Quotations by Lincoln, Abraham


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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“Fragments on Government,” 1854?, Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858 (1989)
Added on 13-Mar-14 | Last updated 13-Mar-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

If all men were just, there would still be some, though not so much, need of government.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“Fragments on Government” (1854?)

In Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858, Library of America ed. (1989)
Added on 15-Dec-10 | Last updated 15-Dec-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 vanish from this earth.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“Gettysburg Address,” closing words (19 Nov 1863)
Added on 25-May-09 | Last updated 22-May-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“Meditation on the Divine Will,” Speech Fragment (Sep 1862)
Added on 15-May-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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, and expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opertunity [sic] of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“Notes on the Practice of Law” (1850?)
Added on 15-Oct-15 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“On Slavery and Democracy” (fragment) (1858?)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions,” Address to Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield (27 Jan 1838)
Added on 14-Sep-11 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“The Sub-Treasury,” speech, Illinois House of Representatives (26 Dec 1839)
Added on 27-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“The Sub-Treasury,” Speech, Illinois House of Representatives, Springfield (26 Dec 1839)
Added on 17-Mar-15 | Last updated 17-Mar-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Holding it a sound maxim that it is better to be only sometimes right than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous I shall be ready to renounce them.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“To the People of Sangamo County,” campaign statement, Illinois State Legislature Race (9 Mar 1862)
Added on 30-Apr-09 | Last updated 30-Apr-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“To the People of Sangamo County,” speech running for Illinois state legislature (9 Mar 1832)
Added on 8-Dec-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-12
Link to this post | 3 comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed (1861))

When asked by a friend how he liked being President.
Added on 7-Jun-12 | Last updated 7-Jun-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

When I am getting ready to persuade a man, I spend one third of the time thinking about myself what I’m going to say and two thirds of the time thinking about him and what he is going to say.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | 1 comment
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 is 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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

In Francis Carpenter, Six Months at the White House, ch. 68 (1866)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Mar-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

You cannot escape the responsibility tomorrow by evading it today.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Quoted in F B Carpenter, The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln (1867); Lincoln repeated this as told to him by a fellow-passenger in a stagecoach.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Quoted in Frederick Trevor Hill, Lincoln the Lawyer, ch. 19 (1906). Hill adds, "History has considerately sheltered the identity of the victim."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Recalled by Lincoln from an Indiana church meeting talk  by "an old man named Glenn" in the 1810s.

 

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Sep-10
Link to this post | 2 comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I care not for a man’s religion whose dog or cat are not the better for it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Frequently attributed to Lincoln without citation, it's actually a variant of "I would give nothing for that man's religion, whose very dog and cat are not the better for it," by Rowland Hill (1744-1833), an English preacher, attributed in George Seaton Bowes, Illustrative Gatherings, or, Preachers and Teachers (1860). Lincoln may have used the line.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

All through life be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Quoted in William M Thayer, The Pioneer Boy (1882).
Added on 23-Jul-07 | Last updated 23-Jul-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

No early authority has been found citing this from Lincoln. However, in The Sociable Story-teller (1846), Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor 1410-1437, was quoted : "Do I not most effectually destroy my enemies, in making them my friends?"
Added on 27-Aug-07 | Last updated 27-Aug-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

A possible precursor to this quote is the widely-republished Jacques Abbadie, "Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne," ch. 2 (1684): "One can fool some men, or fool all men in some places and times, but one cannot fool all men in all places and ages. [… ont pû tromper quelques hommes, ou les tromper tous dans certains lieux & en certains tems, mais non pas tous les hommes, dans tous les lieux & dans tous les siécles.]"  A similar passage was used in Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, ed., Encyclopédie: ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers, Vol. 4 (1754).

First attributed to Lincoln by Fred F. Wheeler, interviewed in the Albany Times (8 Mar 1886): "You can fool part of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time."

First cited in detail in Alexander K. McClure, “Abe” Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, (1904), in the above form; it was cited as a speech in Clinton, Ill. (2 Sep 1858), but the passage is not found in any surviving Lincoln documents. No Lincoln reference is found in contemporary writings.

Also attributed to P.T. Barnum and Bob Dylan. See also Lawrence J. Peter.

More detailed discussion of the quotation can be found here.

Added on 13-Sep-07 | Last updated 20-Aug-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

The Lord prefers common-looking people. That’s why he makes so many of them.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Quoted in J. Morgan, Our President, ch. 6.

