Quotations about   civil war

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If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) American military leader, US President (1869-77)
Speech, Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines (29 Sep 1876)
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Advocating free, non-sectarian, public education.
Added on 17-May-21 | Last updated 17-May-21
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Gentlemen, ideas outlive men; ideas outlive all earthly things. You who fought in the war for the Union fought for immortal ideas, and by their might you crowned the war with victory. But victory was worth nothing except for the truths that were under it, in it, and above it.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Speech to the “Boys in Blue,” Madison Square Park, New York City (6 Aug 1880)
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Added on 4-Dec-20 | Last updated 4-Dec-20
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Cursed is the man, and void of law and right,
Unworthy property, unworthy light,
Unfit for public rule, or private care,
That wretch, that monster, that delights in war:
Whose lust is murder, and whose horrid joy
To tear his country, and his kind destroy!

[Ἀφρήτωρ ἀθέμιστος ἀνέστιός ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος
ὃς πολέμου ἔραται ἐπιδημίου ὀκρυόεντος.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 9, ll. 63-64 [Nestor] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20)]
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Alt. trans.:

A hater of society, unjust, and wild, is he
That loves intestine war, being stuff’d with manless cruelty.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 63-64]

He is a wretch, insensible and dead
To all the charities of social life,
Whose pleasure is in civil broils alone.
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 75-77]

Tribeless, lawless, homeless is he, who loves horrid civil war.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Religious, social, and domestic ties
Alike he violates, who willingly
Would court the horrors of internal strife.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 72-74]

He that foments civil discord is a clanless, hearthless outlaw
[tr. Butler (1898)]

A clanless, lawless, hearthless man is he that loveth dread strife among his own folk.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Lost to the clan,
lost to the hearth, lost to the old ways, that one
who lusts for all the horrors of war with his own people.
[Fagles (1990), ll. 73-75]
Added on 28-Oct-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
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[A man who] counts the pain of the state as his own glory; as if, indeed, your consulate were not the reason for that conspiracy and through which the republic was torn apart when it possessed you as its protector.”

[… qui civitatis incommodum in gloriam suam ponit. Quasi vero non illius coniurationis causa fuerit consulatus tuus et idcirco res publica disiecta eo tempore quo te custodem habebat.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Invectiva in Ciceronem [Invective Against Cicero], sec. 3 [tr. @setentiq (2020)] (Spurious)
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In reference to the Catiline conspiracy. Most scholars believe this was not Sallust's work, but that of a 1st Century rhetorician, likely the one who penned the provoking Invective against Sallust, ostensibly by Cicero.

Alt. trans.:
  • "[He] who caused the state injury to augment his own glory. As though your consulship were not the cause of that conspiracy! That is the reason the state was torn apart at that time with you as its guardian." [tr. Novokhatko (2009)]
  • "[A] man who makes disaster to his country the means of his own glorification, was sent as a protector to this city and its citizens, and not as its executioner. As if, forsooth, your consulship was not the cause of that conspiracy, and as if the reason why the commonwealth was not rent asunder at that time was because it had you for a protector." [tr. Loeb ed. (1921), sec. 2]
Added on 14-Oct-20 | Last updated 14-Oct-20
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In the great crisis of the war, God brought us face to face with the mighty truth, that we must lose our own freedom or grant it to the slave. In the extremity of our distress, we called upon the black man to help us save the Republic; and, amid the very thunders of battle, we made a covenant with him, sealed both with his blood and with ours, and witnessed by Jehovah, that, when the nation was redeemed, he should be free, and share with us its glories and its blessings. The Omniscient Witness will appear in judgment against us if we do not fulfill that covenant.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“Suffrage and Safety,” speech, Ravenna, Ohio (4 Jul 1865)
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Added on 28-Aug-20 | Last updated 28-Aug-20
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Modern politics cannot be a matter of genuine moral consensus. And it is not. Modern politics is civil war carried on by other means.

Alasdair MacIntyre (b. 1929) Scottish philosopher
After Virtue: A Study of Moral Theory, ch. 17 (1981)
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Added on 23-Jun-20 | Last updated 23-Jun-20
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The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue. Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom. That the fall of slavery is predetermined in the counsels of Omnipotence I cannot doubt; it is a part of the great moral improvement in the condition of man, attested by all the records of history. But the conflict will be terrible, and the progress of improvement perhaps retrograde before its final progress to consummation.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Journal (11 Dec 1838)
Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 31-Oct-16
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We know the redemption must come. The time and the manner of its coming we know not: It may come in peace, or it may come in blood; but whether in peace or in blood, LET IT COME.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Speech to “The colored people of Pittsburge, Pennsylvania” (1843)

Representative Dellet of Alabama quoted the speech before the House of Representatives, then asked Adams, "though it cost the blood of thousands of white men?" Adams responded, "Though it cost the blood of millions of white men, let it come. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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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)
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Added on 21-Aug-15 | Last updated 21-Aug-15
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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)
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Added on 4-May-15 | Last updated 4-May-15
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