

The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land. – Abraham Lincoln

The greatest lessons I have every learned were at my mother’s knees… All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. – Abraham Lincoln

The health you enjoy is largely your choice- Abraham Lincoln

The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person. – Abraham Lincoln

The human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, over which the mind itself has no control. – Abraham Lincoln

The judge has alluded to the Declaration of Independence, and insisted that negroes are not included in that Declaration; and that it is a slander upon the framers of that instrument to suppose that negroes were meant therein; and he asks you: Is it possible to believe that Mr. Jefferson, who penned the immortal paper, could have supposed himself applying the language of that instrument to the negro race, and yet held a portion of that race in slavery? Would he not at once have freed them? I only have to remark upon this part of the judge’s speech (and that, too, very briefly, for I shall not detain myself, or you, upon that point for any great length of time), that I believe the entire records of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence up to within three years ago, may be searched in vain for one single affirmation, from one single man, that the negro was not included in the Declaration of Independence; I think I may defy Judge Douglas to show that he ever said so, that Washington ever said so, that any President ever said so, that any member of Congress ever said so, or that any living man upon the whole earth ever said so, until the necessities of the present policy of the Democratic party in regard to slavery had to invent that affirmation. And I will remind Judge Douglas and this audience that while Mr. Jefferson was the owner of slaves, as undoubtedly he was, in speaking upon this very subject, he used the strong language that “he trembled for his country when he remembered that God was just.”- Abraham Lincoln

The judge tells us in proceeding, that he is opposed to making any odious distinctions between free and slave States. I am altogether unaware that the Republicans are in favor of making any odious distinctions between the free and slave States. But there still is a difference, I think, between Judge Douglas and the Republicans in this. I suppose the real difference between Judge Douglas and his friends and the Republicans, on the contrary, is that the judge is not in favor of making any difference between slavery and liberty. – Abraham Lincoln

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. – Abraham Lincoln

The land, the earth God gave to man for his home … should never be the possession of any man, corporation, (or) society … any more than the air or water. – Abraham Lincoln

The land-grant university system is being built on behalf of the people, who have invested in these public universities their hopes, their support, and their confidence. – Abraham Lincoln

The leading rule for a man of every calling is diligence; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. – Abraham Lincoln

The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every calling, is diligence. – Abraham Lincoln

The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all the labor pertaining to it which can then be done. – Abraham Lincoln

The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. – Abraham Lincoln

The legal right of the Southern people to reclaim their fugitives I have constantly admitted. The legal right of Congress to interfere with their institution in the states, I have constantly denied. – Abraham Lincoln

The legalized liquor business is the tragedy of our civilization. Alcohol is the greatest and most blighting curse of our modern civilization. The liquor seller is simply and only a privileged malefactor – a criminal. – Abraham Lincoln

The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities. – Abraham Lincoln

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. – Abraham Lincoln

The Lord prefers common looking people. That is why he made so many of them. – Abraham Lincoln

The Lord spared the fitten and the rest he seen fitten to die. – Abraham Lincoln

The loss of enemies does not compensate for the loss of friends. – Abraham Lincoln

The love of property and consciousness of right and wrong have conflicting places in our organization, which often makes a man’s course seem crooked, his conduct a riddle. – Abraham Lincoln

The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it. – Abraham Lincoln

The man who could go to Africa and rob her of her children, and then sell them into interminable bondage, with no other motive than that which is furnished by dollars and cents, is so much worse than the most depraved murderer that he can never receive pardon at my hand. – Abraham Lincoln

The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed, can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy. – Abraham Lincoln

The man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression. – Abraham Lincoln

The master not only governs the slave without his consent, but he governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow ALL the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-government. – Abraham Lincoln

The money power preys on the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. – Abraham Lincoln

The most notable feature of a disturbance in your city last summer, was the hanging of some working people by other working people. It should never be so. The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. – Abraham Lincoln

The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. – Abraham Lincoln –as quoted in THE RIVER OF WINGED DREAMS

The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the angels of our nature. – Abraham Lincoln

The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise high with the occasion – Abraham Lincoln

The occasion is piled high with difficulty. We must rise to the occasion. – Abraham Lincoln

The old general rule was that educated people did not perform manual labor. They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. But now, especially in these free States, nearly all are educated–quite too nearly all, to leave the labor of the uneducated, in any wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from this that henceforth educated people must labor. Otherwise, education itself would become a positive and intolerable evil. No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive. – Abraham Lincoln

The one victory we can ever call complete will be that one which proclaims that there is not one slave or one drunkard on the face of God’s green earth. – Abraham Lincoln

The only assurance of our nation’s safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion. – Abraham Lincoln

The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient. – Abraham Lincoln

The only security a man can ever have is the ability to do a job uncommonly well. – Abraham Lincoln

The people know their rights, and they are never slow to assert and maintain them, when they are invaded. – Abraham Lincoln

The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions. – Abraham Lincoln

The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust. – Abraham Lincoln

The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them. – Abraham Lincoln

The person who is incapable of making a mistake, is incapable of anything. – Abraham Lincoln

The petition of persons under eighteen, praying that I would free all slave children, and the heading of which petition it appears you wrote, was handed me a few days since by Senator Sumner. Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, He wills to do it. – Abraham Lincoln

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. – Abraham Lincoln

The plainest print cannot be read through a gold eagle. – Abraham Lincoln

The point – the power to hurt – of all figures lies in the truthfulness of their application. – Abraham Lincoln

The political horizon looks dark and lowering; but the people, under Providence, will set all right. – Abraham Lincoln

The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts. – Abraham Lincoln

The power of hope upon human exertion, and happiness, is wonderful. – Abraham Lincoln

The Presidency, even to the most experienced politicians, is no bed of roses; and [Zachary] Taylor like others, found thorns within it. No human being can fill that station and escape censure. – Abraham Lincoln

The president is the cube of ice one places in the pot of a houseplant, providing a steady amount of nourishment over the course of a hot day. A good description of the job and also a fantastic bit of practical household advice. – Abraham Lincoln

The President responded very impressively, saying that he was deeply sensible of his need of Divine assistance. He had sometime thought that perhaps he might be an instrument in God’s hands of accomplishing a great work and he certainly was not unwilling to be. Perhaps, however, God’s way of accomplishing the end which the memorialists have in view may be different from theirs. – Abraham Lincoln

The President to-night has a dream: – He was in a party of plain people, and, as it became known who he was, they began to comment on his appearance. One of them said: – “He is a very common-looking man”. The President replied: – “The Lord prefers common-looking people. That is the reason he makes so many of them”. – Abraham Lincoln

The press has no better friend than I am, no one who is more ready to acknowledge . . . its tremendous power for both good and evil. – Abraham Lincoln

The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society. – Abraham Lincoln

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. – Abraham Lincoln

The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. – Abraham Lincoln

The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land, for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This, say its advocates, is free labor-the just and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all-gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. – Abraham Lincoln

The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. – Abraham Lincoln

The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom, and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best lights He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay. – Abraham Lincoln

The sense of obligation to continue is present in all of us. A duty to strive is the duty of us all. I felt a call to that duty. – Abraham Lincoln

The sentiment that contemplates the institution of slavery in this country as a wrong is the sentiment of the Republican party. It is the sentiment around which all their actions, all their arguments, circle; from which all their propositions radiate. They look upon it as being a moral, social, and political wrong; and while they contemplate it as such, they nevertheless have due regard for its actual existence among us, and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, and to all the constitutional obligations thrown about it. Yet having a due regard for these, they desire a policy in regard to it that looks to its not creating any more danger. They insist that it, as far as may be, be treated as a wrong, and one of the methods of treating it as a wrong is to make provision that it shall grow no larger. – Abraham Lincoln

The severest justice may not always be the best policy – Abraham Lincoln

The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. – Abraham Lincoln

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty. – Abraham Lincoln

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. – Abraham Lincoln

The slave-breeders and slave-traders, are a small, odious and detested class, among you; and yet in politics, they dictate the course of all of you, and are as completely your masters, as you are the master of your own negroes. – Abraham Lincoln

The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. – Abraham Lincoln

The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people. – Abraham Lincoln

The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds. – Abraham Lincoln

The struggle of today is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also. – Abraham Lincoln

The struggle of today, is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us. – Abraham Lincoln

The surest way to reveal one’s character is not through adversity but by giving them power. – Abraham Lincoln

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read. – Abraham Lincoln

The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed. – Abraham Lincoln

The time has come when I am for everybody fighting the rebels. Let Indians fight them; let the Negroes fight them; and if you have got any strong-legged jackasses in Iowa that can kick rebels to death, they have my hearty consent. – Abraham Lincoln

The trouble with Hooker is that he’s got his headquarters where his hindquarters aught to be. – Abraham Lincoln

The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. – Abraham Lincoln

The truth about the matter is this: Judge Douglas has sung paeans to his “popular sovereignty” doctrine until his Supreme Court, cooperating with him, has squatted his squatter sovereignty out. But he will keep up this species of humbuggery about squatter sovereignty. He has at last invented this sort of do-nothing sovereignty–that the people may exclude slavery by a sort of “sovereignty” that is exercised by doing nothing at all. Is not that running his popular sovereignty down awfully? Has it not got down as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death? – Abraham Lincoln

The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. – Abraham Lincoln

The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was not made to conceal or destroy the apple, but to adorn and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple-not the apple for the picture. – Abraham Lincoln

The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked. – Abraham Lincoln

The unpleasant events you are passing from will not have been profitless to you. – Abraham Lincoln

The US patent system adds the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things – Abraham Lincoln

The very spot where grew the bread that formed my bones, I see. How strange, old field, on thee to tread, and feel I’m part of thee. – Abraham Lincoln

The victor shall soon be the vanquished, if he relax his exertion; and … the vanquished this year, may be the victor in the next, in spite of all competition. – Abraham Lincoln

The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him. – Abraham Lincoln

The will of God prevails. – Abraham Lincoln

The working men are the basis of all governments, for the plain reason that they are the most numerous. – Abraham Lincoln

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty – Abraham Lincoln

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing…. – Abraham Lincoln

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other mens labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names liberty and tyranny. – Abraham Lincoln

The world is agreed that labor is the source from which human wants are mainly supplied. There is no dispute upon this point. – Abraham Lincoln

The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will. – Abraham Lincoln

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. – Abraham Lincoln

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here so nobly advanced. – Abraham Lincoln

The worst thing you can do for anyone you care about is anything that they can do on their own. – Abraham Lincoln

The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

The written word may be man’s greatest invention. It allows us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn. – Abraham Lincoln

There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two, so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. – Abraham Lincoln

There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite. – Abraham Lincoln

There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes. – Abraham Lincoln

There has never been but one question in all civilization-how to keep a few men from saying to many men: You work and earn bread and we will eat it. – Abraham Lincoln

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people to the idea of indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races … A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as an immediate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas … – Abraham Lincoln

There is an important sense in which government is distinctive from administration. One is perpetual, the other is temporary and changeable. A man may be loyal to his government and yet oppose the particular principles and methods of administration. – Abraham Lincoln

There is another old poet whose name I do not now remember who said, “Truth is the daughter of Time.” – Abraham Lincoln

There is more involved in this contest than is realized by every one. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed. – Abraham Lincoln

There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other. – Abraham Lincoln

There is no greater injustice than to wring your profits from the sweat of another man’s brow. – Abraham Lincoln

There is nothing I can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort. – Abraham Lincoln

There is nothing true anywhere, The true is nowhere to be seen; If you say you see the true, This seeing is not the true one. – Abraham Lincoln

There is really no crisis except an artificial one…If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the trouble will come to an end. – Abraham Lincoln

There is something so ludicrous in promises of good or threats of evil a great way off as to render the whole subject with which they are connected easily turned into ridicule. – Abraham Lincoln

There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling has not injured every person you have ever known to fall into it. – Abraham Lincoln

There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury. – Abraham Lincoln

There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, and was suspected of being a Deist and had talked of fighting a duel. – Abraham Lincoln

There’s nothing good in war. Except its ending. – Abraham Lincoln

These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people’s money to settle the quarrel. – Abraham Lincoln

These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people. – Abraham Lincoln

These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have. – Abraham Lincoln

These office-seekers are a curse to the country; no sooner was my election certain, than I became the prey of hundreds of hungry persistent applicants for office, whose highest ambition is to feed at the Government’s crib – Abraham Lincoln

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. – Abraham Lincoln

Think of strangers as friends you not met yet. – Abraham Lincoln

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. – Abraham Lincoln

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it. – Abraham Lincoln

This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, all that a man hath will he give for his life; and while all contribute of their substance the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. The highest merit, then, is due to the soldier. – Abraham Lincoln

This human struggle and scramble for office, for a way to live without work, will finally test the strength of our institutions. – Abraham Lincoln

This is a world of compensation; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. – Abraham Lincoln

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. – Abraham Lincoln

This is essentially a people’s contest… whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men – to lift artificial weights from all shoulders – to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all – to afford all, an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life.

This leads to the further reflection, that no other human occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought, as agriculture. I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind, as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable — nothing which so lightens and sweetens toil, as the hopeful pursuit of such discovery. And how vast, and how varied a field is agriculture, for such discovery. The mind, already trained to thought, in the country school, or higher school, cannot fail to find there an exhaustless source of profitable enjoyment. – Abraham Lincoln

This nation under God – Abraham Lincoln

This slavery element is a durable element of discord among us, and … we shall probably not have perfect peace in this country with it until it either masters the free principle in our government, or is so far mastered by the free principle as for the public mind to rest in the belief that it is going to end. – Abraham Lincoln

This struggle and scramble for office, for a way to live without work, will finally test the strength of our institutions. – Abraham Lincoln

Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will whether it comes from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. – Abraham Lincoln

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it. – Abraham Lincoln

Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it. – Abraham Lincoln

Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators. – Abraham Lincoln

Thoughtful men must feel that the fate of civilization upon this continent is involved in the issue of our contest. Among the most satisfying proofs of this conviction is the hearty devotion everywhere exhibited by our schools and colleges to the national cause. – Abraham Lincoln

Through their deeds, the dead of battle have spoken more eloquently for themselves than any of the living ever could. But we can only honor them by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they gave a last full measure of devotion. – Abraham Lincoln

Thus let bygones be bygones. Let past differences, as nothing be. – Abraham Lincoln

Tis better people think you a fool, then open your mouth and erase all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

To correct the evils, great and small, which spring from want of sympathy and from positive enmity among strangers, as nations or as individuals, is one of the highest functions of civilization. – Abraham Lincoln

To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own. – Abraham Lincoln

To give the victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary. – Abraham Lincoln

To lead, you must touch men’s hearts. – Abraham Lincoln

To say a sheep has 5 legs doesn’t make it so. – Abraham Lincoln

To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labor, or as nearly as possible, is a worthy object of any good government. – Abraham Lincoln

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men. – Abraham Lincoln

To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards of men. – Abraham Lincoln

To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. – Abraham Lincoln

To the best of my judgment, I have labored for, and not against, the Union. As I have not felt, so I have not expressed any harsh sentiment towards our Southern brethren. I have constantly declared, as I really believed, the only difference between them and us is the difference of circumstances. – Abraham Lincoln

Towering genius disdains a beaten path … It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts for distinction. – Abraham Lincoln

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. – Abraham Lincoln

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. – Abraham Lincoln

Towering genius…thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freeman. – Abraham Lincoln

True patriotism is better than the wrong kind of piety. – Abraham Lincoln

Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. – Abraham Lincoln

Twenty-two years ago Judge [then-Senator Stephen] Douglas and I first became acquainted. We were both young then; he a trifle younger than I. Even then, we were both ambitious; I, perhaps, quite as much so as he. With me, the race of ambition has been a failure–a flat failure; with him it has been one of splendid success. – Abraham Lincoln

Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica. – Abraham Lincoln

Upon the subject of education … I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in. – Abraham Lincoln

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in. That everyone may receive at least a moderate education appears to be an objective of vital importance. – Abraham Lincoln

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we, as a people, can be engaged in. – Abraham Lincoln

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the Scriptures, and other works both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Upon the subjects of which I have treated, I have spoken as I have thought. I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them; but, holding it a sound maxim that it is better only sometimes to be right than at all times to be wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them. – Abraham Lincoln

Upon this subject, the habits of our whole species fall into three great classes–useful labour, useless labour and idleness. Of these the first only is meritorious; and to it all the products of labour rightfully belong; but the two latter, while they exist, are heavy pensioners upon the first, robbing it of a large portion of it’s just rights. The only remedy for this is to, as far as possible, drive useless labour and idleness out of existence. – Abraham Lincoln

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. – Abraham Lincoln

Violence begins where knowledge ends. – Abraham Lincoln

Wanting to work is so rare a merit that it should be encouraged. – Abraham Lincoln

Washington’s is the mightiest name of earth – long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name no eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor leave it shining on. – Abraham Lincoln

We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. – Abraham Lincoln

We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny. – Abraham Lincoln

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. – Abraham Lincoln

We believe that the spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs the general welfare. We believe – nay, we know, that that is the only thing that has ever threatened the perpetuity of the Union itself. – Abraham Lincoln

We better know there is a fire whence we see much smoke rising than we could know it by one or two witnesses swearing to it. The witnesses may commit perjury, but the smoke cannot. – Abraham Lincoln

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. – Abraham Lincoln

We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. – Abraham Lincoln

We can succeed only by concert. It is not, ‘Can any of us imagine better,’ but, ‘Can we all do better?’ – Abraham Lincoln

We cannot ask a man what he will do, and if we should, and he should answer us, we should despise him for it. Therefore we must take a man whose opinions are known. – Abraham Lincoln

We cannot but believe that He who made the world still governs it. – Abraham Lincoln

We cannot escape history. – Abraham Lincoln

We expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read. – Abraham Lincoln

We have all heard of the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay and starving to death, the like of which would never happen to Gen. Cass. Place stacks a thousand miles apart: he would stand stock still, midway between them, and eat them both at once; and the green grass along the line would be apt to suffer some, too, at the same time. – Abraham Lincoln

We have all heard of Young America. He is the most current youth of the age. Some think him conceited, and arrogant; but has he not reason to entertain a rather extensive opinion of himself? Is he not the inventor and owner of the present, and sole hope of the future? – Abraham Lincoln

We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving Grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! – Abraham Lincoln

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. – Abraham Lincoln

We have in this nation the element of domestic slavery. It is a matter of absolute certainty that it is a disturbing element. It is the opinion of all the great men who have expressed an opinion upon it, that it is a dangerous element. We keep up a controversy in regard to it. That controversy necessarily springs from difference of opinion, and if we can learn exactly–can reduce to the lowest elements–what that difference of opinion is, we perhaps shall be better prepared for discussing the different systems of policy that we would propose in regard to that disturbing element. – Abraham Lincoln

We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. – Abraham Lincoln

We hope all danger may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise would itself be extremely dangerous. – Abraham Lincoln

We know nothing of what will happen in future, but by the analogy of experience. – Abraham Lincoln

We know, Southern men declare that their slaves are better off than hired laborers amongst us. How little they know, whereof they speak! There is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us. Twenty-five years ago, I was a hired laborer. The hired laborer of yesterday, labors on his own account today; and will hire others to labor for him tomorrow. – Abraham Lincoln

We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read. – Abraham Lincoln

We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. – Abraham Lincoln

We must ask where we are and whither we are tending. – Abraham Lincoln

We must believe that He permits it [this war] for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it. – Abraham Lincoln

We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued. – Abraham Lincoln

We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued. The slaves were undeniably a element of strength to those who had their service, and we must decide whether that element should be with us or “against us”. Emancipation, will strike at the heart of the rebellion.” Said to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. – Abraham Lincoln

We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. – Abraham Lincoln

We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot. – Abraham Lincoln

We must remember that the people of all the States are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizen of the several States. We should bear this in mind, and act in such a way as to say nothing insulting or irritating. I would inculcate this idea, so that we may not, like Pharisees, set ourselves up to be better than other people. – Abraham Lincoln

We must work earnestly in the best light He gives us. – Abraham Lincoln

We seek not to overthrow the constitution, but to overthrow those who would prevert it. – Abraham Lincoln

We shall meanly lose or nobly save the last hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln

We shall nobody save or meanly lose the last best hope – Abraham Lincoln

We shall not fail – if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come. – Abraham Lincoln

We shall sooner have the bird by hatching the egg than by smashing it. – Abraham Lincoln

We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. – Abraham Lincoln

We should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society. – Abraham Lincoln

We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it. – Abraham Lincoln

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. – Abraham Lincoln

We think slavery a great moral wrong, and while we do not claim the right to touch it where it exists, we wish to treat it as a wrong in the territories, where our votes will reach it. – Abraham Lincoln

We think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it has often overruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it overrule this. – Abraham Lincoln

We want, and must have, a national policy, as to slavery, which deals with it as being wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

We, on our side, are praying to Him to give us victory, because we believe we are right; but those on the other side pray to Him, look for victory, believing they are right. What must He think of us? – Abraham Lincoln

Weakness is what keeps driving us to God, by the overwhelming conviction that there just isn’t anywhere else to go. – Abraham Lincoln

Well, I suppose you know that men will stand a good deal when they are flattered. – Abraham Lincoln

Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals. – Abraham Lincoln

Were it not for my little jokes, I could not bear the burdens of this office. – Abraham Lincoln

What are you gonna do for a face when the baboon wants his ass back? – Abraham Lincoln

What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea-coasts, our army and our navy. … Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. … you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you. – Abraham Lincoln