Added on 21-Jul-08 | Last updated 15-Jun-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Perhaps a man’s character is like a tree and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

In Noah Brooks, "Lincoln's Imagination," Scribner’s Monthly, Vol. 18 (May-Oct 1879)
Added on 7-Dec-12 | Last updated 7-Dec-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Honest statesmanship is the wise employment of individual meannesses for the public good.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Attributed in John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History, vol. 10, ch. 18 "Lincoln's Fame" (1886).
Added on 23-Jul-14 | Last updated 23-Jul-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

You must remember that some things that are legally right are not morally right.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

Remark to potential client (1840s?), refusing his case involving a $600 claim against a widow with six children. In F. Brown, The Every-Day Life of Abraham Lincoln, 2.6 (1887).
Added on 24-Sep-15 | Last updated 24-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

When asked how he liked being president (c. 1861). Quoted in Emanuel Hertz, Lincoln Talks: A Biography in Anecdote (1939).
Added on 19-Sep-16 | Last updated 19-Sep-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

The sharpness of a refusal or the edge of a rebuke may be blunted by an appropriate story so as to save wounded feelings and yet serve the purpose.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

In Anthony Gross, ed. Lincoln's Own Stories, ch. 6 (1912).
Added on 26-Dec-16 | Last updated 26-Dec-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

In Noah Brooks "Lincoln's Imagination," _Scribner's Monthly (Aug 1879).
Added on 16-May-17 | Last updated 16-May-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Recounted in the Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol. 46, #7 (Jan 1898) as an anecdote from a clergyman printed in the New York Tribune.
Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 25-May-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed) (1861)

Quoted in G.W.E. Russell, Collections and Recollections, ch. 30 (1898), regarding “an unreadably sentimental book.”

According to Anthony Gross, Lincoln’s Own Stories (1902), Lincoln’s was speaking to Robert Dale Owen, who had insisted on reading to Lincoln a long manuscript on spiritualism. "Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just about the sort of thing they would like."

In Emanual Hertz, ed., "Father Abraham," Lincoln Talks: A Biography in Anecdote (1939), the response was to a young poet asking him about his newly published poems.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Jan-10
Link to this post | 1 comment
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I am not at all concerned about that, for 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 Lord’s side.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed) (1862)

Reply to a clergyman who said he hoped the Lord was on our side.  In  Francis B. Carpenter, Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln, p. 282 (1867).  In some places cited as 1864.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Aug-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Oh, if there is a man out of hell that suffers more than I do, I pity him.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed) (1862)

In Emmanuel Hertz, ed., Lincoln Talks: A Biography in Anecdote, "Father Abraham" (1939); a remark following the Army of the Potomac's defeat at Fredericksburg.
Added on 2-Dec-14 | Last updated 2-Dec-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Spurious)

Not found any earlier than in casual attribution in 1914. More info here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-Oct-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Spurious)

Frequently quoted, but does not appear in the record of Lincoln's writings or in any first person account.
Added on 26-Jul-07 | Last updated 26-Jul-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

There is no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war — except its ending.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Spurious)

Sometimes actually attributed to Lincoln, it is actually a line written for a simulation of Lincoln by Arthur Heinemann for the TV episode Star Trek, 3x22 "Savage Curtain" (1969).
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics:
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Address, Cooper Institute, New York, closing words (27 Feb 1860)
Added on 1-Mar-10 | Last updated 1-Mar-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 depth of affliction!

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Address, Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee (30 Sep 1859)
Added on 28-Dec-07 | Last updated 28-Dec-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Annual Message to Congress (1 Dec 1862)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | 1 comment
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Annual Message to Congress (1 Dec 1862)
Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 22-Mar-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

It is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
First Annual Message to Congress (3 Dec 1861)
Added on 29-Dec-10 | Last updated 29-Dec-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
First Inaugural Address (1861)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
First Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1861)

Full text
Added on 8-Oct-07 | Last updated 8-Oct-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I am loathe 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
First Inaugural Address, final paragraph (4 Mar 1861)

A substantially revised version of the original text written by William Seward.
Added on 19-May-09 | Last updated 19-May-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 non-performance 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 of government.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Fragment (1 Jul 1854?)
    (Source)

In Roy P. Basler (ed.), Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Vol. 2 (1953). The date, by Nicolay and Hay, is deemed arbitrary.
Added on 6-Oct-15 | Last updated 6-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Inaugural Address, conclusion (4 Mar 1865)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jan-14
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter (1855)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Albert G. Hodges (4 Apr 1864)
Added on 20-Mar-14 | Last updated 20-Mar-14
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Albert G. Hodges (4 Apr. 1864)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Edwin M. Stanton (14 Jul 1864)
Added on 10-Sep-14 | Last updated 10-Sep-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Gen. John M. Schofield (27 May 1863)
Added on 8-Jan-10 | Last updated 8-Jan-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I have heard, in such a 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 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Gen. Joseph Hooker (26 Jan 1863)
Added on 2-Mar-09 | Last updated 2-Mar-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Henry L. Pierce, et al. (6 Apr 1859)
Added on 24-Sep-07 | Last updated 20-Mar-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Isham Reavis (5 Nov 1855)
Added on 13-May-13 | Last updated 13-May-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Isham Reavis (5 Nov. 1855)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to J.M. Cutts (26 Oct 1863)
Added on 24-Jul-13 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to James C. Conkling (26 Aug 1863)
    (Source)
Added on 24-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jul-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to James C. Conkling (26 Aug 1863)
    (Source)
Added on 21-Aug-15 | Last updated 21-Aug-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to James H. Hacket (2 Nov 1863)
Added on 22-Jul-13 | Last updated 15-Jul-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to John J. Crittenden (22 Dec 1859)
Added on 17-Sep-15 | Last updated 17-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Mrs. Orville H. Browning (1 Apr 1838)
Added on 20-Jan-11 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to Reverdy Johnson (26 Jul 1862)
Added on 6-May-13 | Last updated 6-May-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you shall 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. If today 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.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to William Herndon (15 Feb 1848)