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not…the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army…our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms… – Abraham Lincoln

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? – Abraham Lincoln

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, every where. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. – Abraham Lincoln

What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of Slavery? – Abraham Lincoln

What has jarred and shaken the great American Tract Society recently–not yet splitting it, but sure to divide it in the end? Is it not this same mighty, deep-seated power that somehow operates on the minds of men, exciting and stirring them up in every avenue of society–in politics, in religion, in literature, in morals, in all the manifold relations of life? Is this the work of politicians? Is that irresistible power, which for fifty years has shaken the government and agitated the people, to be stilled and subdued by pretending that it is an exceedingly simple thing, and we ought not to talk about it? If you will get everybody else to stop talking about it, I assure you I will quit before they have half done so. – Abraham Lincoln

What has once happened, will invariably happen again, when the same circumstances which combined to produce it, shall again combine in the same way. – Abraham Lincoln

What I claim as my invention, and desire to secure by letters patent, is the combination of expansible buoyant chambers placed at the sides of a vessel with the main shaft or shafts by means of the sliding spars, which pass down through the buoyant chambers and are made fast to their bottoms and the series of ropes and pulleys or their equivalents in such a manner that by turning the main shaft or shafts in one direction the buoyant chambers will be forced downward into the water, and at the same time expanded and filled with air for buoying up the vessel by the displacement of water, and by turning the shafts in an opposite direction the buoyant chambers will be contracted into a small space and secured against injury. – Abraham Lincoln

What I do say is that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. – Abraham Lincoln

What I do say is, that no man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent. I say this is the leading principle – the sheet anchor of American republicanism. – Abraham Lincoln

What I want is to get done what the people desire to have done, and the question for me is how to find that out exactly. – Abraham Lincoln

What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? – Abraham Lincoln

What is conservatism? Is it not the adherence to the old and tried against the new and untried? – Abraham Lincoln

What is it that we hold most dear amongst us? Our own liberty and prosperity. What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of slavery? If this is true, how do you propose to improve the condition of things by enlarging slavery–by spreading it out and making it bigger? You may have a wen or cancer upon your person, and not be able to cut it out lest you bleed to death; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and spread it all over your whole body. – Abraham Lincoln

What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree. – Abraham Lincoln

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself. – Abraham Lincoln

What kills the skunk is the publicity it gives itself. – Abraham Lincoln

Whatever may be the result of this ephemeral contest between Judge Douglas and myself, I see the day rapidly approaching when his pill of sectionalism, which he has been thrusting down the throats of Republicans for years past, will be crowded down his own throat. – Abraham Lincoln

Whatever motive a man or a set of men may have for making annexation of property or territory, it is very easy to assert, but much less easy to disprove, that it is necessary for the wants of the country. – Abraham Lincoln

Whatever spiteful fools may say, Each jealous ranting yelper, No woman ever went astray, Without a man to help her – Abraham Lincoln

Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine, should any ever do so, it is my intention to do all in my power to make her happy and contented; and there is nothing I can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort. – Abraham Lincoln

Whatever you are, be a good one. – Abraham Lincoln

When arguing with a fool, make sure the opponent isn’t doing the exact same thing. – Abraham Lincoln

When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say. – Abraham Lincoln

When I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three…. The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity. – Abraham Lincoln

When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion. – Abraham Lincoln

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion. – Abraham Lincoln

When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say. – Abraham Lincoln

When I go hear a man speak, I like to hear him speak like he’s fighting a swarm of bees. – Abraham Lincoln

When I got him out he was near froze solid and shivering. He was shaking so hard that I wasted half a glass of whiskey trying to aim it for his mouth. Must have got enough of it into him, though, since it did seem to bring him back to life. – Abraham Lincoln

When I have a particular case in hand, I have that motive and feel an interest in the case, feel an interest in ferreting out the questions to the bottom, love to dig up the question by the roots and hold it up and dry it before the fires of the mind. – Abraham Lincoln

When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees. – Abraham Lincoln

When I lay down the reins of this administration, I want to have one friend left. And that friend is myself. – Abraham Lincoln

When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say. – Abraham Lincoln

When Judge Douglas says that whoever, or whatever community, wants slaves, they have a right to have them, he is perfectly logical if there is nothing wrong in the institution; but if you admit that it is wrong, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

When met with a problem I always ask myself what is the right thing to do and then I do it. – Abraham Lincoln

When someone asked Abraham Lincoln, after he was elected president, what he was going to do about his enemies, he replied, “I am going to destroy them. I am going to make them my friends.” – Abraham Lincoln

When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that ‘a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ – Abraham Lincoln

Whenever the issue can be distinctly made, and all extraneous matter thrown out, so that men can fairly see the real difference between the parties, this controversy will soon be settled, and it will be done peaceably too. There will be no war, no violence. – Abraham Lincoln

Whenever the vicious portion of [our] population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing-presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with impunity, depend upon it, this government cannot last. By such things the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it, and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak to make their friendship effectual. – Abraham Lincoln

Whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property rights, human rights must prevail. – Abraham Lincoln

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation. – Abraham Lincoln

Whether or not the world would be vastly benefited by a total banishment from it of all intoxicating drinks seems not now an open question. Three-fourths of mankind confess the affirmative with their tongues, and I believe all the rest acknowledge it in their hearts. – Abraham Lincoln

Whether you look for the good or look for the bad in a person, you’ll find it. – Abraham Lincoln

While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election; and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result. – Abraham Lincoln

While I have often said that all men out to be free, yet I would allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be; and next to them those white persons who argue in favor of making other people slaves. I am in favor of giving an opportunity to such white men to try it on for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

While the people retain their virtue and vigilence, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years. – Abraham Lincoln

While we are grateful to all the brave men and officers for the events of the past few days, we should, above all, be very grateful to Almighty God, who gives us victory. – Abraham Lincoln

Why don’t I drink from a straw? Because straws are for suckers. – Abraham Lincoln

Why don’t you laugh? If I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do. – Abraham Lincoln

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? – Abraham Lincoln

Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. – Abraham Lincoln

With educated people, I suppose, punctuation is a matter of rule; with me it is a matter of feeling. But I must say I have a great respect for the semicolin; it’s a useful little chap

With firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right. – Abraham Lincoln

With high hope for the future, no prediction is ventured. – Abraham Lincoln

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work ;we are in. – Abraham Lincoln

With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds. – Abraham Lincoln

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations. – Abraham Lincoln

With malice towards none; with charity for all. – Abraham Lincoln

With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

With the Catching Ends the Pleasure of the Chase. – Abraham Lincoln

With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die. – Abraham Lincoln

With this honor devolves upon you also a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so under God it will sustain you. – Abraham Lincoln

Without Divine assistance I can not succeed; with it I can not fail. – Abraham Lincoln

Without the assistance of that Divine Being … I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. – Abraham Lincoln

Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these, are not the primary cause of our great prosperity. There is something back of these, entwining itself more closely about the human heart. That something, is the principle of “Liberty to all” the principle that clears the path for all-gives hope to all-and, by consequence, enterprize [sic], and industry to all. – Abraham Lincoln

Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh. – Abraham Lincoln

Women are the only people I am afraid of who I never thought would hurt me – Abraham Lincoln

Writing is the great invention of the world. – Abraham Lincoln

Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world. – Abraham Lincoln

Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world…enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space. – Abraham Lincoln

You already know I desire that neither Father or Mother shall be in want of any comfort either in health or sickness while they live. – Abraham Lincoln

You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. – Abraham Lincoln

You are as happy as you make up your mind to be. – Abraham Lincoln

You are green, it is true; but they are green also. You are all green alike. – Abraham Lincoln

You are young, and I am older; You are hopeful, I am not- Enjoy life, ere it grow colder- Pluck the roses ere they rot. – Abraham Lincoln

You can always lie to others and hide your actions from them… but you can not fool yourself – Abraham Lincoln

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You can have anything you want – if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose. – Abraham Lincoln

You can have anything you want, if you want it badly enough. – Abraham Lincoln

You can not fail in any laudable object, unless you allow your mind to be improperly directed. – Abraham Lincoln

You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot fail unless you quit. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot have the right to do what is wrong! – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could do for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. – Abraham Lincoln

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

you can’t escape tomorrow’s responsibilities by evading it today – Abraham Lincoln

You can’t help the poor by being one of them. – Abraham Lincoln

You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps, would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional – I think differently. – Abraham Lincoln

You have confidence in yourself, which is valuable, if not an indispensable quality. – Abraham Lincoln

You have heard the story, haven’t you, about the man who was tarred and feathered and carried out of town on a rail? A man in the crowd asked him how he liked it. His reply was that if it was not for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk. – Abraham Lincoln

You have more of a feeling of personal resentment than I have. Perhaps, I have too little of it, but I never thought it paid. – Abraham Lincoln

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was. – Abraham Lincoln

You know I dislike slavery; and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it. – Abraham Lincoln

You know you’ve reached middle age when all you exercise is caution – Abraham Lincoln

You know, I think I could eat that grain as fast as you are grinding it. – Abraham Lincoln

You may burn my body to ashes, and scatter them to the winds of heaven; you may drag my soul down to the regions of darkness and despair to be tormented forever; but you will never get me to support a measure which I believe to be wrong, although by doing so I may accomplish that which I believe to be right. – Abraham Lincoln

You may deceive all the people part of the time, and part of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time. – Abraham Lincoln

You may have a wen or a cancer upon your person and not be able to cut it out lest you bleed to death; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and spread it over your whole body. – Abraham Lincoln

You may think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me like a trifle, but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, the poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day; that by honest work, I had earned a dollar. I was a more hopeful and thoughtful boy from that time.

You must remember that some things legally right are not morally right. – Abraham Lincoln

You must think I am a high-priced man…. Fifteen dollars is enough for the job. I send you a receipt for fifteen dollars, and return to you a ten-dollar bill. – Abraham Lincoln

You say men ought to be hung for the way they are executing the law; I say the way it is being executed is quite as good as any of its antecedents. It is being executed in the precise way which was intended from the first, else why does no Nebraska man express astonishment or condemnation? Poor Reeder is the only public man who has been silly enough to believe that anything like fairness was ever intended, and he has been bravely undeceived. – Abraham Lincoln

You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free State, as a Christian you will rejoice at it. All decent slaveholders talk that way, and I do not doubt their candor. But they never vote that way. Although in a private letter or conversation you will express your preference that Kansas shall be free, you would vote for no man for Congress who would say the same thing publicly. No such man could be elected from any district in a slave State. – Abraham Lincoln

You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but, no matter. Fight you, then exclusively to save the Union. – Abraham Lincoln

Young man, if God gives me four years more to rule this country, I believe it will become what it ought to be-what its Divine Author intended it to be-no longer one vast plantation for breeding human beings for the purpose of lust and bondage. But it will become a new Valley of Jehoshaphat, where all the nations of the earth will assemble together under one flag, worshipping a common God, and they will celebrate the resurrection of human freedom. – Abraham Lincoln

Your good mother tells me you are feeling very badly in your new situation. Allow me to assure you it is a perfect certainty that you will, very soon, feel better – quite happy – if you only stick to the resolution you have taken to procure a military education…. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life. – Abraham Lincoln

Your organization will take on the personality of its top leaders – Abraham Lincoln

Your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing. – Abraham Lincoln

Your rights end where my nose begins. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

On Life

You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not-
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder-
Pluck the roses ere they rot. – Abraham Lincoln

Life is hard but so very beautiful. – Abraham Lincoln

Always remember: Life is for enjoying. – Abraham Lincoln

Life may not always be a bed of roses. All of us are aware of this fact. There are numerous times in life when we have to face disappointments. These quotes and sayings surely do inspire and help us to look forward and enjoy the new pathways coming our way. These quotes also lend a different perspective to life, which makes moving forward not a very difficult task.I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country’s cause. – Abraham Lincoln

And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln

Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life. – Abraham Lincoln

Do not worry; eat three square meals a day; say your prayers; be courteous to your creditors; keep your digestion good; exercise; go slow and easy. Maybe there are other things your special case requires to make you happy, but my friend, these I reckon will give you a good life. – Abraham Lincoln

On Law

Laws change; people die; the land remains. – Abraham Lincoln

Law is nothing else but the best reason of wise men applied for ages to the transactions and business of mankind. – Abraham Lincoln

A lawyer’s time and advice are his(her) stock in trade. – Abraham Lincoln

Again, a law may be both constitutional and expedient, and yet may be administered in an unjust and unfair way. – Abraham Lincoln

As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. – Abraham Lincoln

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;-let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. – Abraham Lincoln

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid, or is not valid. If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it can not be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. – Abraham Lincoln

Extemporaneous speaking should be practised [sic] and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying too much on speech-making. If any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in advance. – Abraham Lincoln

In law it is a good policy never to plead what you need not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what you cannot. – Abraham Lincoln

It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws, but to break up both and make new ones. – Abraham Lincoln

Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. – Abraham Lincoln

Let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty.

Let me not be understood as saying that there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed. – Abraham Lincoln

Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. – Abraham Lincoln

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice is done to both lawyer and client. – Abraham Lincoln

The negative principle that no law is free law, is not much known except among lawyers. – Abraham Lincoln

There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. – Abraham Lincoln

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. – Abraham Lincoln

There is not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying too much on speech making. If any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in advance. – Abraham Lincoln

When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, or that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed. – Abraham Lincoln

When men take it in their heads to-day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. – Abraham Lincoln

We will make converts day by day; we will grow strong by the violence and injustice of our adversaries. And, unless truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the majority after a while. – Abraham Lincoln

On God and Religion

When I left Springfield [to become President] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.

All things desirable to men are contained in the Bible. – Abraham Lincoln

God bless the Methodist Church – bless all the churches – and blessed be God, Who, in this our great trial, giveth us the churches. – Abraham Lincoln

God bless the soldiers and seamen, with all their brave commanders. – Abraham Lincoln

God can not be for, and against the same thing at the same time. – Abraham Lincoln

God is the silent partner in ALL great enterprises. – Abraham Lincoln

God must have loved the plain people: He made so many of them. – Abraham Lincoln

God must love the common man, he made so many of them. – Abraham Lincoln

I am busily engaged in the study of the Bible. I believe it is God’s word because it finds me where I am. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe the Bible is the best gift God ever gave to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through that book.” On a personal spiritual note, Lincoln confessed, “I have been driven many times to my knees with the overwhelming conviction, that I had nowhere else to go. – Abraham Lincoln

I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it. -Abraham Lincoln

I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion. Leaving the higher matter of eternal consequences, between him and his Maker, I still do not think any man has the right thus to insult the feelings, and injure the morals, of the community in which he may live. – Abraham Lincoln

I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion. – Abraham Lincoln

If we believe the Bible, we must accept the fact that, in the old days, God and his angels came to humans in their sleep and made themselves known in dreams. – Abraham Lincoln

In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. – Abraham Lincoln

In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. – Abraham Lincoln

In regards to this great Book [the Bible], I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it. – Abraham Lincoln

In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”; and since then, if we except the light and the air of heaven, no good thing has been, or can be enjoyed by us, without having first cost labour. – Abraham Lincoln

It is not ‘Is God on my side’, but ‘Am I on God’s side’. – Abraham Lincoln

It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity. – Abraham Lincoln

Let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation. – Abraham Lincoln

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap — let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; — let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars. – Abraham Lincoln

Take all that you can of this book upon reason, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man. (When a skeptic expressed surprise to see him reading a Bible) – Abraham Lincoln

That I am not a member of any Christian church is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures, and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular. – Abraham Lincoln

The Bible is not my book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma. – Abraham Lincoln

The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma. – Abraham Lincoln

The Bible says somewhere that we are desperately selfish. I think we would have discovered that fact without the Bible. – Abraham Lincoln

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party – and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. – Abraham Lincoln

To read in the Bible, as the word of God himself, that “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, [“] and to preach there-from that, “In the sweat of other mans faces shalt thou eat bread,” to my mind can scarcely be reconciled with honest sincerity. – Abraham Lincoln

When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior’s condensed statement of the substance of both law and Gospel, ‘Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and thy neighbor as thyself’ that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul. – Abraham Lincoln

On Slavery and Freedom

All men are created equal, except Negroes. – Abraham Lincoln

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We even we here hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought. Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith let us; to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is the last, best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is the natural condition of the human race, in which the Almighty intended men to live. Those who fight the purpose of the Almighty will not succeed. They always have been, they always will be beaten. – Abraham Lincoln

I can not but hate the prospect of slavery’s expansion. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world-enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites-causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity. – Abraham Lincoln

I hear you have abolitionists here. We have a few in Illinois, but we shot one the other day. – Abraham Lincoln

If we cannot give freedom to every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature. – Abraham Lincoln

I think slavery is wrong, morally, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union. – Abraham Lincoln

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. – Abraham Lincoln

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln

Judge Douglas declares that if any community wants slavery they have a right to have it. He can say that logically, if he says that there is no wrong in slavery; but if you admit that there is a wrong in it, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. – Abraham Lincoln

Negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept. – Abraham Lincoln

Now, I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil, having due regard for its actual existence amongst us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, and to all the constitutional obligations which have been thrown about it; but, nevertheless, desire a policy that looks to the prevention of it as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time when as a wrong it may come to an end. – Abraham Lincoln

Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. – Abraham Lincoln

Slavery is wrong. If Slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and Constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. – Abraham Lincoln

So plain that no one, high or low, ever does mistake it, except in a plainly selfish way; for although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself. – Abraham Lincoln

Those who are ready to sacrifice freedom for security ultimately will lose both. – Abraham Lincoln

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves and under a just God cannot long retain it. – Abraham Lincoln

We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln

We were proclaiming ourselves political hypocrites before the world, by thus fostering Human Slavery and proclaiming ourselves, at the same time, the sole friends of Human Freedom. – Abraham Lincoln

When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. – Abraham Lincoln

When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and true maxim that ‘a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing him of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause is really a good one. – Abraham Lincoln

When the hour comes for dealing with slavery, I trust I will be willing to do my duty though it cost my life. – Abraham Lincoln

When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run. – Abraham Lincoln

When you lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in the performance. – Abraham Lincoln

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. – Abraham Lincoln

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. – Abraham Lincoln

Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska, or other new territories, is not a matter of exclusive concern to the people who may go there. The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these territories. We want them for the homes of free white people. – Abraham Lincoln

Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people to exclude slavery, voted down? Plainly enough now, the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision. – Abraham Lincoln

Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue. – Abraham Lincoln

You know I dislike slavery, and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it. So far there is no cause of difference. But you say that sooner than yield your legal right to the slave, especially at the bidding of those who are not themselves interested, you would see the Union dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding you yield that right; very certainly I am not. I leave that matter entirely to yourself. I also acknowledge your rights and my obligations under the Constitution in regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down and caught and carried back to their stripes and unrequited toil; but I bite my lips and keep quiet. – Abraham Lincoln

You say [slavery] is wrong; but don’t you constantly object to anybody else saying so? Do you not constantly argue that this is not the right place to oppose it? You say it must not be opposed in the free States, because slavery is not there; it must not be opposed in the slave States, because it is there; it must not be opposed in politics, because that will make a fuss; it must not be opposed in the pulpit, because it is not religion. Then where is the place to oppose it? – Abraham Lincoln

You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us. – Abraham Lincoln

On Government

A general government shall do all those things which pertain to it, and all the local governments shall do precisely as they please in respect to those matters which exclusively concern them. – Abraham Lincoln

‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. – Abraham Lincoln

A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations…is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. – Abraham Lincoln

A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left. – Abraham Lincoln

Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two [good and evil]. – Abraham Lincoln

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. – Abraham Lincoln

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. – Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy. – Abraham Lincoln

But I must add that the U.S. government must not, as by this order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual, in a church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest, he must be checked; but let the churches, as such take care of themselves. It will not do for the U.S. to appoint Trustees, Supervisors, or other agents for the churches. – Abraham Lincoln

By adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts, and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. – Abraham Lincoln

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. – Abraham Lincoln

Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate–we cannot consecrate–we cannot hallow–this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – Abraham Lincoln

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth. – Abraham Lincoln

Government should stand behind its currency and credit and the bank deposits of the nation. No individual should suffer a loss of money through depreciation or inflated currency of Bank bankruptcy. – Abraham Lincoln

Government, possessing the power to create and issue currency and credit as money and enjoying the right to withdraw both currency and credit from circulation by taxation and otherwise, need not and should not borrow capital at interest as a means of financing government work and public enterprises. – Abraham Lincoln

I am struggling to maintain the government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it. – Abraham Lincoln

I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. – Abraham Lincoln

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government, who assist in bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding females). – Abraham Lincoln

If all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need of government. – Abraham Lincoln

If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such a case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such a minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it?… Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. – Abraham Lincoln

If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there, in this view, any assault upon the court, or the judges. It is a duty, from which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly brought before them; and it is no fault of theirs, if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes. – Abraham Lincoln

In all that people can do for themselves, government ought not to interfere. – Abraham Lincoln

In using the strong hand, as now compelled to do, the government has a difficult duty to perform. At the very best, it will by turns do both too little and too much. It can properly have no motive of revenge, no purpose to punish merely for punishment’s sake. While we must, by all available means, prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society. – Abraham Lincoln

It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. – Abraham Lincoln

It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. – Abraham Lincoln

Its authors meant it to be… a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack. – Abraham Lincoln

Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power. – Abraham Lincoln

Most governments have been based, practically, on the denial of equal rights of menours began, by affirming those rights. They said, some men are too ignorant, and vicious, to share in government. Possibly so, said we; and, by your system, you would always keep them ignorant, and vicious. We proposed to give all a chance; and we expected the weak to grow stronger, the ignorant wiser; and all better, and happier together. – Abraham Lincoln

Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its people or too weak to maintain its own existence? – Abraham Lincoln

Negro equality, Fudge!! How long in the Government of a God great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue to be knaves to vend and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagoguism as this? – Abraham Lincoln

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. – Abraham Lincoln

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it, “all men are created equal except negroes.” When the Know-nothings get control, it will read, “all men are created equal except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.” When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty–to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. – Abraham Lincoln

That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one. – Abraham Lincoln

The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another mans right of property. Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar; but in cases of conflict, the man before the dollar. – Abraham Lincoln

The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of the consumers. By the adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saves immense sums of interest. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. – Abraham Lincoln

The judge has also detained us awhile in regard to the distinction between his party and our party. His he assumes to be a national party–ours a sectional one. He does this in asking the question whether this country has any interest in the maintenance of the Republican party? He assumes that our party is altogether sectional–that the party to which he adheres is national; and the argument is that no party can be a rightful party–can be based upon rightful principles–unless it can announce its principles everywhere. I presume that Judge Douglas could not go into Russia and announce the doctrine of national Democracy; he could not denounce the doctrine of kings and emperors and monarchies in Russia; and it may be true of this country, that in some places we may not be able to proclaim a doctrine as clearly true as the truth of Democracy, because there is a section so directly opposed to it that they will not tolerate us in doing so. Is it the true test of the soundness of a doctrine, that in some places people won’t let you proclaim it? Is that the way to test the truth of any doctrine?- Abraham Lincoln

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people can not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. The first that in relation to wrongs embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need for government. – Abraham Lincoln

The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. – Abraham Lincoln

We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. – Abraham Lincoln

We must settle this question now — whether in a free government the minority have the right to break it up whenever they choose. If we fail, it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength our gallant and disciplined army? These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of those may be turned against our liberties, without making us weaker or stronger for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises. – Abraham Lincoln

When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government – that is despotism. – Abraham Lincoln

Wise statesmen … established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity should look up again at the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began…. – Abraham Lincoln

You can have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government; while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend” it. – Abraham Lincoln

On Politics

I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing; while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the wave of hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare to resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of their efforts; and, knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it, I never will. – Abraham Lincoln

I see the signs of the approaching triumph of the Republicans in the bearing of their political adversaries. A great deal of their war with us nowadays is mere bushwhacking. – Abraham Lincoln

My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. – Abraham Lincoln

Of our political revolution of ’76, we all are justly proud. It has given us a degree of political freedom, far exceeding that of any other nation of the earth. In it the world has found a solution of the long mooted problem, as to the capability of man to govern himself. In it was the germ which has vegetated, and still is to grow and expand into the universal liberty of mankind. – Abraham Lincoln

Our political problem now is “Can we, as a nation, continue together permanently forever–half slave, and half free?” The problem is too mighty for me. May God, in his mercy, superintend the solution. – Abraham Lincoln

Our political problem now is, “Can we as a nation continue together permanently – forever – half slave and half free?” – Abraham Lincoln

Politicians are a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men – Abraham Lincoln

Politics, as a trade, finds most and leaves nearly all dishonest. – Abraham Lincoln

The chief and real purpose of the Republican party is eminently conservative. It proposes nothing save and except to restore this government to its original tone in regard to this element of slavery, and there to maintain it, looking for no further change in reference to it than that which the original framers of the government themselves expected and looked forward to. – Abraham Lincoln

The Republican party think [slavery] wrong–we think it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong. We think it is a wrong not confining itself merely to the persons or the States where it exists, but that it is a wrong which in its tendency, to say the least, affects the existence of the whole nation. Because we think it wrong, we propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as a wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. – Abraham Lincoln

We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only to transmit these–the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation–to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform. – Abraham Lincoln

When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that “all men are created equal” a self evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim “a self evident lie” The fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day-for burning fire-crackers!!! – Abraham Lincoln

On Honesty and Truth

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed but I am bound to live the best life that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right and part from him when he goes wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong. – Abraham Lincoln

Tangible language, which often tells more falsehoods than truths. – Abraham Lincoln

Tell the truth and you won’t have so much to remember – Abraham Lincoln

The trouble with too many people is they believe the realm of truth always lies within their vision. – Abraham Lincoln

Honest statesmanship is the wise employment of individual meanness for the public good. – Abraham Lincoln

Honest statesmanship is the wise employment of individual meannesses for the public good. – Abraham Lincoln

On War and Peace

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, I see no probability of the British invading us but he will say to you be silent; I see it, if you dont. The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood. – Abraham Lincoln

As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. – Abraham Lincoln

Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets. – Abraham Lincoln

Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came. – Abraham Lincoln

During the Civil War, on hearing complaints that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant drank alcohol to excess Find out what Grant drinks and send a barrel of it to each of my other generals! – Abraham Lincoln

Have we ever had any peace on this slavery question? When are we to have peace upon it if it is kept in the position it now occupies? How are we ever to have peace upon it? That is an important question. – Abraham Lincoln

Here in my heart, my happiness, my house. Here inside the lighted window is my love, my hope, my life. Peace is my companion on the pathway winding to the threshold. Inside this portal dwells new strength in the security, serenity, and radiance of those I love above life itself. Here two will build new dreams–dreams that tomorrow will come true. The world over, these are the thoughts at eventide when footsteps turn ever homeward. In the haven of the hearthside is rest and peace and comfort. – Abraham Lincoln

I ask, then, if experience does not speak in thunder-tones, telling us that the policy which has given peace to the country heretofore, being returned to, gives the greatest promise of peace again. – Abraham Lincoln

I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes … I believe that it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate, which they could have to themselves. – Abraham Lincoln

I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and that I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not. And I ought to be blamed, if I could do better. You think I could do better; therefore you blame me already. I think I could not do better; therefore I blame you for blaming me. – Abraham Lincoln

I sincerely wish war was a pleasanter and easier business than it is, but it does not admit of holidays. – Abraham Lincoln

I wish to see, in process of disappearing, that only thing which ever could bring this nation to civil war. – Abraham Lincoln

If I had my way, this war would never have been commenced. If I had been allowed my way this war would have been ended before this. – Abraham Lincoln

If the people of Utah shall peacefully form a State Constitution tolerating polygamy, will the Democracy admit them into the Union? – Abraham Lincoln

In my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the government. The government will not use force unless force is used against it. – Abraham Lincoln

In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party. – Abraham Lincoln

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. – Abraham Lincoln

It is a good face. I am glad this war is over at last. – Abraham Lincoln

Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object – Abraham Lincoln

Much is being said about peace; and no man desires peace more ardently than I. Still I am yet unprepared to give up the Union fora peace which, so achieved, could not be of much duration. – Abraham Lincoln

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered–that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. – Abraham Lincoln

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. – Abraham Lincoln

Offering thanks in the midst of tragedy is an American tradition, even during a bloody Civil War. – Abraham Lincoln

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. – Abraham Lincoln

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that among freemen there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. – Abraham Lincoln

Peace is a thing which a person must be willing to fight for. – Abraham Lincoln

Peace will come soon to stay, and so come as to be worth keeping in all future time. It will then have proved that among free men there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal are sure their cases and pay the costs. – Abraham Lincoln

So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war power of the Government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction, by force, for its preservation. – Abraham Lincoln

Such will be a great lesson of peace: teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by war. – Abraham Lincoln

The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am, none who would do more to preserve it, but it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. – Abraham Lincoln

The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the constitution that no man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. – Abraham Lincoln

The war, the American Civil War of 1861-1865, would never have been possible without the sinister influence of the Jesuits. – Abraham Lincoln

There’s no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending. – Abraham Lincoln

Uniting workers should not lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. – Abraham Lincoln

War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible. – Abraham Lincoln

We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it never will until that time. – Abraham Lincoln

We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. – Abraham Lincoln

Yet, if God wills that (this war) continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be repaid by another drawn with the sword, … – Abraham Lincoln

On Virtue

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. – Abraham Lincoln

My experience has taught me that a man who has no vices has damned few virtues. – Abraham Lincoln

Teach economy. That is one of the first and highest virtues. It begins with saving money. – Abraham Lincoln

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Quotes

From Wikiquote

1820s

  • Abraham Lincoln
    his hand and pen
    he will be good but
    god knows When

    • Manuscript poem, as a teenager (ca. 1824–1826), in “Lincoln as Poet” at Library of Congress : Presidents as Poets also in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) edited by Roy. P. Basler, Vol. 1
  • Abraham Lincoln is my name
    And with my pen I wrote the same
    I wrote in both hast and speed
    and left it here for fools to read

    • Manuscript poem, as a teenager (ca. 1824–1826), in “Lincoln as Poet” at Library of Congress : Presidents as Poets, as published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) edited by Roy. P. Basler, Vol. 1

1830s

  • Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the Scriptures, and other works both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves.
    • Address Delivered in Candidacy for the State Legislature (9 March 1832)
  • Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.
    • Address Delivered in Candidacy for the State Legislature (9 March 1832)
  • These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people’s money to settle the quarrel.
    • Speech to Illinois legislature (January 1837); This is “Lincoln’s First Reported Speech”, found in the Sangamo Journal (28 January 1837) according to McClure’s Magazine (March 1896); also in Lincoln’s Complete Works (1905) ed. by Nicolay and Hay, Vol. 1, p. 24
  • I am mighty near one.
    • When asked if he was an abolitionist (1837)
  • Whatever Spiteful fools may Say —
    Each jealous, ranting yelper —
    No woman ever played the whore
    Unless She had a man to help her.

    • A stanza of Lincoln’s “On Seduction” (1837-39) as conveyed by James H. Matheny (1865 or 1866)
  • I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.
    • Letter to Mrs. Orville H. Browning (1 April 1838), Cllected Works, vol. 1. p. 119
  • Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.
    • Speech of the Sub-Treasury (1839), Collected Works 1:178
    • Variant (misspelling): The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; and it shall not deter me.

Illinois House Journal (1837)

  • Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
  • They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of Abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.
  • They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power under the Constitution to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.

The Lyceum Address (1838)

  • We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only to transmit these — the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation — to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.
  • At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
    At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
  • I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny.
  • Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana, they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former nor the burning suns of the latter; they are not the creature of climate, neither are they confined to the slaveholding or the non-slaveholding States. Alike they spring up among the pleasure-hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order-loving citizens of the land of steady habits. Whatever then their cause may be, it is common to the whole country. […] Such are the effects of mob law, and such are the scenes becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order, and the stories of which have even now grown too familiar to attract anything more than an idle remark. But you are perhaps ready to ask, “What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?” I answer, “It has much to do with it.” Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil, and much of its danger consists in the proneness of our minds to regard its direct as its only consequences.
  • When men take it in their heads to-day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded.
  • But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil. — By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. — Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquillity, who desire to abide by the laws and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country, seeing their property destroyed, their families insulted, and their lives endangered, their persons injured, and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better, become tired of and disgusted with a government that offers them no protection, and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocratic spirit which all must admit is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed — I mean the attachment of the people.
  • Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of [our] population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing-presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with impunity, depend upon it, this government cannot last. By such things the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it, and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak to make their friendship effectual. At such a time, and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric which for the last half century has been the fondest hope of the lovers of freedom throughout the world.
  • Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor — let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars. While ever a state of feeling such as this shall universally or even very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.
  • When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, or that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay, but till then let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.
  • There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that arises, as for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true; that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case, is the interposition of mob law, either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.
  • We hope all danger may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise would itself be extremely dangerous.
  • That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one.
  • It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon? — Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. — It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.
    • Often the portion of this passage on “Towering genius…” is quoted without any mention or acknowledgment that Lincoln was speaking of the need to sometimes hold the ambitions of such genius in check, when individuals aim at their own personal aggrandizement rather than the common good.
  • I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the Revolution had upon the passions of the people as distinguished from their judgment. By this influence, the jealousy, envy, and avarice incident to our nature and so common to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were for the time in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive, while the deep-rooted principles of hate, and the powerful motive of revenge, instead of being turned against each other, were directed exclusively against the British nation. And thus, from the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest cause — that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty. But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with the circumstances that produced it. I do not mean to say that the scenes of the Revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten, but that, like everything else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the Bible shall be read; but even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it heretofore has been. Even then they cannot be so universally known nor so vividly felt as they were by the generation just gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son, or a brother, a living history was to be found in every family — a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related — a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned. But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but what invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done — the leveling of its walls. They are gone. They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-restless hurricane has swept over them, and left only here and there a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage, unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs a few more ruder storms, then to sink and be no more. They were pillars of the temple of liberty; and now that they have crumbled away that temple must fall unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason.
  • Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence. — Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON.
    Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it“.

1840s

  • I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.
    • Letter to John T. Stuart (23 January 1841), Collected Works 1:229-30
  • … none seemed to think the injury arose from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very good thing.
    • Address to the Springfield Washingtonian Temperance Society (22 February 1842). Frequently misquoted as “It has long been recognized that the problems with alcohol relate not to the use of a bad thing, but to the abuse of a good thing.” [1]
  • I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall into this vice.
    • Address to the Springfield Washingtonian Temperance Society (22 February 1842), quoted at greater length in John Carroll Power (1889) Abraham Lincoln: His Life, Public Services, Death and Funeral Cortege
  • For several years past the revenues of the government have been unequal to its expenditures, and consequently loan after loan, sometimes direct and sometimes indirect in form, has been resorted to. By this means a new national debt has been created, and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to contemplate — a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in a time of war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing unwillingness either to increase the tariff or resort to direct taxation. But the one or the other must come. Coming expenditures must be met, and the present debt must be paid; and money cannot always be borrowed for these objects. The system of loans is but temporary in its nature, and must soon explode. It is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must soon fail and leave us destitute. As an individual who undertakes to live by borrowing soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and, next, no one left to borrow from, so must it be with a government. We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe this alternative is now denied by no one.
    • Whig Circular (1843), reported in Richard Watson Gilder and Daniel Fish Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1 (1905)
  • Believing that these propositions, and the [conclusions] I draw from them can not be successfully controverted, I, for the present, assume their correctness, and proceed to try to show, that the abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government, must result in the increase of both useless labour, and idleness; and so, in pro[por]tion, must produce want and ruin among our people.
    • “Fragments of a Tariff Discussion”, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 1, p. 415; according to the source Lincoln’s “scraps about protection were written by Lincoln, between his election to Congress in 1846, and taking his seat in Dec. 1847”.
  • It has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have laboured, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.
    • The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume I, “Fragments of a Tariff Discussion” (1 December 1847)
  • I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.
    • Letter to Allen N. Ford (11 August 1846), reported in Roy Prentice Basler, ed., Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings (1990 [1946])
  • Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right — a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.
    • Speech in the United States House of Representatives (12 January 1848)
  • Military glory, — that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood.
    • Speech in the United States House of Representatives opposing the Mexican war (12 January 1848)
  • Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, “I see no probability of the British invading us” but he will say to you, “Be silent; I see it, if you don’t.”
    The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.

    • Letter, while US Congressman, to his friend and law-partner William H. Herndon, opposing the Mexican-American War (15 February 1848)
  • In law it is a good policy never to plead what you need not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what you cannot.
    • Letter to former Illinois Attorney General Usher F. Linder (20 February 1848)
  • The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.
    • Speech in the House of Representatives (20 June 1848)
  • Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
    • Speech in the House of Representatives (20 June 1848)
  • The way for a young man to rise, is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder him.
    • Letter to William H Herndon (10 July 1848)
  • The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.
    • Letter to Joseph Gillespie (13 July 1849)

My Childhood’s Home I See Again (1844 – 1846)

  • My childhood’s home I see again,
    And sadden with the view;
    And still, as memory crowds my brain,
    There’s pleasure in it too.

    • Canto I
  • As leaving some grand waterfall,
    We, lingering, list its roar —
    So memory will hallow all
    We’ve known, but know no more.

    • Canto I
  • I range the fields with pensive tread,
    And pace the hollow rooms;
    And feel (companion of the dead)
    I’m living in the tombs.

    • Canto I
  • But here’s an object more of dread
    Than ought the grave contains —
    A human form with reason fled,
    While wretched life remains.

    Poor Matthew! Once of genius bright,
    A fortune-favored child —
    Now locked for aye, in mental night,
    A haggard mad-man wild.

    • Canto II
  • But this is past; and nought remains,
    That raised thee o’er the brute.
    Thy piercing shrieks, and soothing strains,
    Are like, forever mute.

    Now fare thee well — more thou the cause,
    Than subject now of woe.
    All mental pangs, by time’s kind laws,
    Hast lost the power to know.

    O death! Thou awe-inspiring prince,
    That keepst the world in fear;
    Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence,
    And leave him ling’ring here?

    • Canto II

1850s

  • Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.
    Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.

    • Fragment, Notes for a Law Lecture (1 July 1850?), cited in Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, Comprising his Speeches, Letters, State Papers, and Miscellaneous Writings, Vol. 2 (1894)
  • There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.
    • Fragment, Notes for a Law Lecture (1 July 1850), cited in Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, Comprising his Speeches, Letters, State Papers, and Miscellaneous Writings, Vol. 2 (1894)
  • If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. Why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.
    • Fragment on slavery (1 April 1854?), as quoted in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), Vol. 2, pp. 222-223
  • The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people can not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. The first – that in relation to wrongs – embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need for government.
    • Fragment on Government (1 July 1854?) in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln”, ed. Roy P. Basler, Vol. 2, pp. 220-221
  • The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown, and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.
    • Letter to George Robertson (15 August 1855)
  • If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already. It is but a small matter whether you read with anyone or not. I did not read with anyone. Get the books, and read and study them till you understand them in their principal features; and that is the main thing. It is of no consequence to be in a large town while you are reading. I read at New Salem, which never had three hundred people living in it. The books, and your capacity for understanding them, are just the same in all places…. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.
    • Letter to Isham Reavis (5 November 1855)
  • We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.
    • Speech at Bloomington (29 May 1856)
  • Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles.
    • Speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan (27 August 1856), Collected Works 1:391
  • Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much.
    • Speech at a Republican Banquet, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1856; see Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 532
  • Some more in this convention came from Kentucky to Illinois (instead of going to Missouri), not only to better their conditions, but also to get away from slavery. They have said so to me, and it is understood among us Kentuckians that we don’t like it one bit. Now, can we, mindful of the blessings of liberty which the early men of Illinois left to us, refuse a like privilege to the free men who seek to plant Freedom’s banner on our Western outposts? Should we not stand by our neighbors who seek to better their conditions in Kansas and Nebraska? Can we as Christian men, and strong and free ourselves, wield the sledge or hold the iron which is to manacle anew an already oppressed race ? “Woe unto them,” it is written, “that decree unrighteous decrees and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.” Can we afford to sin any more deeply against human liberty?
    • From the Speech Delivered Before the First Republican State Convention of Illinois, Held at Bloomington (1856); found in Speeches & Letters of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 (1894), J. M. Dent & Company, p. 56.
    • Also quoted by Ida Minerva Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln: Drawn from Original Sources and Containing Many Speeches, Letters, and Telegrams Hitherto Unpublished, and Illustrated with Many Reproductions from Original Paintings, Photographs, etc, Volume 4 (1902), Lincoln History Society; and by William C. Whitney; in ‘The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, v. 2′ . (1905) Lapsley, Arthur Brooks, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.
    • Definition of Democracy; see Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 532
  • Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest.
    • Speech at Springfield, Illinois (26 June 1857)
  • I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any Abolitionist.
    • Speech (10 July 1858)
  • They have seen in his round, jolly fruitful face, post-offices, land-offices, marshalships and cabinet-appointments, charge-ships and foreign missions, bursting out in wonderful exuberance, ready to be laid hold of by their greedy hands. Nobody has ever expected me to be president. In my poor, lean lank face nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting.
    • Speech in Springfield, Illinois (17 July 1858), referring to Stephen Douglas. Quoted in Charles Sumner (1861), The Promises of the Declaration of Independence
  • All I ask for the negro is that if you not like him, let him alone. If God gave him but little let him enjoy.
    • Speech in Springfield, Illinois (17 July 1858)
  • What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength our gallant and disciplined army? These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of those may be turned against our liberties, without making us weaker or stronger for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.
    • Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois (11 September 1858); quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; Mario Matthew Cuomo, Harold Holzer, G. S. Boritt, Lincoln on Democracy (Fordham University Press, September 1, 2004), 128. ISBN 978-0823223459.
      • Variant of the above quote: What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny All of those may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.
        • Fragment of Speech at Edwardsville, Ill., September 13, 1858; quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; The Writings of Abraham Lincoln V05) p. 6-7
  • Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.
    • Letter to Dr. Theodore Canisius (17 May 1859)
  • Negro equality! Fudge!! How long, in the government of a God, great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue to be knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagougeism as this?
    • Fragments: Notes for Speeches, September 1859, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) Vol. III; No transcripts or reports exist indicating that he ever actually used this expression in any of his speeches.
  • We know, Southern men declare that their slaves are better off than hired laborers amongst us. How little they know, whereof they speak! There is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us. Twentyfive years ago, I was a hired laborer. The hired laborer of yesterday, labors on his own account to-day; and will hire others to labor for him to-morrow. Advancement — improvement in condition — is the order of things in a society of equals. As Labor is the common burthen of our race, so the effort of some to shift their share of the burthen on to the shoulders of others, is the great, durable, curse of the race. Originally a curse for transgression upon the whole race, when, as by slavery, it is concentrated on a part only, it becomes the double-refined curse of God upon his creatures.
    • Fragmentary manuscript of a speech on free labor (17 September 1859?); The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (1953), vol. 3, p. 463
  • Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope. The power of hope upon human exertion, and happiness, is wonderful. The slave-master himself has a conception of it; and hence the system of tasks among slaves. The slave whom you can not drive with the lash to break seventy-five pounds of hemp in a day, if you will task him to break a hundred, and promise him pay for all he does over, he will break you a hundred and fifty. You have substituted hope, for the rod. And yet perhaps it does not occur to you, that to the extent of your gain in the case, you have given up the slave system, and adopted the free system of labor.
    • Fragmentary manuscript of a speech on free labor (17 September 1859?); The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (1953), vol. 3, pp. 463–464
  • I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists, because the Constitution forbids it, and the general welfare does not require us to do so. We must not withhold an efficient Fugitive Slave law, because the Constitution requires us, as I understand it, not to withhold such a law. But we must prevent the outspreading of the institution, because neither the Constitution nor general welfare requires us to extend it. We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade, and the enacting by Congress of a Territorial slave code. We must prevent each of these things being done by either Congresses or courts. The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
    • Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio, September 17, 1859; in “The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Five, Constitutional Edition”, edited by Arthur Brooks Lapsley and released as “The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Five, by Abraham Lincoln” by Project Gutenberg on July 5, 2009
  • If I should do so now it occurs that he places himself somewhat upon the ground of the parable of the lost sheep which went astray upon the mountains, and when the owner of the hundred sheep found the one that was lost and threw it upon his shoulders, and came home rejoicing, it was said that there was more rejoicing over the one sheep that was lost and had been found than over the ninety and nine in the fold. The application is made by the Saviour in this parable thus: ‘Verily I say unto you, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.’ Repentance before forgiveness is a provision of the Christian system, and on that condition alone will the Republicans grant his forgiveness.
    • Regarding his debate with Judge S. A. Douglas, in his Springfield address (17 July 1858), published in The Life, Speeches, and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln: Together with a Sketch of the Life of Hannibal Hamlin: Republican candidates for the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States (1860), p. 50
    • Lincoln was alluding to the words of Jesus in Luke 15:7
  • The Republican principle, the unalterable principle, never to be lost sight of, is that slavery is wrong.
    • Speech (1859)

      Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Speech at Peoria, Illinois (1854)

Speech at Peoria, Illinois, in Reply to Senator Douglas (16 October 1854); published in The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (1894) Vol. 2
  • The foregoing history may not be precisely accurate in every particular; but I am sure it is sufficiently so, for all the uses I shall attempt to make of it, and in it, we have before us, the chief material enabling us to correctly judge whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is right or wrong.
    I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong; wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska — and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined to take it.
    This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world — enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites — causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty — criticising the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.
  • When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals. My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole question, if indeed it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot then make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted, but for their tardiness in this I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.
  • Wherever slavery is, it has been first introduced without law. The oldest laws we find concerning it, are not laws introducing it; but regulating it, as an already existing thing.
  • The negative principle that no law is free law, is not much known except among lawyers.
  • “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this quotation, I meet that argument — I rush in — I take that bull by the horns. I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of self-government. My faith in the proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me. I extend the principle to communities of men as well as to individuals. I so extend it because it is politically wise, as well as naturally just: politically wise in saving us from broils about matters which do not concern us. Here, or at Washington, I would not trouble myself with the oyster laws of Virginia, or the cranberry laws of Indiana. The doctrine of self-government is right, — absolutely and eternally right, — but it has no just application as here attempted. Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it has such application depends upon whether a negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, in that case he who is a man may as a matter of self-government do just what he pleases with him.
    But if the negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himselfWhen the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government — that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that “all men are created equal,” and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another.
  • Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony and sarcasm, paraphrases our argument by saying: “The white people of Nebraska are good enough to govern themselves, but they are not good enough to govern a few miserable negroes!”
    Well! I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are and will continue to be as good as the average of people elsewhere. I do not say the contrary. What I do say is that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. I say this is the leading principle, the sheet-anchor of American republicanism. Our Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
    I have quoted so much at this time merely to show that, according to our ancient faith, the just powers of governments are derived from the consent of the governed. Now the relation of master and slave is pro tanto a total violation of this principle. The master not only governs the slave without his consent, but he governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow ALL the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-government.
  • I insist, that if there is ANY THING which it is the duty of the WHOLE PEOPLE to never entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity, of their own liberties, and institutions.
  • Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature — opposition to it, in his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the Missouri Compromise — repeal all compromises — repeal the Declaration of Independence — repeal all past history, you still can not repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of man’s heart, that slavery extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will continue to speak.
  • Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong.
  • Little by little, but steadily as man’s march to the grave, we have been giving up the OLD for the NEW faith. Near eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for SOME men to enslave OTHERS is a “sacred right of self-government.” These principles can not stand together. They are as opposite as God and mammon; and whoever holds to the one, must despise the other. […] Let no one be deceived. The spirit of seventy-six and the spirit of Nebraska, are utter antagonisms; and the former is being rapidly displaced by the latter.
  • Already the liberal party throughout the world, express the apprehension “that the one retrograde institution in America, is undermining the principles of progress, and fatally violating the noblest political system the world ever saw.” This is not the taunt of enemies, but the warning of friends. Is it quite safe to disregard it — to despise it? Is there no danger to liberty itself, in discarding the earliest practice, and first precept of our ancient faith? In our greedy chase to make profit of the negro, let us beware, lest we “cancel and tear to pieces” even the white man’s charter of freedom.
  • Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us repurify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution. Let us turn slavery from its claims of “moral right,” back upon its existing legal rights, and its arguments of ‘necessity’. Let us return it to the position our fathers gave it; and there let it rest in peace. Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it. Let north and south — let all Americans — let all lovers of liberty everywhere — join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union; but we shall have so saved it, as to make, and to keep it, forever worthy of the saving. We shall have so saved it, that the succeeding millions of free happy people, the world over, shall rise up, and call us blessed, to the latest generations.
  • In the course of my main argument, Judge Douglas interrupted me to say, that the principle the Nebraska bill was very old; that it originated when God made man and placed good and evil before him, allowing him to choose for himself, being responsible for the choice he should make. At the time I thought this was merely playful; and I answered it accordingly. But in his reply to me he renewed it, as a serious argument. In seriousness then, the facts of this proposition are not true as stated. God did not place good and evil before man, telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, he did tell him there was one tree, of the fruit of which, he should not eat, upon pain of certain death.

Letter to Joshua F. Speed (1855)

  • You know what a poor correspondent I am. Ever since I received your very agreeable letter of the 22nd. of May I have been intending to write you in answer to it. You suggest that in political action now, you and I would differ. I suppose we would; not quite as much, however, as you may think. You know I dislike slavery; and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it. So far there is no cause of difference. But you say that sooner than yield your legal right to the slave — especially at the bidding of those who are not themselves interested, you would see the Union dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding you to yield that right; very certainly I am not. I leave that matter entirely to yourself. I also acknowledge your rights and my obligations, under the constitution, in regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down, and caught, and carried back to their stripes, and unrewarded toils; but I bite my lip and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio, there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continued torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border. It is hardly fair for you to assume, that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union.
  • I do oppose the extension of slavery, because my judgment and feelings so prompt me; and I am under no obligation to the contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ we must. You say if you were President, you would send an army and hang the leaders of the Missouri outrages upon the Kansas elections; still, if Kansas fairly votes herself a slave state, she must be admitted, or the Union must be dissolved. But how if she votes herself a slave State unfairly — that is, by the very means for which you say you would hang men? Must she still be admitted, or the Union be dissolved? That will be the phase of the question when it first becomes a practical one. In your assumption that there may be a fair decision of the slavery question in Kansas, I plainly see you and I would differ about the Nebraska-law. I look upon that enactment not as a law, but as violence from the beginning. It was conceived in violence, passed in violence, is maintained in violence, and is being executed in violence. I say it was conceived in violence, because the destruction of the Missouri Compromise, under the circumstances, was nothing less than violence. It was passed in violence, because it could not have passed at all but for the votes of many members in violence of the known will of their constituents. It is maintained in violence because the elections since, clearly demand it’s repeal, and this demand is openly disregarded. You say men ought to be hung for the way they are executing that law; and I say the way it is being executed is quite as good as any of its antecedents. It is being executed in the precise way which was intended from the first; else why does no Nebraska man express astonishment or condemnation? Poor Reeder is the only public man who has been silly enough to believe that any thing like fairness was ever intended; and he has been bravely undeceived.
  • You enquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point. I think I am a whig; but others say there are no whigs, and that I am an abolitionist. When I was at Washington I voted for the Wilmot Proviso as good as forty times, and I never heard of any one attempting to unwhig me for that. I now do more than oppose the extension of slavery.
    I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be take pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].

    • Letter to longtime friend and slave-holder Joshua F. Speed (24 August 1855)

Speech on the Dred Scott Decision (1857)

  • We believe … in obedience to, and respect for the judicial department of government. We think its decisions on Constitutional questions, when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. … If this important decision had been made by the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, and had been in no part, based on assumed historical facts which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and re-affirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not acquiesce in it as a precedent.
  • Chief Justice does not directly assert, but plainly assumes, as a fact, that the public estimate of the black man is more favorable now than it was in the days of the Revolution. This assumption is a mistake. In some trifling particulars, the condition of that race has been ameliorated; but, as a whole, in this country, the change between then and now is decidedly the other way; and their ultimate destiny has never appeared so hopeless as in the last three or four years. In two of the five states — New Jersey and North Carolina — that then gave the free negro the right of voting, the right has since been taken away; and in a third — New York — it has been greatly abridged; while it has not been extended, so far as I know, to a single additional state, though the number of the States has more than doubled.
  • In those days, as I understand, masters could, at their own pleasure, emancipate their slaves; but since then, such legal restraints have been made upon emancipation, as to amount almost to prohibition. In those days, Legislatures held the unquestioned power to abolish slavery in their respective States; but now it is becoming quite fashionable for State Constitutions to withhold that power from the Legislatures. In those days, by common consent, the spread of the black man’s bondage to new countries was prohibited; but now, Congress decides that it will not continue the prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides that it could not if it would. In those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it. All the powers of earth seem rapidly combining against him. Mammon is after him; ambition follows, and philosophy follows, and the Theology of the day is fast joining the cry. They have him in his prison house; they have searched his person, and left no prying instrument with him. One after another they have closed the heavy iron doors upon him, and now they have him, as it were, bolted in with a lock of a hundred keys, which can never be unlocked without the concurrence of every key; the keys in the hands of a hundred different men, and they scattered to a hundred different and distant places; and they stand musing as to what invention, in all the dominions of mind and matter, can be produced to make the impossibility of his escape more complete than it is. It is grossly incorrect to say or assume, that the public estimate of the negro is more favorable now than it was at the origin of the government.
  • There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races; and Judge Douglas evidently is basing his chief hope, upon the chances of being able to appropriate the benefit of this disgust to himself. If he can, by much drumming and repeating, fasten the odium of that idea upon his adversaries, he thinks he can struggle through the storm. He therefore clings to this hope, as a drowning man to the last plank. He makes an occasion for lugging it in from the opposition to the Dred Scott decision. He finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes ALL men, black as well as white; and forth-with he boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, and eat, and sleep, and marry with negroes! He will have it that they cannot be consistent else. Now I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either, I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.
  • I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal; equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, nor for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack. I have now briefly expressed my view of the meaning and objects of that part of the Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal”.
  • Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest.
  • The Republicans inculcate, with whatever of ability they can, that the negro is a man; that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and that the field of his oppression ought not to be enlarged. The Democrats deny his manhood; deny, or dwarf to insignificance, the wrong of his bondage; so far as possible, crush all sympathy for him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against him; compliment themselves as Union-savers for doing so; and call the indefinite outspreading of his bondage “a sacred right of self-government”.

The House Divided speech (1858)

  • If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.
  • “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
    • In this famous statement, Lincoln is quoting the response of Jesus Christ to those who accused him of being able to cast out devils because he was empowered by the Prince of devils, recorded in Matthew 12:25: “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand”.
  • Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
    Have we no tendency to the latter condition?
    Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination — piece of machinery so to speak — compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision.
  • The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the States by State constitutions, and from most of the national territory by congressional prohibition. Four days later commenced the struggle which ended in repealing that congressional prohibition. This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained. But, so far, Congress only had acted; and an indorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable to save the point already gained and give chance for more. This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of “squatter sovereignty,” otherwise called “sacred right of self government,” which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man, choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object.
  • Under the Dred Scott decision, “squatter sovereignty” squatted out of existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding — like the mould at the foundry served through one blast and fell back into loose sand — helped to carry an election, and then was kicked to the winds.
  • The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection with Senator Douglas’s “care-not” policy, constitute the piece of machinery, in its present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. The working points of that machinery are: (1) That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This point is made in order to deprive the negro in every possible event of the benefit of that provision of the United States Constitution which declares that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.” (2) That, “subject to the Constitution of the United States,” neither Congress nor a territorial legislature can exclude slavery from any United States Territory. This point is made in order that individual men may fill up the Territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as property, and thus enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future. (3) That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free State makes him free as against the holder, the United States courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave State the negro may be forced into by the master. This point is made not to be pressed immediately, but, if acquiesced in for a while, and apparently indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the logical conclusion that what Dred Scott’s master might lawfully do with Dred Scott in the free State of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other one or one thousand slaves in Illinois or in any other free State.
  • Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mold public opinion, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are; and partially, also, whither we are tending.
    It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left “perfectly free,” subject only to the Constitution. What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect free freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people, voted down? Plainly enough now: the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision.
  • We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places, and by different workmen — Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, for instance — and when we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly matte the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortices exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few, — not omitting even scaffolding — or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to bring such piece in — in such a case we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.
  • While the opinion of the court, by Chief-Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott case and the separate opinions of all the concurring judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United States neither permits Congress nor a Territorial legislature to exclude slavery from any United States Territory, they all omit to declare whether or not the same Constitution permits a State, or the people of a State, to exclude it.
  • Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States. Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown. We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation. This is what we have to do. How can we best do it?
  • There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends and yet whisper us softly, that Senator Douglas is the aptest instrument there is with which to effect that object. They wish us to infer all this from the fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point upon which he and we have never differed. They remind us that he is a great man, and that the largest of us are very small ones. Let this be granted. But “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion, for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He does not care anything about it. His avowed mission is impressing the “public heart” to care nothing about it. A leading Douglas Democratic newspaper thinks Douglas’s superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the African slave-trade. Does Douglas believe an effort to revive that trade is approaching? He has not said so. Does he really think so? But if it is, how can he resist it? For years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro slaves into the new Territories. Can he possibly show that it is less a sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest? And unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia. He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of slavery to one of a mere right of property; and as such, how can he oppose the foreign slave trade — how can he refuse that trade in that “property” shall be “perfectly free” — unless he does it as a protection to the home production? And as the home producers will probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition.
  • Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser today than he was yesterday — that he may rightfully change when he finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change, of which he, himself, has given no intimation?
  • Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas’s position, question his motives, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But clearly, he is not now with us — he does not pretend to be — he does not promise ever to be. Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends — those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work — who do care for the result.
  • Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all them to falter now? — now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail — if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.

Speech at Chicago (1858)

  • We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty — or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one‑fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty‑two years and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country, with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men, we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves — we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole.
  • I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights, that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interfere with the right of no other State, and that the general government, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than that general class of things that does concern the whole.
  • There is something else connected with it. We have besides these men — descended by blood from our ancestors — among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe — German, Irish, French and Scandinavian — men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.
  • I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it! If it is not true let us tear it out! Let us stick to it then, let us stand firmly by it then.
  • It may be argued that there are certain conditions that make necessities and impose them upon us, and to the extent that a necessity is imposed upon a man he must submit to it. I think that was the condition in which we found ourselves when we established this government. We had slavery among us, we could not get our constitution unless we permitted them to remain in slavery, we could not secure the good we did secure if we grasped for more, and having by necessity submitted to that much, it does not destroy the principle that is the charter of our liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard.
  • It is said in one of the admonitions of the Lord, “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.” The Savior, I suppose, did not expect that any human creature could be perfect as the Father in Heaven; but He said, “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.” He set that up as a standard, and he who did most towards reaching that standard, attained the highest degree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the principle that all men are created equal, let it be as nearly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature. Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it.
  • Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.
  • I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.

Lincoln–Douglas debates (1858)

  • Now, it happens that we meet together once every year, sometimes about the fourth of July, for some reason or other. These fourth of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. … We are now a mighty nation; we are thirty, or about thirty, millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years, and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country, with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men; we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men; they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity which we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time, of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves, we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live, for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have besides these, men descended by blood from our ancestors — among us, perhaps half our people, who are not descendants at all of these men; they are men who have come from Europe — German, Irish, French and Scandinavian — men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence, they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration; and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.
    • Speech in Reply to Senator Stephen Douglas in the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate, at Chicago, Illinois (10 July 1858)
  • Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will, whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of this country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if, taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it, where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it? If it is not true let us tear it out! [Cries of “No, No.”] Let us stick to it, then; let us stand firmly by it, then. It may be argued that there are certain conditions that make necessities and impose them upon us, and to the extent that a necessity is imposed upon a man, he must submit to it. I think that was the condition in which we found ourselves when we established this Government. We had slavery among us, we could not get our Constitution unless we permitted them to remain in slavery, we could not secure the good we did secure if we grasped for more; and having by necessity submitted to that much, it does not destroy the principle that is the charter of our liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard.
    • Speech in reply to Senator Stephen Douglas in the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate, at Chicago, Illinois (10 July 1858)
  • My friend has said to me that I am a poor hand to quote Scripture. I will try it again, however. It is said in one of the admonitions of our Lord, “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.” The Saviour, I suppose, did not expect that any human creature could be perfect as the Father in Heaven; but He said, “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.” He set that up as a standard; and he who did most toward reaching that standard, attained the highest degree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the principle that all men are created equal, let it be as nearly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature. Let us then turn this Government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it. Let us stand firmly by each other. If we do not do so we are turning in the contrary direction, that our friend Judge Douglas proposes — not intentionally — as working in the traces tend to make this one universal slave nation. He is one that runs in that direction, and as such I resist him. My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desired to do, and I have only to say, let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man; this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position; discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal. My friends, I could not, without launching off upon some new topic, which would detain you too long, continue to-night. I thank you for this most extensive audience that you have furnished me to-night. I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.
    • Speech in reply to Senator Stephen Douglas in the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate, at Chicago, Illinois (10 July 1858)
  • I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
    • First Debate with Stephen Douglas in the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1858 campaign for the U.S. Senate, at Ottawa, Illinois (21 August 1858). Lincoln later quoted himself and repeated this statement in his first Inaugural Address (4 March 1861) to emphasize that any acts of secession were over-reactions to his election. During the war which followed his election he eventually declared the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in those states in rebellion against the union, arguably as a war measure rather than as an entirely political or moral initiative.
  • With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.
    • First debate with Stephen Douglas Ottawa, Illinois (21 August 1858)
  • While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing perfect equality between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me, I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men… I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.
    • Fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debate (Charleston, 18 September 1858)
  • The Judge has alluded to the Declaration of Independence, and insisted that negroes are not included in that Declaration; and that it is a slander upon the framers of that instrument, to suppose that negroes were meant therein; and he asks you: Is it possible to believe that Mister Jefferson, who penned the immortal paper, could have supposed himself applying the language of that instrument to the negro race, and yet held a portion of that race in slavery? Would he not at once have freed them? I only have to remark upon this part of the Judge’s speech, and that, too, very briefly, for I shall not detain myself, or you, upon that point for any great length of time, that I believe the entire records of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence up to within three years ago, may be searched in vain for one single affirmation, from one single man, that the negro was not included in the Declaration of Independence; I think I may defy Judge Douglas to show that he ever said so, that Washington ever said so, that any President ever said so, that any member of Congress ever said so, or that any living man upon the whole earth ever said so, until the necessities of the present policy of the Democratic Party, in regard to slavery, had to invent that affirmation. And I will remind Judge Douglas and this audience that while Mister Jefferson was the owner of slaves, as undoubtedly he was, in speaking upon this very subject he used the strong language that “he trembled for his country when he remembered that God was just;” and I will offer the highest premium in my power to Judge Douglas if he will show that he, in all his life, ever uttered a sentiment at all akin to that of Jefferson.
    • Fifth Lincoln-Douglas Debate (7 October 1858), regarding Stephen A. Douglas and the antebellum Democratic Party’s claim that African Americans were exempt from Thomas Jefferson’s assertion that all men were created equal.
  • Has it not got down as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death?
    • On popular sovereignty; rejoinder in the Sixth Lincoln-Douglas Debate (13 October 1858); reported in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (1953), vol. 3, p. 279
  • Now, I have upon all occasions declared as strongly as Judge Douglas against the disposition to interfere with the existing institution of slavery. You hear me read it from the same speech from which he takes garbled extracts for the purpose of proving upon me a disposition to interfere with the institution of slavery, and establish a perfect social and political equality between negroes and white people. Allow me while upon this subject briefly to present one other extract from a speech of mine, more than a year ago, at Springfield, in discussing this very same question, soon after Judge Douglas took his ground that negroes were not included in the Declaration of Independence: I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal — equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were then actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all, constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, everywhere… That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.
    • Seventh and Last Joint Debate with Steven Douglas, at Alton, Illinois (15 October 1858)

Speech at Lewistown, Illinois (1858)

  • The Declaration of Independence was formed by the representatives of American liberty from thirteen States of the confederacy; twelve of which were slaveholding communities. We need not discuss the way or the reason of their becoming slaveholding communities. It is sufficient for our purpose that all of them greatly deplored the evil and that they placed a provision in the Constitution which they supposed would gradually remove the disease by cutting off its source. This was the abolition of the slave trade. So general was conviction, the public determination, to abolish the African slave trade, that the provision which I have referred to as being placed in the Constitution, declared that it should not be abolished prior to the year 1808. A constitutional provision was necessary to prevent the people, through Congress, from putting a stop to the traffic immediately at the close of the war. Now, if slavery had been a good thing, would the Fathers of the Republic have taken a step calculated to diminish its beneficent influences among themselves, and snatch the boon wholly from their posterity? These communities, by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures… Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began, so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built…
  • Now, my countrymen if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur, and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty, let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountain whose waters spring close by the blood of the Revolution. Think nothing of me, take no thought for the political fate of any man whomsoever; but come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not only defeat me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to death. While pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do claim to be actuated in this contest by something higher than an anxiety for office. I charge you to drop every paltry and insignificant thought for any man’s success. It is nothing; I am nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But do not destroy that immortal emblem of Humanity; the Declaration of American Independence.