Full text.
Added on 6-Aug-08 | Last updated 6-Aug-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Alton, Illinois (15 Oct 1858)

On the Declaration of Independence.
Added on 19-Nov-14 | Last updated 19-Nov-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

It really hurts me very much to suppose that I have wronged anybody on earth.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Quincy, Illinois (13 Oct 1858)
Added on 4-Jan-16 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Message to Congress (4 Jul 1861)
Added on 8-Dec-10 | Last updated 8-Dec-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

It was a time when a man with a policy would have been fatal to the country. I have never had a policy; I have simply tried to do what seemed best each day as each day came.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Remark to John M. Palmer

In Emanuel Hertz, ed., Lincoln Talks: A Biography in Anecdote, "Father Abraham" (1939)
Added on 27-Jan-12 | Last updated 27-Jan-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Remark to Joshua Speed (Feb. 1865)

In Melancthon Woolsey Stryker's Hamilton, Lincoln & Other Addresses (1896). Also in John Y. Simon, Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant (1975), pp. 141-142.
Added on 29-Aug-07 | Last updated 29-Aug-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

How hard, oh, how hard it is to die and leave one’s country no better than if one had never lived for it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Remark to William H. Herndon, quoted in letter from Herndon to Ward H. Herdon (6 Mar 1866)

In Emanuel Hertz (ed.), The Hidden Lincoln: From the Letters and Papers of William H. Herndon, 1.2 (1940)
Added on 6-May-09 | Last updated 6-May-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Remarks in the House of Representatives (20 Jun 1848)

Cited
Added on 5-Sep-07 | Last updated 5-Sep-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Often an idea would occur to me which seemed to have force. … I never let one of those ideas escape me, but wrote it on a scrap of paper and put it in that drawer. In that way I saved my best thoughts on the subject, and, you know, such things often come in a kind of intuitive way more clearly than if one were to sit down and deliberately reason them out. To save the results of such mental action is true intellectual economy.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Remarks to James F. Wilson (Jun 1862)

In G. Iles, ed., Autobiography, Greatest Americans (1924)
Added on 1-Jun-09 | Last updated 1-Jun-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 the 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Reply to Emancipation Memorial Presented by Chicago Christians of All Denominations (13 Sep 1862)

Full text. Notes.
Added on 6-May-08 | Last updated 6-May-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Reply to New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association (21 Mar 1864)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

I desire 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Reply to the Missouri Committee of Seventy (30 Sep 1864)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Feb-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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. […] 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech at Peoria, Illinois (1854)

In response to Stephen Douglas. Full text.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

To give the victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech fragment (c. 18 May 1858)
Added on 22-Apr-08 | Last updated 6-Apr-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand will him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Peoria, Illinois (16 Oct 1854)
Added on 10-Jul-13 | Last updated 10-Jul-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

We know nothing of what will happen in future, but by the analogy of experience.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech on the Sub-Treasury (26 Dec 1839)
Added on 24-Apr-15 | Last updated 24-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech to 140th Indiana regiment (17 Mar 1865)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Chicago (10 Jul 1858)
    (Source)
Added on 9-Aug-13 | Last updated 9-Aug-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Cooper Union, New York City (27 Feb 1860)
    (Source)

On preventing the spread of slavery to new states and territories. Sometimes paraphrased, "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution."
Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Edwardsville, Illinois (11 Sep 1858)
Added on 7-Dec-07 | Last updated 7-Dec-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the motherland; but something in the 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Independence Hall, Philadelphia (22 Feb 1861)
Added on 1-Apr-14 | Last updated 1-Apr-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Nearly 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 cannot stand together. They are as opposite as God and Mammon; and whoever holds to the one must despise the other.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Peoria (16 Oct 1854)
Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 5-Nov-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot 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 — criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Peoria, Illinois (16 Oct 1854)
Added on 29-Mar-17 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Union Meeting, Washington (6 Aug 1862)
Added on 16-Oct-14 | Last updated 16-Oct-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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 shall 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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washington, DC (10 Nov 1964)
    (Source)
Added on 4-May-15 | Last updated 4-May-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washington, DC (11 Apr 1865).

His last public address.
Added on 5-Jun-12 | Last updated 5-Jun-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washington, DC (1865)

Most commonly attributed to a speech in Washington (1865), but also recalled by Joseph Gillespie (author, long-time friend) regarding pardons for some deserters in the summer of 1864 (The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles, ed. O. Oldroyd, 1882)
Added on 30-Jul-07 | Last updated 30-Jul-07
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham

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.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
State of the Union address (3 Dec 1861)
    (Source)
Added on 28-Oct-11 | Last updated 3-Sep-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Lincoln, Abraham