Letter to Henry L. Pierce (1859)

  • The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man’s right of property. Republicans, on the contrary, are both for the man and the dollar, but, in case of conflict, the man before the dollar. I remember once being much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat, and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men.
    • p. 375
  • The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society. And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them ”glittering generalities.” Another bluntly calls them “self-evident lies.” And others insidiously argue that they apply to “superior races.” These expressions, different in form, are identical in object and effect — the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads plotting against the people. They are the vanguard, the miner and sappers, of returning despotism. We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us.
    • p. 376
  • This is a world of compensation; and he would be no slave must consent to have no slaves. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
    • p. 377

Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society (1859)

An address given before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, in Milwaukee, on (30 September 1859) • Full text online at Wikisource
  • If any continue through life in the condition of the hired laborer, it is not the fault of the system, but because of either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular misfortune.
  • Some of you will be successful, and such will need but little philosophy to take them home in cheerful spirits; others will be disappointed, and will be in a less happy mood. To such, let it be said, “Lay it not too much to heart.” Let them adopt the maxim, “Better luck next time”; and then, by renewed exertion, make that better luck for themselves.
  • From the first appearance of man upon the earth, down to very recent times, the words “stranger” and “enemy” were quite or almost, synonymous. Long after civilized nations had defined robbery and murder as high crimes, and had affixed severe punishments to them, when practiced among and upon their own people respectively, it was deemed no offence, but even meritorious, to rob, and murder, and enslave strangers, whether as nations or as individuals. Even yet, this has not totally disappeared. The man of the highest moral cultivation, in spite of all which abstract principle can do, likes him whom he does know, much better than him whom he does not know. To correct the evils, great and small, which spring from want of sympathy, and from positive enmity, among strangers, as nations, or as individuals, is one of the highest functions of civilization.
  • Every man is proud of what he does well; and no man is proud of what he does not do well. With the former, his heart is in his work; and he will do twice as much of it with less fatigue. The latter performs a little imperfectly, looks at it in disgust, turns from it, and imagines himself exceedingly tired. The little he has done, comes to nothing, for want of finishing.
  • The ambition for broad acres leads to poor farming, even with men of energy. I scarcely ever knew a mammoth farm to sustain itself; much less to return a profit upon the outlay. I have more than once known a man to spend a respectable fortune upon one; fail and leave it; and then some man of more modest aims, get a small fraction of the ground, and make a good living upon it. Mammoth farms are like tools or weapons, which are too heavy to be handled. Ere long they are thrown aside, at a great loss.
  • The world is agreed that labor is the source from which human wants are mainly supplied. There is no dispute upon this point. From this point, however, men immediately diverge. Much disputation is maintained as to the best way of applying and controlling the labor element. By some it is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital — that nobody labors, unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow, by the use of that capital, induces him to do it. Having assumed this, they proceed to consider whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent; or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far they naturally conclude that all laborers are necessarily either hired laborers, or slaves. They further assume that whoever is once a hired laborer, is fatally fixed in that condition for life; and thence again that his condition is as bad as, or worse than that of a slave. This is the “mud-sill” theory. … By the “mud-sill” theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a tread-mill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be — all the better for being blind, that he could not tread out of place, or kick understandingly. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious, and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all.
  • The old general rule was that educated people did not perform manual labor. They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. But now, especially in these free States, nearly all are educated — quite too nearly all, to leave the labor of the uneducated, in any wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from this that henceforth educated people must labor. Otherwise, education itself would become a positive and intolerable evil. No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.
  • I suppose, however, I shall not be mistaken, in assuming as a fact, that the people of Wisconsin prefer free labor, with its natural companion, education. This leads to the further reflection, that no other human occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought, as agriculture. I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind, as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable — nothing which so lightens and sweetens toil, as the hopeful pursuit of such discovery. And how vast, and how varied a field is agriculture, for such discovery. The mind, already trained to thought, in the country school, or higher school, cannot fail to find there an exhaustless source of profitable enjoyment.
  • Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure.
  • A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones.
  • It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

Autobiographical Sketch Written for Jesse W. Fell (1859)

Written on December 20, 1859; as published in The Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln (1905) pp. 31-36.
  • My dear Sir: Herewith is a little sketch, as you requested. There is not much of it, for the reason, I suppose, that there is not much of me. If anything be made out of it, I wish it to be modest, and not to go beyond the material. If it were thought necessary to incorporate anything from any of my speeches, I suppose there would be no objection. Of course it must not appear to have been written by myself.
  • My parents were both born in Virginia of undistinguished families… My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks
  • My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky about 1781 or 1782, where a year or two later he was killed by the Indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were Quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age, and he grew up literally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached our new home about the time the State came into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up.
  • There were some schools, so called, but no qualification was ever required of a teacher beyond “readin’, writin’, and cipherin’ ” to the rule of three. If a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course, when I came of age I did not know much. Still, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the rule of three, but that was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.
  • I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty-two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, Macon County. Then I got to New Salem, at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County, where I remained a year as a sort of clerk in a store.
  • Then came the Black Hawk war; and I was elected a captain of volunteers, a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the campaign, was elated, ran for the legislature the same year (1832), and was beaten — the only time I ever have been beaten by the people. The next and three succeeding biennial elections I was elected to the legislature. I was not a candidate afterwards. During this legislative period I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice it.
  • In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Congress. Was not a candidate for reëlection. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before. Always a Whig in politics; and generally on the Whig electoral tickets making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.
  • If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said I am, in height, six feet four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes. No other marks or brands recollected.

    Abraham Lincoln Quotes

1860s

  • I have scarcely felt greater pain in my life than on learning yesterday from Bob’s letter, that you had failed to enter Harvard University. And yet there is very little in it, if you will allow no feeling of discouragement to seize, and prey upon you. It is a certain truth, that you can enter, and graduate in, Harvard University; and having made the attempt, you must succeed in it. “Must´´ is the word. I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not.
    • Lettert to George C. Latham (22 July 1860); published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 4
  • I thank you, in common with all others, who have thought fit, by their votes, to indorse the Republican cause. I rejoice with you in the success which has, so far, attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicing let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.
    • Remarks at Springfield, Illinois (20 November 1860); published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 142
  • I think very much of the people, as an old friend said he thought of woman. He said when he lost his first wife, who had been a great help to him in his business, he thought he was ruined — that he could never find another to fill her place. At length, however, he married another, who he found did quite as well as the first, and that his opinion now was that any woman would do well who was well done by. So I think of the whole people of this nation — they will ever do well if well done by. We will try to do well by them in all parts of the country, North and South, with entire confidence that all will be well with all of us.
    • Remarks at Bloomington, Illinois (21 November 1860); published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 143
  • All this is not the result of accident. It has a philosophical cause. Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these, are not the primary cause of our great prosperity. There is something back of these, entwining itself more closely about the human heart. That something, is the principle of “Liberty to all” — the principle that clears the path for all — gives hope to all — and, by consequence, enterprize, and industry to all. The expression of that principle, in our Declaration of Independence, was most happy, and fortunate. Without this, as well as with it, we could have declared our independence of Great Britain; but without it, we could not, I think, have secured our free government, and consequent prosperity. No oppressed, people will fight, and endure, as our fathers did, without the promise of something better, than a mere change of masters. The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word, “fitly spoken” which has proved an “apple of gold” to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture. So let us act, that neither picture, or apple shall ever be blurred, or bruised or broken. That we may so act, we must study, and understand the points of danger.
    • Fragment on the Constitution and the Union (c. January, 1861); published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 168
  • While I do not expect, upon this occasion, or on any occasion, till after I get to Washington, to attempt any lengthy speech, I will only say that to the salvation of this Union there needs but one single thing — the hearts of a people like yours. When the people rise in masses in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, truly may it be said, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In all the trying positions in which I shall be placed, and doubtless I shall be placed in many trying ones, my reliance will be placed upon you and the people of the United States — and I wish you to remember now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these States, and the liberties of this people, shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me. I desire they shall be constitutionally preserved. I, as already intimated, am but an accidental instrument, temporary, and to serve but for a limited time, but I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?“
    • Reply to Oliver P. Morton at Indianapolis, Indiana (February 11, 1861); published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 202, p. 193-194
  • I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that the working men are the basis of all governments, for the plain reason that they are the most numerous, and as you added that those were the sentiments of the gentlemen present, representing not only the working class, but citizens of other callings than those of the mechanic, I am happy to concur with you in these sentiments, not only of the native born citizens, but also of the Germans and foreigners from other countries. Mr. Chairman, I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind; and therefore, without entering upon the details of the question, I will simply say, that I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.
    • Speech to Germans at Cincinnati, Ohio (February 12, 1861); published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 202
    • The phrase “I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.” is allusion to British jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer Jeremy Bentham who wrote in his “Extracts from Bentham’s Commonplace Book”, in Collected Works, x, p. 142: “Priestley was the first (unless it was Beccaria) who taught my lips to pronounce this sacred truth — that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.
  • I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.
    • Remarks at the Monogahela House (14 February 1861); as published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 4, p. 209
  • I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured.
    • Proclamation Calling Militia and Convening Congress on (15 April 1861)
  • And whereas it is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to his chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offences, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action… And whereas, when our own beloved Country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy, — to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of law, order and peace, throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing, by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence: —
    • Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation of a Day of Fasting (12 August 1861)
  • Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next, as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the People, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace and bring down plentiful blessings upon our Country.
    • Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation of a Day of Fasting (12 August 1861)
  • I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we can not hold Missouri, nor, as I think, Maryland.
    • Letter to Orville Hickman Browning (22 September 1861)
  • The Confederacy stands for slavery and the Union for freedom.
    • Private conversation (January 1862)
  • The severest justice may not always be the best policy.
    • Veto message, eventually not executed, written as a response to the Second Confiscation Act passed by Congress. (17 July 1862)
    • The Emancipation Proclamation, by John Hope Franklin, Doubleday Anchor Books, New York, NY, 1963, p. 19
  • I am a patient man — always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance. Still I must save this government if possible.
    • Letter to Reverdy Johnson (26 July 1862)
  • Broken eggs cannot be mended; but Louisiana has nothing to do now but to take her place in the Union as it was, barring the already broken eggs. The sooner she does so, the smaller will be the amount of that which will be past mending. This government cannot much longer play a game in which it stakes all, and its enemies stake nothing. Those enemies must understand that they cannot experiment for ten years trying to destroy the government, and if they fail still come back into the Union unhurt.
    • Letter to August Belmont (31 July 1832) in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, p. 350-351
  • You and I are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other races. Whether it be right or wrong, I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living amongst us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.
    • Statement to the Deputation of Free Negroes (14 August 1862), in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Baler, Rutgers University Press, 1953, Vol. V, p. 371
  • May our children and our children’s children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers.
    • Second Speech at Frederick, Maryland (4 October 1862)
  • In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.
    • Letter to Fanny McCullough (23 December 1862); Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler
  • I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the Army, of criticizing their Commander, and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army, while such a spirit prevails in it.
    • Letter to Major General Joseph Hooker (26 January 1863)
  • Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
    • Letter to Major General Joseph Hooker (26 January 1863)
  • We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
    • Upon proclaiming a National Fast Day (30 March 1863)
  • The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed, can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy.
    • to Erastus Corning and Others (12 June 1863) in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol.6” (The Abraham Lincoln Association, 1953), p. 265
  • Long experience has shown that armies can not be maintained unless desertion shall be punished by the severe penalty of death. The case requires, and the law and the constitution, sanction this punishment. Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feeling, till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy, that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked administration of a contemptable government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.
    • Letter to Erastus Corning and Others (12 June 1863) in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 6” (The Abraham Lincoln Association, 1953), p. 266
  • I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did, march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
    • Letter to Ulysses S. Grant (13 July 1863), Washington, D.C.
  • It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and the usages and customs of war as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person, on account of his color, and for no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age. The government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our possession. It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war
    • Order of Retaliation (30 July 1863); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 357
  • Sir; You are directed to have a transport.. sent to the colored colony of San Domingo to bring back to this country such of the colonists there as desire to return.
  • The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.
    • Address in Baltimore, Maryland (18 April 1864)
  • None are so deeply interested to resist the present rebellion as the working people. Let them beware of prejudice, working division and hostility among themselves. The most notable feature of a disturbance in your city last summer, was the hanging of some working people by other working people. It should never be so. The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. Nor should this lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor — property is desirable — is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
    • Reply to New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association (21 March 1864), Collected Works, Vol. 7, p. 259-260 1:566
  • I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.
    • Reply to delegation from the National Union League approving and endorsing “the nominations made by the Union National Convention at Baltimore.” New York Times, Herald, and Tribune (10 June 1864) Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7
  • I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.
    • Likely spurious quote, UNVERIFIED ATTRIBUTE – Quoted in The Lexington Observer & Reporter (16 June 1864)
  • Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.
    • Letter to Edwin Stanton (14 July 1864); published in Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) by John Hay
  • I am much indebted to the good christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.
    • Letter to Eliza Gurney (4 September 1864); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 7 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 535
  • In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book.
    • Words on being presented with a Bible, as reported in the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle (8 September 1864)
  • I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.
    • Reply to Missouri Committee of Seventy (30 September 1864)
  • I earnestly believe that the consequences of this day’s work, if it be as you assume, and as now seems probable, will be to the lasting advantage, if not to the very salvation, of the country. I cannot at this hour say what has been the result of the election. But, whatever it may be, I have no desire to modify this opinion: that all who have labored to-day in behalf of the Union have wrought for the best interests of the country and the world; not only for the present, but for all future ages. I am thankful to God for this approval of the people; but, while deeply grateful for this mark of their confidence in me, if I know my heart, my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph. I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one, but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people’s resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity.
    • Response to a Serenade, November 9, 1864 (one day after the United States presidential election of 1864; in “The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Seven, Constitutional Edition”, edited by Arthur Brooks Lapsley and released as “The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Seven, by Abraham Lincoln” (2009) by Project Gutenberg
  • Dear Madam, I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln
    • Letter to Mrs. Bixby in Boston (21 November 1864); some scholars suggest that John Hay, a secretary of President Lincoln’s, actually wrote this letter. The Files of the war department were inaccurate: Mrs. Bixby lost two sons.
  • In a great national crisis like ours unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable — almost indispensable. And yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable unless some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority simply because it is the will of the majority.
    • Fourth State of the Union Address (December 6, 1864)
  • It is no fault in others that the Methodist Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospital, and more prayers to Heaven than any. God bless the Methodist Church — bless all the churches — and blessed be to God, who, in this our great trial, giveth us the churches.
    • To the 1864 general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as quoted in Abraham Lincoln : A History Vol. 6 (1890) by John George Nicolay and John Hay, Ch. 15, p. 324
  • Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them.
    • Letter to Thurlow Weed (15 March 1865), reproduced in Lord Charnwood (1916), Abraham Lincoln: A Biography
  • I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly, those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
    • Statement to an Indiana Regiment passing through Washington (17 March 1865); The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Volume VIII
  • Stop, you political tramp. You, the aider and abettor of those who have brought all this ruin upon your country, without the courage to risk your person in defense of the principles you profess to espouse! A fellow who stood by to gather up the loaves and fishes, if any should fall to you! A man who had no principles in the North, and took none South with him! A political hyena who robbed the graves of the dead, and adopted their language as his own! You talk of the North cutting the throats of the Southern people. You have all cut your own throats, and, unfortunately, have cut many of those of the North. Miserable impostor, vile intruder! Go, before I forget myself and the high position I hold! Go, I tell you, and don’t desecrate this national vessel another minute!
  • I propose now closing up by requesting you play a certain piece of music or a tune. I thought “Dixie” one of the best tunes I ever heard… I had heard our adversaries over the way had attempted to appropriate it. I insisted yesterday that we had fairly captured it… I presented the question to the Attorney-General, and he gave his opinion that it is our lawful prize… I ask the Band to give us a good turn upon it.
    • At the end of the Civil War, asking that a military band play “Dixie” (10 April 1865) as quoted in Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy (1962) by Hans Nathan. Variant account: “I have always thought “Dixie” one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it… I now request the band to favor me with its performance”.
  • Did Stanton say I was a damned fool? Then I dare say I must be one, for Stanton is generally right and he always says what he means.
    • As quoted in Lincoln; An Account of his Personal Life, Especially of its Springs of Action as Revealed and Deepened by the Ordeal of War (1922) by Nathaniel Wright Stephenson.
  • I do not like that man. I must get to know him better.
    • As quoted in Costs of Administering Reparation for Work Injuries in Illinois (1952) by Alfred Fletcher Conard, p. 28

Recollections of the Civil War] (1898)

  • In my opinion the religion that makes men rebel and fight against their government is not the genuine article, nor is the religion the right sort which reconciles them to the idea of eating their bread in the sweat of other men’s faces. It is not the kind to get to heaven on.
    • As quoted in Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865 (1895), by Ward Hill Lamon, p. 90
  • He’s the quietest little fellow you ever saw. He makes the least fuss of any man you ever knew. I believe he had been in this room a minute or so before I knew he was here. Grant is the first general I have had. You know how it’s been with all the rest. As soon as I put a man in command of the army, they all wanted me to be the general. Now it isn’t so with Grant. He hasn’t told me what his plans are. I don’t know and I don’t want to know. I am glad to find a man who can go ahead without me. He doesn’t ask impossibilities of me, and he’s the first general I’ve had that didn’t.
    • About General U.S. Grant, as quoted in The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Narrative and Descriptive Biography, by Francis Fisher Brown, p. 520

Cooper Union speech (1860)

Speech to the Cooper Institute, New York, New York (27 February 1860) – Full text online at Wikisource; similar remarks to many of these were made in later speeches elsewhere.
  • I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience — to reject all progress — all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.
  • Let all who believe that “our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now,” speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask — all Republicans desire — in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guarantees those fathers gave it, be, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.
  • You say you are conservative — eminently conservative — while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;” while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers.
  • Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinciple” that “if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,” fantastically called “Popular Sovereignty”; but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations.
  • Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling — that sentiment — by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the ballot-box, into some other channel?
  • It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. Even though the southern people will not so much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we possibly can.
  • An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not “distinctly and expressly affirmed” in it.
  • But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!” To be sure, what the robber demanded of me — my money — was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.
  • If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away.
  • Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care — such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.
  • Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.

Speech at Hartford (1860)

Speech at Hartford, Connecticut (5 March 1860), Evening Press.
  • Slavery is the great political question of the nation. Though all desire its settlement, it still remains the all-pervading question of the day. It has been so especially for the past six years. It is indeed older than the revolution, rising, subsiding, then rising again, till fifty-four, since which time it has been constantly augmenting. Those who occasioned the Lecompton imbroglio now admit that they see no end to it. It had been their cry that the vexed question was just about to be settled, ‘the tail of this hideous creature is just going out of sight’. That cry is ‘played out’, and has ceased.
  • Why, when all desire to have this controversy settled, can we not settle it satisfactorily? One reason is, we want it settled in different ways. Each faction has a different plan, they pull different ways, and neither has a decided majority. In my humble opinion, the importance and magnitude of the question is underrated, even by our wisest men. If I be right, the first thing is to get a just estimate of the evil — then we can provide a cure.
  • One-sixth, and a little more, of the population of the United States are slaves, looked upon as property, as nothing but property. The cash value of these slaves, at a moderate estimate, is $2,000,000,000. This amount of property value has a vast influence on the minds of its owners, very naturally. The same amount of property would have an equal influence upon us if owned in the north. Human nature is the same, people at the south are the same as those at the north, barring the difference in circumstances. Public opinion is founded, to a great extent, on a property basis. What lessons the value of property is opposed, what enhances its value is favored. Public opinion at the south regards slaves as property and insists upon treating them like other property.
  • On the other hand, the free states carry on their government on the principle of the equality of men. We think slavery is morally wrong, and a direct violation of that principle. We all think it wrong. It is clearly proved, I think, by natural theology, apart from revelation. Every man, black, white or yellow, has a mouth to be fed and two hands with which to feed it, and that bread should be allowed to go to that mouth without controversy.
  • Slavery is wrong in its effect upon white people and free labor; it is the only thing that threatens the Union. It makes what Senator Seward has been much abused for calling an ‘irrepressible conflict’. When they get ready to settle it, we hope they will let us know. Public opinion settles every question here, any policy to be permanent must have public opinion at the bottom, something in accordance with the philosophy of the human mind as it is. The property basis will have its weight. The love of property and a consciousness of right or wrong have conflicting places in our organization, which often make a man’s course seem crooks, his conduct a riddle.
  • Some men would make it a question of indifference, neither right nor wrong, merely a question of dollars and cents, the Almighty has drawn a line across the land, below which it must be cultivated by slave labor, above which by free labor. They would say: ‘If the question is between the white man and the negro, I am for the white man; if between the negro and the crocodile, I am for the negro.’ There is a strong effort to make this policy of indifference prevail, but it can not be a durable one. A ‘don’t care’ policy won’t prevail, for every body does care.
  • Is there a Democrat, especially one of the Douglas wing, but will declare that the Declaration of Independence has no application to the negro? It would be safe to offer a moderate premium for such a man. I have asked this question in large audiences where they were in the habit of answering right out, but no one would say otherwise. Not one of them said it five years ago. I never heard it till I heard it from the lips of Judge Douglas. True, some men boldly took the bull by the horns and said the Declaration of Independence was not true! They didn’t sneak around the question. I say I heard first from Douglas that the Declaration did not apply to black men. Not a man of them said it till then, they all say it now. This is a long stride towards establishing the policy of indifference, one more such stride, I think, would do it.
  • The proposition that there is a struggle between the white man and the negro contains a falsehood. There is no struggle. If there was, I should be for the white man. If two men are adrift at sea on a plank which will bear up but one, the law justifies either in pushing the other off. I never had to struggle to keep a negro from enslaving me, nor did a negro ever have to fight to keep me from enslaving him. They say, between the crocodile and the negro they go for the negro. The logical proportion is therefore; as a white man is to a negro, so is a negro to a crocodile; or, as the negro may treat the crocodile, so the white man may treat the negro. The ‘don’t care’ policy leads just as surely to nationalizing slavery as Jeff Davis himself, but the doctrine is more dangerous because more insidious.
  • If the Republicans, who think slavery is wrong, get possession of the general government, we may not root out the evil at once, but may at least prevent its extension. If I find a venomous snake lying on the open praire, I seize the first stick and kill him at once. But if that snake is in bed with my children, I must be more cautious. I shall, in striking the snake, also strike the children, or arouse the reptile to bite the children. Slavery is the venomous snake in bed with the children. But if the question is whether to kill it on the prairie or put it in bed with other children, I think we’d kill it!
  • Another illustration. When for the first time I met Mister Clay, the other day in the cars, in front of us sat an old gentleman with an enormous wen upon his neck. Everybody would say the wen was a great evil, and would cause the man’s death after a while. But you couldn’t cut it out, for he’d bleed to death in a minute. But would you engraft the seeds of that wen on the necks of sound and healthy men? He must endure and be patient, hoping for possible relief. The wen represents slavery on the neck of this country. This only applies to those who think slavery is wrong. Those who think it right would consider the snake a jewel, and the wen an ornament.
  • We want those who think slavery wrong to quit voting with those who think it right. They don’t treat it as they do other wrongs. They won’t oppose it in the free states for it isn’t there, nor in the slave states for it is there; don’t want it in politics, for it makes agitation; not in the pulpit, for it isn’t religion; not in a Tract Society, for it makes a fuss. There is no place for its discussion. Are they quite consistent in this?
  • If those democrats really think slavery wrong they will be much pleased when earnest men in the slave states take up a plan of gradual emancipation and go to work energetically and very kindly to get rid of the evil. Now let us test them. Frank Blair tried it; and he ran for Congress in ’58, and got beaten. Did the democracy feel bad about it? I reckon not, I guess you all flung up your hats and shouted ‘Hurrah for the Democracy!’
  • He went on to speak of the manner in which slavery was treated by the Constitution. The word ‘slave’ is no where used; the supply of slaves was to be prohibited after 1808; they stopped the spread of it in the territories; seven of the states abolished it. He argued very conclusively that it was then regarded as an evil which would eventually be got rid of, and that they desired, once rid of it, to have nothing in the constitution to remind them of it. The Republicans go back to first principles and deal with it as a wrong. Mason, of Va., said openly that the framers of our government were anti-slavery. Hammond of S.C., said ‘Washington set this evil example’. Bully Brooks said: ‘At the time the Constitution was formed, no one supposed slavery would last till now’. We stick to the policy of our fathers.
  • The Democracy are given to ‘bushwhacking’. After having their errors and mis-statements continually thrust in their faces, they pay no heed, but go on howling about Seward and the ‘irrepressible conflict’. That is ‘bushwhacking’. So with John Brown and Harper’s Ferry. They charge it upon the Republican party and ignominiously fail in all attempts to substantiate the charge. Yet they go on with their bushwhacking, the pack in full cry after John Brown.
  • The democrats had just been whipped in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and seized upon the unfortunate Harper’s Ferry affair to influence other elections then pending. They said to each other, ‘Jump in, now’s your chance’, and were sorry there were not more killed. But they didn’t succeed well. Let them go on with their howling. They will succeed when by slandering women you get them to love you, and by slandering men you get them to vote for you.
  • Mister Lincoln then took up the Massachusetts shoemakers’ strike, treating it in a humorous and philosophical manner, and exposing to ridicule the foolish pretense of Senator Douglas, that the strike arose from ‘this unfortunate sectional warfare’. Mister Lincoln thanked God that we have a system of labor where there can be a strike. Whatever the pressure, there is a point where the workman may stop.
  • He didn’t pretend to be familiar with the subject of the shoe strike, probably knew as little about it as Senator Douglas himself. This strike has occurred as the Senator says, or it has not. Shall we stop making war upon the South? We never have made war upon them. If any one has, better go and hang himself and save Virginia the trouble. If you give up your convictions and call slavery right as they do, you let slavery in upon you, instead of white laborers who can strike, you’ll soon have black laborers who can’t strike.
  • I have heard that in consequence of this ‘sectional warfare’, as Douglas calls it, Senator Mason of Va., had appeared in a suit of homespun. Now up in New Hampshire, the woolen and cotton mills are all busy, and there is no strike. They are busy making the very goods Senator Mason has quit buying! To carry out his idea, he ought to go barefoot! If that’s the plan, they should begin at the foundation, and adopt the well-known ‘Georgia costume’ of a shirt-collar and pair of spurs!
  • It reminded him of the man who had a poor old lean, bony, spavined horse, with swelled legs. He was asked what he was going to do with such a miserable beast, the poor creature would die. ‘Do?’ said he. ‘I’m going to fat him up; don’t you see that I have got him seal fat as high as the knees?’ Well, they’ve got the Union dissolved up to the ankle, but no farther!
  • All portions of this confederacy should act in harmony and with careful deliberation. The Democrats cry John Brown invasion. We are guiltless of it, but our denial does not satisfy them. Nothing will satisfy them but disinfecting the atmosphere entirely of all opposition to slavery. They have not demanded of us to yield the guards of liberty in our state constitutions, but it will naturally come to that after a while. If we give up to them, we cannot refuse even their utmost request. If slavery is right, it ought to be extended; if not, it ought to be restricted, there is no middle ground. Wrong as we think it, we can afford to let it alone where it of necessity now exists; but we cannot afford to extend it into free territory and around our own homes. Let us stand against it!
  • The ‘Union’ arrangements are all a humbug. They reverse the scriptural order, calling the righteous and not sinners to repentance. Let us not be slandered or intimidated to turn from our duty. Eternal right makes might. As we understand our duty, let us do it!

Allow the humblest man an equal chance (1860)

“Allow the humblest man an equal chance” speech (6 March 1860) at New Haven, Connecticut
  • Fellow citizens of New Haven, if the Republican Party of this nation shall ever have the national house entrusted to its keeping, it will be the duty of that party to attend to all the affairs of national housekeeping. Whatever matters of importance may come up, whatever difficulties may arise in the way of its administration of the government, that party will then have to attend to. It will then be compelled to attend to other questions, besides this question which now assumes an overwhelming importance — the question of Slavery. It is true that in the organization of the Republican party this question of Slavery was more important than any other; indeed, so much more important has it become that no other national question can even get a hearing just at present. The old question of tariff — a matter that will remain one of the chief affairs of national housekeeping to all time — the question of the management of financial affairs; the question of the disposition of the public domain — how shall it be managed for the purpose of getting it well settled, and of making there the homes of a free and happy people — these will remain open and require attention for a great while yet, and these questions will have to be attended to by whatever party has the control of the government. Yet, just now, they cannot even obtain a hearing, and I do not purpose to detain you upon these topics, or what sort of hearing they should have when opportunity shall come.
  • For, whether we will or not, the question of Slavery is the question, the all absorbing topic of the day. It is true that all of us, and by that I mean, not the Republican party alone, but the whole American people, here and elsewhere, all of us wish this question settled, wish it out of the way. It stands in the way, and prevents the adjustment, and the giving of necessary attention to other questions of national house-keeping. The people of the whole nation agree that this question ought to be settled, and yet it is not settled. And the reason is that they are not yet agreed how it shall be settled. All wish it done, but some wish one way and some another, and some a third, or fourth, or fifth; different bodies are pulling in different directions, and none of them having a decided majority, are able to accomplish the common object.
  • In the beginning of the year 1854 a new policy was inaugurated with the avowed object and confident promise that it would entirely and forever put an end to the Slavery agitation. It was again and again declared that under this policy, when once successfully established, the country would be forever rid of this whole question. Yet under the operation of that policy this agitation has not only not ceased, but it has been constantly augmented. And this too, although, from the day of its introduction, its friends, who promised that it would wholly end all agitation, constantly insisted, down to the time that the Lecompton bill was introduced, that it was working admirably, and that its inevitable tendency was to remove the question forever from the politics of the country. Can you call to mind any Democratic speech, made after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, down to the time of the Lecompton bill, in which it was not predicted that the Slavery agitation was just at an end; that “the abolition excitement was played out,” “the Kansas question was dead,” “they have made the most they can out of this question and it is now forever settled.” But since the Lecompton bill no Democrat, within my experience, has ever pretended that he could see the end. That cry has been dropped. They themselves do not pretend, now, that the agitation of this subject has come to an end yet.
  • The truth is, that this question is one of national importance, and we cannot help dealing with it: we must do something about it, whether we will or not. We cannot avoid it; the subject is one we cannot avoid considering; we can no more avoid it than a man can live without eating. It is upon us; it attaches to the body politic as much and as closely as the natural wants attach to our natural bodies. Now I think it important that this matter should be taken up in earnest, and really settled. And one way to bring about a true settlement of the question is to understand its true magnitude.
  • Look at the magnitude of this subject! One sixth of our population, in round numbers — not quite one sixth, and yet more than a seventh, — about one sixth of the whole population of the United States are slaves! The owners of these slaves consider them property. The effect upon the minds of the owners is that of property, and nothing else — it induces them to insist upon all that will favorably affect its value as property, to demand laws and institutions and a public policy that shall increase and secure its value, and make it durable, lasting and universal. The effect on the minds of the owners is to persuade them that there is no wrong in it. The slaveholder does not like to be considered a mean fellow, for holding that species of property, and hence he has to struggle within himself and sets about arguing himself into the belief that Slavery is right. The property influences his mind. […] Certain it is, that this two thousand million of dollars, invested in this species of property, all so concentrated that the mind can grasp it at once — this immense pecuniary interest, has its influence upon their minds.
  • To us it appears natural to think that slaves are human beings; men, not property; that some of the things, at least, stated about men in the Declaration of Independence apply to them as well as to us. I say, we think, most of us, that this Charter of Freedom applies to the slave as well as to ourselves, that the class of arguments put forward to batter down that idea, are also calculated to break down the very idea of a free government, even for white men, and to undermine the very foundations of free society. We think Slavery a great moral wrong, and while we do not claim the right to touch it where it exists, we wish to treat it as a wrong in the Territories, where our votes will reach it. We think that a respect for ourselves, a regard for future generations and for the God that made us, require that we put down this wrong where our votes will properly reach it. We think that species of labor an injury to free white men — in short, we think Slavery a great moral, social and political evil, tolerable only because, and so far as its actual existence makes it necessary to tolerate it, and that beyond that, it ought to be treated as a wrong.
  • No policy that does not rest upon some philosophical public opinion can be permanently maintained. And hence, there are but two policies in regard to Slavery that can be at all maintained. The first, based on the property view that Slavery is right, conforms to that idea throughout, and demands that we shall do everything for it that we ought to do if it were right. We must sweep away all opposition, for opposition to the right is wrong; we must agree that Slavery is right, and we must adopt the idea that property has persuaded the owner to believe — that Slavery is morally right and socially elevating. This gives a philosophical basis for a permanent policy of encouragement. The other policy is one that squares with the idea that Slavery is wrong, and it consists in doing everything that we ought to do if it is wrong. […] I don’t mean that we ought to attack it where it exists. To me it seems that if we were to form a government anew, in view of the actual presence of Slavery we should find it necessary to frame just such a government as our fathers did; giving to the slaveholder the entire control where the system was established, while we possessed the power to restrain it from going outside those limits. From the necessities of the case we should be compelled to form just such a government as our blessed fathers gave us; and, surely, if they have so made it, that adds another reason why we should let Slavery alone where it exists.
  • If I saw a venomous snake crawling in the road, any man would say I might seize the nearest stick and kill it; but if I found that snake in bed with my children, that would be another question. I might hurt the children more than the snake, and it might bite them. Much more if I found it in bed with my neighbor’s children, and I had bound myself by a solemn compact not to meddle with his children under any circumstances, it would become me to let that particular mode of getting rid of the gentleman alone. But if there was a bed newly made up, to which the children were to be taken, and it was proposed to take a batch of young snakes and put them there with them, I take it no man would say there was any question how I ought to decide! That is just the case! The new Territories are the newly made bed to which our children are to go, and it lies with the nation to say whether they shall have snakes mixed up with them or not. It does not seem as if there could be much hesitation what our policy should be!
  • There is a falsehood wrapped up in that statement. “In the struggle between the white man and the negro” assumes that there is a struggle, in which either the white man must enslave the negro or the negro must enslave the white. There is no such struggle! It is merely an ingenious falsehood, to degrade and brutalize the negro. Let each let the other alone, and there is no struggle about it. If it was like two wrecked seamen on a narrow plank, when each must push the other off or drown himself, I would push the negro off or a white man either, but it is not; the plank is large enough for both. This good earth is plenty broad enough for white man and negro both, and there is no need of either pushing the other off.
  • So that saying, “in the struggle between the negro and the crocodile,” &c., is made up from the idea that down where the crocodile inhabits a white man can’t labor; it must be nothing else but crocodile or negro; if the negro does not the crocodile must possess the earth; [Laughter;] in that case he declares for the negro. The meaning of the whole is just this: As a white man is to a negro so is a negro to a crocodile; and as the negro may rightfully treat the crocodile, so may the white man rightfully treat the negro. This very dear phrase coined by its author, and so dear that he deliberately repeats it in many speeches, has a tendency to still further brutalize the negro, and to bring public opinion to the point of utter indifference whether men so brutalized are enslaved or not.
  • But those who say they hate slavery, and are opposed to it, but yet act with the Democratic party — where are they? Let us apply a few tests. You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong, that you are not willing to deal with as a wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender of this one wrong and no other? You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will allow it to be even called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the Free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Slave States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!
  • It is easy to demonstrate that “our Fathers, who framed this government under which we live,” looked on Slavery as wrong, and so framed it and everything about it as to square with the idea that it was wrong, so far as the necessities arising from its existence permitted. In forming the Constitution they found the slave trade existing; capital invested in it; fields depending upon it for labor, and the whole system resting upon the importation of slave-labor. They therefore did not prohibit the slave trade at once, but they gave the power to prohibit it after twenty years. Why was this? What other foreign trade did they treat in that way? Would they have done this if they had not thought slavery wrong? Another thing was done by some of the same men who framed the Constitution, and afterwards adopted as their own act by the first Congress held under that Constitution, of which many of the framers were members; they prohibited the spread of Slavery into Territories. Thus the same men, the framers of the Constitution, cut off the supply and prohibited the spread of Slavery, and both acts show conclusively that they considered that the thing was wrong. If additional proof is wanting it can be found in the phraseology of the Constitution. When men are framing a supreme law and chart of government, to secure blessings and prosperity to untold generations yet to come, they use language as short and direct and plain as can be found, to express their meaning. In all matters but this of Slavery the framers of the Constitution used the very clearest, shortest, and most direct language. But the Constitution alludes to Slavery three times without mentioning it once! The language used becomes ambiguous, roundabout, and mystical. They speak of the “immigration of persons,” and mean the importation of slaves, but do not say so. In establishing a basis of representation they say “all other persons,” when they mean to say slaves — why did they not use the shortest phrase? In providing for the return of fugitives they say “persons held to service or labor.” If they had said slaves it would have been plainer, and less liable to misconstruction. Why didn’t they do it. We cannot doubt that it was done on purpose. Only one reason is possible, and that is supplied us by one of the framers of the Constitution — and it is not possible for man to conceive of any other — they expected and desired that the system would come to an end, and meant that when it did, the Constitution should not show that there ever had been a slave in this good free country of ours!
  • One of the reasons why I am opposed to Slavery is just here. What is the true condition of the laborer? I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. When one starts poor, as most do in the race of life, free society is such that he knows he can better his condition; he knows that there is no fixed condition of labor, for his whole life. I am not ashamed to confess that twenty five years ago I was a hired laborer, mauling rails, at work on a flat-boat — just what might happen to any poor man’s son! I want every man to have the chance — and I believe a black man is entitled to it — in which he can better his condition — when he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him! That is the true system.
  • You have done nothing, and have protested that you have done nothing, to injure the South. And yet, to get back the shoe trade, you must leave off doing something that you are now doing. What is it? You must stop thinking slavery wrong! Let your institutions be wholly changed; let your State Constitutions be subverted, glorify slavery, and so you will get back the shoe trade — for what? You have brought owned labor with it to compete with your own labor, to underwork you, and to degrade you! Are you ready to get back the trade on those terms?
  • Let us notice some more of the stale charges against Republicans. You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your section — gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section this very year. The fact that we get no votes in your section is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have started — to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; and so meet it as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No? Then you really believe that the principle which our fathers who framed the Government under which we live thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is, in fact, so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment’s consideration.
  • But you say you are conservative — eminently conservative while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by our fathers who framed the Government under which we live; while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You have considerable variety of new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slavetrade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the Judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rin-ciple” that “if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,” fantastically called “Popular Sovereignty;” [great laughter,] but never a man among you in favor of Federal prohibition of Slavery in Federal Territories, according to the practice of our fathers who framed the Government under which we live. Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. And yet you draw yourselves up and say “We are eminently conservative!”
  • It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. Even though the Southern people will not so much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we possibly can. […] we must not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches, we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them, Alike unavailing to convince them is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.
  • These natural and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only; cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly — done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated — we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Douglas’s new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that Slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State Constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected of all taint of opposition to Slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us. So long as we call Slavery wrong, whenever a slave runs away they will overlook the obvious fact that he ran because he was oppressed, and declare he was stolen off. Whenever a master cuts his slaves with the lash, and they cry out under it, he will overlook the obvious fact that the negroes cry out because they are hurt, and insist that they were put up to it by some rascally abolitionist.
  • Slavery is wrong. If Slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and Constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality — its universality; if it is wrong they cannot justly insist upon its extension — its enlargement. All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought Slavery right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it right as they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with their view, and against our own? In view of our moral, social, and political responsibilities, can we do this?
    Wrong as we think Slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States?
    If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care — such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations of Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington did.
  • Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty, as we understand it.

A Short Autobiography (1860)

A Short Autobiography, Written in June 1860, at the Request of a Friend to use in preparing a Popular Campaign Biography at the Election of that Year, from The Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln (1905) by Abraham Lincoln
  • From this place he removed to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in the autumn of 1816. Abraham then being in his eighth year. …though very young, was large for his age, and had an ax put into his hands at once; and from that till within his twenty-third year he was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument — less, of course, in plowing and harvesting seasons.
  • Abraham took an early start as a hunter, which was never much improved afterwards. A few days before the completion of his eighth year, in the absence of his father, a flock of wild turkeys approached the new log cabin, and Abraham with a rifle-gun standing inside, shot through a crack and killed one of them. He has never since pulled a trigger on any larger game.
  • Abraham now thinks that the aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year. He was never in a college or academy as a student, and never inside of a college or academy building till since he had a law license. What he has in the way of education he has picked up. After he was twenty-three and had separated from his father, he studied English grammar — imperfectly of course, but so as to speak and write as well as he now does. He studied and nearly mastered the six books of Euclid since he was a member of Congress. He regrets his want of education, and does what he can to supply the want. In his tenth year he was kicked by a horse, and apparently killed for a time.
  • March 1, 1830, Abraham having just completed his twenty-first year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters and sons-in-law of his stepmother, left the old homestead in Indiana and came to Illinois. …Here they built a log cabin, into which they removed, and made sufficient of rails to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and broke the ground, and raised a crop of sown corn upon it the same year. These are, or are supposed to be, the rails about which so much is being said just now, though these are far from being the first or only rails ever made by Abraham.
  • The Black Hawk war of 1832 broke out. Abraham joined a volunteer company, and, to his own surprise, was elected captain of it. He says he has not since had any success in life which gave him so much satisfaction. He went to the campaign, served near three months, met the ordinary hardships of such an expedition, but was in no battle. He now owns, in Iowa, the land upon which his own warrants for the service were located. Returning from the campaign, and encouraged by his great popularity among his immediate neighbors, he the same year ran for the legislature, and was beaten — his own precinct, however, casting its votes 277 for and 7 against him… This was the only time Abraham was ever beaten on a direct vote of the people.
  • A man offered to sell, and did sell, to Abraham and another as poor as himself, an old stock of goods, upon credit. They opened as merchants; and he says that was the store. Of course they did nothing but get deeper and deeper in debt. He was appointed postmaster at New Salem — the office being too insignificant to make his politics an objection. The store winked out. The surveyor of Sangamon offered to depute to Abraham that portion of his work which was within his part of the County. He accepted, procured a compass and chain, studied Flint and Gibson a little, and went at it. This procured bread, and kept soul and body together. The election of 1834 came, and he was then elected to the legislature by the highest vote cast for any candidate. Major John T. Stuart, then in full practice of the law, was also elected. During the canvass, in a private conversation, he encouraged Abraham to study law.
  • After the election he borrowed books of Stuart, took them home with him, and went at it in good earnest. He studied with nobody. He still mixed in the surveying to pay board and clothing bills. When the legislature met, the law-books were dropped, but were taken up again at the end of the session. He was reëlected in 1836, 1838, and 1840. In the autumn of 1836 he obtained a law license, and on April 15, 1837, removed to Springfield, and commenced the practice — his old friend Stuart taking him into partnership.
  • In 1846 he was elected to the lower House of Congress, and served one term only, commencing in December, 1847, and ending with the inauguration of General Taylor, in March, 1849. All the battles of the Mexican war had been fought before Mr. Lincoln took his seat in Congress but the American army was still in Mexico, and the treaty of peace was not fully and formally ratified till the June afterwards. …he voted for all the supply measures that came up, and for all the measures in any way favorable to the officers, soldiers, and their families, who conducted the war through: with the exception that some of these measures passed without yeas and nays, leaving no record as to how particular men voted. The “Journal” and “Globe” also show him voting that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United States.
  • Mr. Lincoln’s reasons for the opinion expressed by this vote were briefly that the President had sent General Taylor into an inhabited part of the country belonging to Mexico, and not to the United States, and thereby had provoked the first act of hostility, in fact the commencement of the war; that the place, being the country bordering on the east bank of the Rio Grande, was inhabited by native Mexicans born there under the Mexican Government, and had never submitted to, nor been conquered by, Texas or the United States, nor transferred to either by treaty; that although Texas claimed the Rio Grande as her boundary, Mexico had never recognized it, and neither Texas nor the United States had ever enforced it; that there was a broad desert between that and the country over which Texas had actual control; that the country where hostilities commenced, having once belonged to Mexico, must remain so until it was somehow legally transferred, which had never been done.
    Mr. Lincoln thought the act of sending an armed force among the Mexicans was unnecessary, inasmuch as Mexico was in no way molesting or menacing the United States or the people thereof; and that it was unconstitutional, because the power of levying war is vested in Congress, and not in the President. He thought the principal motive for the act was to divert public attention from the surrender of “Fifty-four, forty, or fight” to Great Britain, on the Oregon boundary question.
  • In 1848, during his term in Congress, he advocated General Taylor’s nomination for the presidency, in opposition to all others, and also took an active part for his election after his nomination…
  • Upon his return from Congress he went to the practice of the law with greater earnestness than ever before. …In 1854 his profession had almost superseded the thought of politics in his mind, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused him as he had never been before.
    In the autumn of that year he took the stump with no broader practical aim or object than to secure, if possible, the reëlection of Hon. Richard Yates to Congress. His speeches at once attracted a more marked attention than they had ever before done. …
    In the canvass of 1856 Mr. Lincoln made over fifty speeches, no one of which, so far as he remembers, was put in print. One of them was made at Galena, but Mr. Lincoln has no recollection of any part of it being printed… he thinks he could not have expressed himself as represented.

Letter to Alexander H. Stephens (1860)

Letter to Alexander H. Stephens (22 December 1860), Springfield, Illinois.
  • Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears.
  • The South would be in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of Washington. I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.

Illinois Farewell Address (1861)

Delivered at Springfield, Illinois, on February 11, 1861, before embarking on his inaugural journey to Washington. A Version of the Farewell Address as provided by Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 190. For the Original Manuscript of Farewell Address as provided by Library of Congress see here.
  • My friends — No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Speech to Germans at Cincinnati, Ohio (1861)

Speech to Germans at Cincinnati, Ohio (12 February 1861)
Commercial version
  • [W]orking men are the basis of all governments, for the plain reason that they are the most numerous, and as you added that those were the sentiments of the gentlemen present, representing not only the working class, but citizens of other callings than those of the mechanic, I am happy to concur with you in these sentiments, not only of the native born citizens, but also of the Germans and foreigners from other countries.
  • [W]hile man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind; and therefore, without entering upon the details of the question, I will simply say, that I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.
  • [I]n so far as the Government lands can be disposed of, I am in favor of cutting up the wild lands into parcels, so that every poor man may have a home.
  • In regard to the Germans and foreigners, I esteem them no better than other people, nor any worse. It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles-the oppression of tyranny-to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke, than to add anything that would tend to crush them.
  • Inasmuch as our country is extensive and new, and the countries of Europe are densely populated, if there are any abroad who desire to make this the land of their adoption, it is not in my heart to throw aught in their way, to prevent them from coming to the United States.
Gazette version
  • [W]orking men are the basis of all governments. That remark is due to them more than to any other class, for the reason that there are more of them than of any other class. And as your address is presented to me not only on behalf of workingmen, but especially of Germans, I may say a word as to classes. I hold the value of life is to improve one’s condition. Whatever is calculated to advance the condition of the honest, struggling laboring man, so far as my judgment will enable me to judge of a correct thing. I am for that thing.
  • [T]he wild lands of the country should be distributed so that every man should have the means and opportunity of benefitting his condition.
  • In regard to Germans and foreigners, I esteem foreigners no better than other people, nor any worse. They are all of the great family of men, and if there is one shackle upon any of them, it would be far better to lift the load from them than to pile additional loads upon them. And inasmuch as the continent of America is comparatively a new country, and the other countries of the world are old countries, there is more room here, comparatively speaking, than there is there; and if they can better their condition by leaving their old homes, there is nothing in my heart to forbid them coming; and I bid them all God speed.

Speech in Independence Hall (1861)

Speech in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (22 February 1861); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 204.
  • I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here, in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to the present distracted condition of the country. I can say in return, Sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated and were given to the world from this hall.
  • I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence; I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that Independence. I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
  • Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can’t be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle. I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it.
    • Some historians have opined that the assassination quip was in response to an assassination threat Lincoln had been notified about earlier.
  • Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced’ upon the Government. The Government will not use force unless force is used against it.
  • My friends, this is a wholly unprepared speech. I did not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here. I supposed I was merely to do something towards raising a flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet, but I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, in the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.

First Inaugural Address (1861)

First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861)
  • I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them.
  • In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion — no using of force against, or among the people anywhere.
  • If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution — certainly would if such a right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations and negations, guarantees and prohibitions, in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain, express provisions for all possible questions.
  • Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.
  • I do not forget the position, assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding, in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.
  • One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This I think, can not be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section, while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other. Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them, Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.
  • This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.
  • The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if also they choose, but the Executive as such has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to his hands and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor.
  • Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?
  • While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.
  • My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.
  • Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.
  • In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it”.
  • I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Fourth of July Address to Congress (1861)

Address to Congress (4 July 1861)
Between the fall of Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861, and July of that same year, President Abraham Lincoln took a number of actions without Congressional approval including the suspension of Habeas corpus. Lincoln did these actions in response to secession by eleven southern slave states which declared their secession from the United States in response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States and formed the Confederate States of America. In his address to Congress, Lincoln asks Congress to validate his actions by authorizing them after the fact. This address also marks Lincoln’s first full explanation of the purpose of the war as “a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life” and the “successful maintenance [of this government] against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it.”
  • It is thus seen that the assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was in no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could by no possibility commit aggression upon them. They knew-they were expressly notified-that the giving of bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They knew that this Government desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to assail them, but merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution, trusting, as hereinbefore stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the fort for precisely the reverse object — to drive out the visible authority of the Federal Union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution. That this was their object the Executive well understood; and having said to them in the inaugural address, “You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors,” he took pains not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry as that the world should not be able to misunderstand it. By the affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that point was reached. Then and thereby the assailants of the Government began the conflict of arms, without a gun in sight or in expectancy to return their fire, save only the few in the fort, sent to that harbor years before for their own protection, and still ready to give that protection in whatever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else, they have forced upon the country the distinct issue, “Immediate dissolution or blood.”
  • And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy — a government of the people by the same people — can or can not maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask, Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?
  • It might seem at first thought to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called “secession” or “rebellion.” The movers, however, well understand the difference. At the beginning they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They knew their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in and reverence for the history and Government of their common country as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly, they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps through all the incidents to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is that any State of the Union may consistently with the National Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice. With rebellion thus sugar coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, and until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretense of taking their State out of the Union who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.
  • This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a State — to each State of our Federal Union. Our States have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution, no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence, and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas; and even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted for the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the “United Colonies” were declared to be “free and independent States;” but even then the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge and their mutual action before, at the time, and afterwards abundantly show. The express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen in the Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of “State rights,” asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the “sovereignty” of the States, but the word even is not in the National Constitution, nor, as is believed, in any of the State constitutions. What is a “sovereignty” in the political sense of the term? Would it be far wrong to define it “a political community without a political superior”? Tested by this, no one of our States, except Texas, ever was a sovereignty; and even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union, by which act she acknowledged the Constitution of the United States and the laws and treaties of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution to be for her the supreme law of the land. The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from this, they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and in turn the Union threw off their old dependence for them and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union. Of course it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union, nevertheless dependent upon and preparatory to coming into the Union.
  • Unquestionably the States have the powers and rights reserved to them in and by the National Constitution; but among these surely are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive, but at most such only as were known in the world at the time as governmental powers; and certainly a power to destroy the Government itself had never been known as a governmental — as a merely administrative power. This relative matter of national power and State rights, as a principle, is no other than the principle of generality and locality . Whatever concerns the whole should be confided to the whole — to the General Government — while whatever concerns only the State should be left exclusively to the State. This is all there is of original principle about it. Whether the National Constitution in defining boundaries between the two has applied the principle with exact accuracy is not to be questioned. We are all bound by that defining without question.
  • What is now combated is the position that secession is consistent with the Constitution — is lawful and peaceful . It is not contended that there is any express law for it, and nothing should ever be implied as law which leads to unjust or absurd consequences. The nation purchased with money the countries out of which several of these States were formed. Is it just that they shall go off without leave and without refunding? The nation paid very large sums (in the aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred millions) to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes. Is it just that she shall now be off without consent or without making any return? The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding States in common with the rest. Is it just either that creditors shall go unpaid or the remaining States pay the whole? A part of the present national debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas. Is it just that she shall leave and pay no part of this herself?
  • Again: If one State may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditors? Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain.
  • The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. They have assumed to make a national constitution of their own, in which of necessity they have either discarded or retained the right of secession, as they insist it exists in ours. If they have discarded it, they thereby admit that on principle it ought not to be in ours. If they have retained it, by their own construction of ours they show that to be consistent they must secede from one another whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling their debts or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The principle itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no government can possibly endure.
  • The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed were being resisted and failing of execution in nearly one-third of the States. Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear that by the use of the means necessary to their execution some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen’s liberty that practically it relieves more of the guilty than of the innocent, should to a very limited extent be violated? To state the question more directly, Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the Government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated? Even in such a case, would not the official oath be broken if the Government should be overthrown when it was believed that disregarding the single law would tend to preserve it?
  • The provision of the Constitution that “the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it” is equivalent to a provision — is a provision — that such privilege may be suspended when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a case of rebellion and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was authorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not the Executive, is vested with this power; but the Constitution itself is silent as to which or who is to exercise the power; and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it can not be believed the framers of the instrument intended that in every case the danger should run its course until Congress could be called together, the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion.
  • The evidence reaching us from the country leaves no doubt that the material for the work is abundant, and that it needs only the hand of legislation to give it legal sanction and the hand of the Executive to give it practical shape and efficiency. One of the greatest perplexities of the Government is to avoid receiving troops faster than it can provide for them. In a word, the people will save their Government if the Government itself will do its part only indifferently well.
  • This is essentially a people’s contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.
  • Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled — the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains — its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they can not take by an election neither can they take it by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
  • Lest there be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what is to be the course of the Government toward the Southern States after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper to say it will be his purpose then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws, and that he probably will have no different understanding of the powers and duties of the Federal Government relatively to the rights of the States and the people under the Constitution than that expressed in the inaugural address.
  • He desires to preserve the Government, that it may be administered for all as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens everywhere have the right to claim this of their government, and the government has no right to withhold or neglect it. It is not perceived that in giving it there is any coercion, any conquest, or any subjugation in any just sense of those terms.
  • The Constitution provides, and all the States have accepted the provision, that “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government.” But if a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so it may also discard the republican form of government; so that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guaranty mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory.
  • It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war power in defense of the Government forced upon him. He could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Government. No compromise by public servants could in this case be a cure; not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent that those who carry an election can only save the government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.
  • As a private citizen the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish; much less could he in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility he has so far done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and your action may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights of a certain and speedy restoration to them under the Constitution and the laws. And having thus chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God and go forward without fear and with manly hearts.

First State of the Union address (1861)

First State of the Union Address (3 December 1861)
  • A nation which endures factious domestic division is exposed to disrespect abroad, and one party, if not both, is sure sooner or later to invoke foreign intervention. Nations thus tempted to interfere are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.
  • The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us, as already intimated, is the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably saw from the first that it was the Union which made as well our foreign as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produces the existing difficulty, and that one strong nation promises more durable peace and a more extensive, valuable, and reliable commerce than can the same nation broken into hostile fragments.
  • The war continues. In considering the policy to be adopted for suppressing the insurrection I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. I have therefore in every case thought it proper to keep the integrity of the Union prominent as the primary object of the contest on our pan, leaving all questions which are not of vital military importance to the more deliberate action of the Legislature. In the exercise of my best discretion I have adhered to the blockade of the ports held by the insurgents, instead of putting in force by proclamation the law of Congress enacted .at the late session for closing those ports. So also, obeying the dictates of prudence, as well as the obligations of law, instead of transcending I have adhered to the act of Congress to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes. If a new law upon the same subject shall be proposed, its propriety will be duly considered. The Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed. We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable.
  • It has been said that one bad general is better than two good ones, and the saying is true if taken to mean no more than that an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior ones at variance and cross-purposes with each other. And the same is true in all joint operations wherein those engaged can have none but a common end in view and can differ only as to the choice of means. In a storm at sea no one on board can wish the ship to sink, and yet not unfrequently all go down together because too many will direct and no single mind can be allowed to control.
  • It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government — the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers except the legislative boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people. In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.
  • Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation.
  • No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.
  • The struggle of today, is not altogether for today — it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.

Telegram to George B. McClellan (1862)

Online text

  • After you left, I ascertained that less than twenty thousand unorganized men, without a single field battery, were all you designed to be left for the defence of Washington, and Manassas Junction; and part of this even, was to go to Gen. Hooker’s old position. Gen. Banks’ corps, once designed for Manassas Junction, was diverted, and tied up on the line of Winchester and Strausburg, and could not leave it without again exposing the upper Potomac, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This presented, (or would present, when McDowell and Sumner should be gone) a great temptation to the enemy to turn back from the Rappahanock, and sack Washington. My explicit order that Washington should, by the judgment of all the commanders of Army corps, be left entirely secure, had been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to detain McDowell.
  • I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to leave Banks at Mannassas Junction; but when that arrangement was broken up, and nothing was substituted for it, of course I was not satisfied. I was constrained to substitute something for it myself. And now allow me to ask “Do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond, via Mannassas Junction, to this city to be entirely open, except what resistance could be presented by less than twenty thousand unorganized troops?” This is a question which the country will not allow me to evade.
  • And, once more let me tell you, it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless to help this. You will do me the justice to remember I always insisted, that going down the Bay in search of a field, instead of fighting at or near Mannassas, was only shifting, and not surmounting, a difficulty—that we would find the same enemy, and the same, or equal, intrenchments, at either place. The country will not fail to note—is now noting—that the present hesitation to move upon an intrenched enemy, is but the story of Manassas repeated.
  • I beg to assure you that I have never written you, or spoken to you, in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment, I consistently can. But you must act.

Letter to Horace Greeley (1862)

Letter to Horace Greeley (22 August 1862) The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, p. 388-389
With the Letter Lincoln replied to an Open Editorial in Greeley’s New York Tribune in which Greeley wrote “On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one… intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel… that the rebellion, if crushed tomorrow, would be renewed if slavery were left in full vigor… and that every hour of deference to slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union.” see Horace Greeley, “A Prayer for Twenty Millions,” New York Tribune, August 20, 1862 in “Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President” Edited by Harold Holzer (Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (January 20, 2006)), p. 160-161
  • I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.´´ If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.
  • My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.
  • I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
  • I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Reply to an Emancipation Memorial (1862)

Reply to an Emancipation Memorial presented by Chicago Christians of All Denominations (13 September 1862), published in The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln (1865) edited by Henry Jarvis Raymond and Francis Bicknell Carpenter, p. 255
  • The subject presented in the memorial is one upon which I have thought much for weeks past, and I may even say for months. I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and perhaps in some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it is I will do it! These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right.
    The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree.
  • What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, especially as we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope’s bull against the comet! Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? Is there a single court, or magistrate, or individual that would be influenced by it there! And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that that law has caused a single slave to come over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proclamation of freedom from me to throw themselves upon us, what should we do with them? How can we feed and care for such a multitude?
  • Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire? Understand, I raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds; for, as commander — in — chief of the army and navy, in time of war, I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy. Nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I view the matter as a practical war measure, to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.
  • I have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God’s will I will do. I trust that in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views I have not in any respect injured your feelings.

Second State of the Union address (1862)

Second State of the Union Address (1 December 1862)
  • A civil war occurring in a country, where foreigners reside and carry on trade under treaty stipulations is necessarily fruitful of complaints of the violation of neutral rights. All such collisions tend to excite misapprehensions, and possibly to produce mutual reclamations between nations which have a common interest in preserving peace and friendship.
  • A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain durability. “One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever.” It is of the first importance to duly consider and estimate this ever-enduring part.
  • That portion of the earth’s surface which is owned and inhabited by the people of the United States is well adapted to be the home of one national family, and it is not well adapted for two or more. Its vast extent and its variety of climate and productions are of advantage in this age for one people, whatever they might have been in former ages. Steam, telegraphs, and intelligence have brought these to be an advantageous combination for one united people.
  • Our national strife springs not from our permanent part; not from the land we inhabit: not from our national homestead. There is no possible severing of this but would multiply and not mitigate evils among us. In all its adaptations and aptitudes it demands union and abhors separation. In fact, it would ere long force reunion, however much of blood and treasure the separation might have cost. Our strife pertains to ourselves — to the passing generations of men — and it can without convulsion be hushed forever with the passing of one generation.
  • Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.
  • In a certain sense the liberation of slaves is the destruction of property — property acquired by descent or by purchase, the same as any other property.
  • Certainly it is not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing, but it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it is easier to pay any sum when we are able than it is to pay it before we are able.
  • In times like the present men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.
  • As to the second article, I think it would be impracticable to return to bondage the class of persons therein contemplated. Some of them, doubtless, in the property sense belong to loyal owners, and hence provision is made in this article for compensating such. The third article relates to the future of the freed people. It does not oblige, but merely authorizes Congress to aid in colonizing such as may consent. This ought not to be regarded as objectionable on the one hand or on the other, insomuch as it comes to nothing unless by the mutual consent of the people to be deported and the American voters, through their representatives in Congress. I can not make it better known than it already is that I strongly favor colonization; and yet I wish to say there is an objection urged against free colored persons remaining in the country which is largely imaginary, if not sometimes malicious.
  • Labor is like any other commodity in the market — increase the demand for it and you increase the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor by colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much you increase the demand for and wages of white labor.
  • I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation, nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me you will perceive no want of respect to yourselves in any undue earnestness I may seem to display. Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here — Congress and Executive can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means so certainly or so speedily assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not “Can any of us imagine better?” but “Can we all do better?” Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs, “Can we do better?”
  • The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
  • Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.
  • We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

The Emancipation Proclamation (1 January 1863) – Full text online
  • Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit: That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom. That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.
  • And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

Letter to James C. Conkling (1863)

President Lincoln wrote this letter from August 26, 1863 to his friend James Conkling, and it is read at a rally in Springfield, Illinois, supporting the Union. In this letter, the President vigorously defends his Emancipation ProclamationThe Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 6 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 407-410. • Full text online
  • There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I would say: You desire peace; and you blame me that we do not have it. But how can we attain it? There are but three conceivable ways. First, to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. This, I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is, to give up the Union. I am against this. Are you for it? If you are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for force, nor yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise. I do not believe any compromise, embracing the maintenance of the Union, is now possible. All I learn, leads to a directly opposite belief. The strength of the rebellion, is its military — its army. That army dominates all the country, and all the people, within its range. Any offer of terms made by any man or men within that range, in opposition to that army, is simply nothing for the present; because such man or men, have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if one were made with them.
  • A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people first liberated from the domination of that army, by the success of our own army. Now allow me to assure you, that no word or intimation, from that rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to the contrary, are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you, that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected, and kept a secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of service — the United States constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them.
  • But, to be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while I suppose you do not. Yet I have neither adopted, nor proposed any measure, which is not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation; to which you replied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way, as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means.
  • You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps, would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional — I think differently. I think the constitution invests its commander-in-chief, with the law of war, in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that slaves are property. Is there — has there ever been — any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever taking it, helps us, or hurts the enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies’ property when they can not use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves, or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes, and non-combatants, male and female.
  • But the proclamation, as law, either is valid, or is not valid. If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it can not be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction, than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt, returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us, since the issue of the proclamation as before. I know as fully as one can know the opinions of others, that some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important successes, believe the emancipation policy, and the use of colored troops, constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion; and that, at least one of those important successes, could not have been achieved when it was, but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism, or with republican party politics; but who hold them purely as military opinions. I submit these opinions as being entitled to some weight against the objections, often urged, that emancipation, and arming the blacks, are unwise as military measures, and were not adopted, as such, in good faith.
  • You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but, no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time, then, for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes.
  • I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive — even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept.
  • Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that, among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case, and pay the cost. And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it.
  • Still let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result.

Thanksgiving Proclamation (1863)

Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation of Thanksgiving (3 October 1863)
  • The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
  • In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
  • I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

The Gettysburg Address (1863)

The Gettysburg Address, honoring Union soldiers at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg (19 November 1863), based on the signed “Bliss Copy” – Full text online at Wikisource
  • Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (1863)

The History Place – Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (December 8, 1863
  • I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:
  • I, ……………, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified or held void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God.
  • The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army, or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons or white persons, in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service, as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.
  • And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known, that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of the votes cast in such State at the Presidential election of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken the oath aforesaid and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State government which shall be republican, and in no wise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that “The United States shall guaranty to every State in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the legislature, or the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence.”
  • And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such State government in relation to the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the national Executive. And it is suggested as not improper, that, in constructing a loyal State government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary, the subdivisions, the constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such others, if any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expedient by those framing the new State government.
  • To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it relates to State governments, has no reference to States wherein loyal State governments have all the while been maintained. And for the same reason, it may be proper to further say that whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats, constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the States wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal State governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal State governments may be re-established within said States, or in any of them; and, while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.

“If Slavery Is Not Wrong, Nothing Is Wrong” (1864)

Letter (4 April 1864) to Albert G. Hodges, editor of the Frankfort, Kentucky, Commonwealth (recounting their conversation of 26 March 1864). Abraham Lincoln Online.; Manuscript at The Library of Congress; also in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VII, p. 281
This letter is a summary of a conversation which President Abraham Lincoln had with three Kentuckians: Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, Albert Hodges, and Archibald Dixon. Hodges was the editor of the Frankfort Commonwealth and Dixon served in the U.S. Senate from 1852 to 1855. Bramlette had protested the recruiting of black regiments in Kentucky. The letter offers an excellent glimpse into Lincoln’s thinking about his constitutional responsibility and why he changed his inaugural position of non-interference with slavery to one of emancipation. He said, “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.” Lincoln closed with a reference to slavery that is reminiscent of his inaugural address of 1865: “If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.” • Abraham Lincoln Online – Section Speeches and writings: Letter to Albert G. Hodges
  • I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery. I did understand however, that my oath to preserve the constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that government — that nation — of which that constitution was the organic law.
  • Was it possible to lose the nation, and yet preserve the constitution? By general law life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had even tried to preserve the constitution, if, to save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and Constitution all together.
  • When, early in the war, Gen. Fremont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity. When a little later, Gen. Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, Gen. Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come. When, in March, and May, and July 1862 I made earnest, and successive appeals to the border states to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation, and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition; and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss; but of this, I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white military force, — no loss by it any how or any where. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. We have the men; and we could not have had them without the measure.
  • And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, test himself by writing down in one line that he is for subduing the rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking these hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be but for the measure he condemns. If he can not face his case so stated, it is only because he can not face the truth.
  • In telling this tale I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.

Speeches to Ohio Regiments (1864)

Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-fourth Ohio Regiment
Delivered at Washington, D.C., on August 18, 1864
  • Soldiers — You are about to return to your homes and your friends, after having, as I learn, performed in camp a comparatively short term of duty in this great contest. I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country.
  • I wish it might be more generally and universally understood what the country is now engaged in. We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. There is more involved in this contest than is realized by every one. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed.
  • I say this in order to impress upon you, if you are not already so impressed, that no small matter should divert us from our great purpose. There may be some irregularities in the practical application of our system. It is fair that each man shall pay taxes in exact proportion to the value of his property; but if we should wait before collecting a tax to adjust the taxes upon each man in exact proportion with every other man, we should never collect any tax at all. There may be mistakes made sometimes; things may be done wrong while the officers of the Government do all they can to prevent mistakes. But I beg of you, as citizens of this great Republic, not to let your minds to carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter.
  • When you return to your homes rise up to the height of a generation of men worthy of a free Government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced. I return to you my sincere thanks, soldiers, for the honor you have done me this afternoon.
Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment
Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment, Washington, D.C. (22 August 1864)
  • I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country.
  • I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has.
  • It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright — not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.
Speech to One Hundred Forty-eighth Ohio Regiment (1864)
Speech to One Hundred Forty-eighth Ohio Regiment, Washington, D.C. (31 August 1864); The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) by Roy P. Basler, vol. 7, p. 528-529
  • SOLDIERS OF THE 148TH OHIO: — I am most happy to meet you on this occasion. I understand that it has been your honorable privilege to stand, for a brief period, in the defense of your country, and that now you are on your way to your homes. I congratulate you, and those who are waiting to bid you welcome home from the war; and permit me, in the name of the people, to thank you for the part you have taken in this struggle for the life of the nation. You are soldiers of the Republic, everywhere honored and respected. Whenever I appear before a body of soldiers, I feel tempted to talk to them of the nature of the struggle in which we are engaged. I look upon it as an attempt on the one hand to overwhelm and destroy the national existence, while, on our part, we are striving to maintain the government and institutions of our fathers, to enjoy them ourselves, and transmit them to our children and our children’s children forever.
  • To do this the constitutional administration of our government must be sustained, and I beg of you not to allow your minds or your hearts to be diverted from the support of all necessary measures for that purpose, by any miserable picayune arguments addressed to your pockets, or inflammatory appeals made to your passions or your prejudices.
  • It is vain and foolish to arraign this man or that for the part he has taken, or has not taken, and to hold the government responsible for his acts. In no administration can there be perfect equality of action and uniform satisfaction rendered by all. But this government must be preserved in spite of the acts of any man or set of men. It is worthy your every effort. Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are held out the highest privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House, yet there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father’s.
  • Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern purpose of defending your beloved country and its free institutions by any arguments urged by ambitious and designing men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag. Soldiers, I bid you God-speed to your homes.

Interview with Alexander W. Randall and Joseph T. Mills (1864)

Interview with Alexander W. Randall and Joseph T. Mills (19 August 1864)
  • There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee to their masters to conciliate the South. I should be damned in time and in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will.
  • My enemies say I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. It is and will be carried on so long as I am President for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without using the Emancipation lever as I have done.
  • Freedom has given us the control of 200,000 able bodied men, born and raised on southern soil. It will give us more yet. Just so much it has subtracted from the strength of our enemies, and instead of alienating the south from us, there are evidences of a fraternal feeling growing up between our own and rebel soldiers. My enemies condemn my emancipation policy. Let them prove by the history of this war, that we can restore the Union without it.

On Democratic Government (1864)

Address to a congratulatory serenade on his reelection (10 November 1864) which occurred two days after the United States presidential election of 1864; in “The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Seven, Constitutional Edition”, edited by Arthur Brooks Lapsley and released as “The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Seven, by Abraham Lincoln” by Project Gutenberg on July 5, 2009.
  • It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies. On this point the present rebellion brought our government to a severe test, and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion, added not a little to the strain.
  • If the loyal people united were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided and partially paralyzed by a political war among themselves? But the election was a necessity. We cannot have free government without elections; and if the election could force us to forego or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we will have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.
  • But the election, along with its incidental and undesirable strife, has done good, too. It has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election in the midst of a great civil war. Until now, it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows, also, how sound and strong we still are. It shows that even among the candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union and most opposed to treason can receive most of the people’s votes. It shows, also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, and patriotic men are better than gold.
  • But the rebellion continues, and, now that the election is over, may not all have a common interest to reunite in a common effort to save our common country? For my own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here, I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom. While I am duly sensible to the high compliment of a re-election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God, for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed by the result.
  • May I ask those who have not differed with me to join with me in this same spirit towards those who have? And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen, and their gallant and skillful commanders.

Second Inaugural Address (1865)

Second Inaugural Address (4 March 1865)
  • Fellow countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
  • On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
  • One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
  • Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.
    • Lincoln was alluding to Jesus’ words in in Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (KJV)
  • The Almighty has his own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
  • With malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Tour of Richmond (1865)

  • Don’t kneel to me, that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God’s humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs; and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this republic.
    • After witnessing a man bow down to him. In Richmond, Virginia (April 4, 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 295
  • My poor friends, you are free, free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as He gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years. But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good works. Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them; obey God’s commandments and thank Him for giving you liberty, for to Him you owe all things. There, now, let me pass on; I have but little time to spare. I want to see the capital, and must return at once to Washington to secure to you that liberty which you seem to prize so highly.
    • To a group of freed slaves. In Richmond, Virginia (April 4, 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 297
  • In reference to you, colored people, let me say God has made you free. Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called masters, you are now as free as I am, and if those that claim to be your superiors do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are; for God created all men free, giving to each the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    • In Richmond, Virginia (April 4, 1865), as quoted in Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln (1996), by Don Edward Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher, editor, p. 257
  • No, leave it as a monument.
    • In response to talk of demolishing Libby Prison. In Richmond, Virginia (April 4, 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 299
  • They will never shoulder a musket again in anger, and if Grant is wise, he will leave them their guns to shoot crows with and their horses to plow with. It would do no harm.
    • Regarding the treatment of former Confederate soldiers. In Richmond, Virginia (April 4, 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 312

Last public address (1865)

Last public address at the White House (11 April 1865)
  • We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing, be overlooked. Their honors must not be parcelled out with others. I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you; but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine. To General Grant, his skilful officers, and brave men, all belongs. The gallant Navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take active part.
  • By these recent successes the re-inauguration of the national authority — reconstruction — which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike a case of a war between independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with. No one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with, and mould from, disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and means of reconstruction.
  • As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I can not properly offer an answer. In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am much censured for some supposed agency in setting up, and seeking to sustain, the new State government of Louisiana. In this I have done just so much as, and no more than, the public knows. In the Annual Message of Dec. 1863 and accompanying Proclamation, I presented a plan of re-construction (as the phrase goes) which, I promised, if adopted by any State, should be acceptable to, and sustained by, the Executive government of the nation. I distinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable; and I also distinctly protested that the Executive claimed no right to say when, or whether members should be admitted to seats in Congress from such States. This plan was, in advance, submitted to the then Cabinet, and distinctly approved by every member of it. One of them suggested that I should then, and in that connection, apply the Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship for freed-people, and that I should omit the protest against my own power, in regard to the admission of members to Congress; but even he approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of Louisiana. The new constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole State, practically applies the Proclamation to the part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed-people; and it is silent, as it could not well be otherwise, about the admission of members to Congress. So that, as it applies to Louisiana, every member of the Cabinet fully approved the plan. The message went to Congress, and I received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal; and not a single objection to it, from any professed emancipationist, came to my knowledge, until after the news reached Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move in accordance with it. From about July 1862, I had corresponded with different persons, supposed to be interested, seeking a reconstruction of a State government for Louisiana. When the message of 1863, with the plan before mentioned, reached New-Orleans, General Banks wrote me that he was confident the people, with his military co-operation, would reconstruct, substantially on that plan. I wrote him, and some of them to try it; they tried it, and the result is known. Such only has been my agency in getting up the Louisiana government. As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as before stated. But, as bad promises are better broken than kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise, and break it, whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse to the public interest. But I have not yet been so convinced.
  • I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be definitely fixed on the question whether the seceding States, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would perhaps, add astonishment to his regret, were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men endeavoring to make that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression upon it. As appears to me that question has not been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad, as the basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all — a merely pernicious abstraction.
  • We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper relation with the Union; and that the sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it is not only possible, but in fact, easier to do this, without deciding, or even considering, whether these States have ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between these States and the Union; and each forever after, innocently indulge his own opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the States from without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they never having been out of it.
  • The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is, “Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?” “Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State government?”
  • Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to the Union, and to perpetual freedom in the state — committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the nation wants — and they ask the nations recognition and it’s assistance to make good their committal. Now, if we reject, and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We in effect say to the white men “You are worthless, or worse — we will neither help you, nor be helped by you.” To the blacks we say “This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how.” If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have, so far, been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize, and sustain the new government of Louisiana the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts, and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it? Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national Constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned; while a ratification by three-fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.
  • I repeat the question, ‘Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State Government?’
  • What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to other States. And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each state, and such important and sudden changes occur in the same state; and withal, so new and unprecedented is the whole case, that no exclusive, and inflexible plan can be safely prescribed as to details and colatterals. Such exclusive, and inflexible plan, would surely become a new entanglement. Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.
  • In the present “situation” as the phrase goes, it may be my duty to make some new announcement to the people of the South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act, when satisfied that action will be proper.

Posthumous attributions

Soon after his death, Lincoln became popular as a “wise man” to whom quotations were often attributed, and attributions without specific contemporary sources should be viewed skeptically. These attributions are arranged chronologically.
  • Dear Sir: Yours of the tenth received. I am well acquainted with Mr. __, and know his characteristics. First of all, he has a wife and baby; together they ought to be worth $50,000 to any man. Then he has an office, in which there will be a table worth $1.50, and three chairs worth, say, $1. Last of all, there is in one corner a rat-hole which will bear looking into.
    • Attributed at an unspecified date when Lincoln was a young lawyer, apparently first reported in the Prairie Farmer (March 13, 1886), Volume 58, p. 176. The quote, taken as a whole, has been explained to mean that Lincoln was giving a negative character reference, implying that the subject of that reference was not financially stable, and prone to let details slip.
  • We, on our side, are praying Him to give us victory, because we believe we are right; but those on the other side pray to Him, look for victory, believing they are right. What must He think of us?
  • I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.
    • Noah Brooks, scribe for the Sacramento Union, writing in the Harper’s Weekly for July 1865, 3 months after Lincoln had died, reported that the Lincoln once said this, at an unspecified date; as reported in”Did Abraham Lincoln Actually Say That Obama Quote?” by James M. Cornelius, The Daily Beast (9 August 2012)
  • The Lord prefers common-looking people. That is why he made so many of them.
    • Conversation with private secretary John Hay (23 December 1863), describing a dream Lincoln had that evening, in Abraham Lincoln : A History (1890) by John Hay
  • I cannot bring myself to believe that any human being lives who would do me any harm.
    • Remark to Gen. Edward H. Ripley (5 April 1865), recalled during Ripley’s speech at the 41st annual meeting of the Reunion Society of Vermont Officers (1 November 1904)
  • The measures provided at your last session for the removal of certain Indian tribes have been carried into effect. Sundry treaties have been negotiated, which will in due time be submitted for the constitutional action of the Senate. They contain stipulations for extinguishing the possessory rights of the Indians to large and valuable tracts of lands. It is hoped that the effect of these treaties will result in the establishment of permanent friendly relations with such of these tribes as have been brought into frequent and bloody collision with our outlying settlements and emigrants. Sound policy and our imperative duty to these wards of the Government demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being, to their progress in the arts of civilization, and, above all, to that moral training which under the blessing of Divine Providence will confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, the hopes and consolations, of the Christian faith. I suggested in my last annual message the propriety of remodeling our Indian system. Subsequent events have satisfied me of its necessity. The details set forth in the report of the Secretary evince the urgent need for immediate legislative action.
  • All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
    • Attributed in The Life of Abraham Lincoln (1866) by Josiah G. Holland, p. 23; also in The Real Life of Abraham Lincoln (1867) by George Alfred Townsend, p. 6; according to Townsend, Lincoln made this remark to his law partner, William Herndon. It is disputed whether this quote refers to Lincoln’s natural mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died when he was nine years old, or to his stepmother, Sarah Bush (Johnston) Lincoln.
  • I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me — and I think He has — I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but truth is everything. I know I am right because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I have told them that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and Christ and reason say the same; and they will find it so. Douglas doesn’t care whether slavery is voted up or voted down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with God’s help I shall not fail. I may not see the end; but it will come and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find that they have not read their Bibles aright.
    • Anecdote recorded as something that Lincoln said in a conversation with educator Newman Bateman in the Autumn of 1860, in Life of Abraham Lincoln (1866) by Josiah Gilbert Holland, Chapter XVI, p. 287
  • If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
    • As quoted in The Life and Public Service of Abraham Lincoln (1865) by Henry J. Raymond
  • Well, I cannot run the political machine; I have enough on my hands without that. It is the people’s business, – the election is in their hands. If they turn their backs to the fire, and get scorched in the rear, they’ll find they have got to ’sit ’ on the ’blister’!
    • Attributed by Francis Bicknell Carpenter, reporting what a “friend, the private secretary of a cabinet minister”, told him about a conversation with Lincoln, whom the friend had met alone in the White House in August 1864. Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln. The Story of a Picture. New York 1866, p. 275
  • It’s my experience that folks who have no vices have generally very few virtues.
    • According to The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln (1867) by F. B. Carpenter, Lincoln quoted this as having been said to him by a fellow-passenger in a stagecoach. See also “Washington during the War”, Macmillan’s Magazine 6:24 (May 1862)
  • What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.
    • As quoted in The World’s Sages, Thinkers and Reformers (1876) by D. M. Bennett
  • Perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
  • I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
    • Attributed in Lincoln Memorial (1882) edited by Osborn Oldroyd
  • All through life, be sure and put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm.
    • As recalled by Rebecca R. Pomroy in Echoes from hospital and White House (1884), by Anna L. Boyden, p. 61
  • Well, for people that like that sort of thing, I think it is just about the sort of thing they would like.
    • Attributed to “an American President” in Ármin Vámbéry (1884), All the Year Round. It more likely originates in a spoof testimonial that Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) wrote in an advertisement in 1863:

I have never heard any of your lectures, but from what I can learn I should say that for people who like the kind of lectures you deliver, they are just the kind of lectures such people like.

Yours respectfully,
O. Abe

  • Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.
    • As quoted in Excellent Quotations for Home and School (1888) by Julia B. Hoitt, p. 97; no attribution of this phrase to any existing Lincoln document could be located.
  • When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion.
    • Quoted in 3:439 Herndon’s Lincoln (1890), p. 439Inasmuch as he was so often a candidate for public office Mr. Lincoln said as little about his religious code as possible, especially if he failed to coincide with the orthodox world. In illustration of his religious code I once heard him say that it was like that of an old man named Glenn, in Indiana, whom he heard speak at a church meeting, and who said: “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion.”
  • I want it said of me by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.
  • I do not consider that I have ever accomplished anything without God; and if it is His will that I must die by the hand of an assassin, I must be resigned. I must do my duty as I see it, and leave the rest with God.
    • As quoted in Life on the Circuit with Lincoln (1892) by Henry Clay Witney
  • I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
    • As quoted in The Early Life of Abraham Lincoln (1896) by Ida Tarbell
  • So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!
    • Comment on meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, according to Charles Edward Stowe, Lyman Beecher Stowe, “How Mrs. Stowe wrote ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin'”, McClure’s magazine 36:621 (April 1911), with a footnote stating: “Mr. Charles Edward Stowe, one of the authors of this article, accompanied his mother on this visit to Lincoln, and remembers the occasion distinctly.”
    • Variant: Her daughter was told that when the President heard her name he seized her hand, saying, “Is this the little woman who made the great war?”
      • Annie Fields, “Days with Mrs. Stowe”, Atlantic Monthly 7:148 (August 1896)
    • Variant: So you are the little woman who caused this great war!
  • I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.
    • Recollection by Gilbert J. Greene, quoted in The Speaking Oak (1902) by Ferdinand C. Iglehart and Latest Light on Abraham Lincoln (1917) by Ervin S. Chapman
  • I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right — stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.
    • Reported as an inscription quoting Lincoln in an English college in The Baptist Teacher for Sunday-school Workers : Vol. 36 (August 1905), p. 483. The portion beginning with “stand with anybody…” is from the 16 October 1854 Peoria speech..
  • As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.
    • Written speech fragment presented by to the Chicago Veterans Druggist’s Association in 1906 by Judge James B. Bradwell, who claimed to have received it from Mary Todd Lincoln. Collected Works, 2:532
  • He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
    • Attributed in Lincoln the Lawyer (1906) by Frederick Trevor Hill — Hill noted that he could find no record of whom Lincoln was insulting.
  • I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
    • Included in Portrait-Life of Lincoln (1910) by Francis T Miller
  • Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.
    • Often misquoted as: “I have found that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” or “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
    • As quoted in How to Get What You Want (1917) by Orison Marden (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1917), 74
  • I never tire of reading Tom Paine.
    • As quoted in A Literary History of the American People‎ (1931) by Charles Angoff, p. 270
  • I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.
    • As quoted in “Wisdom of a forefather” (11 February 2009), Colorado State University.

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