Quoting 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.

Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio, September 17, 1859
 
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. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed.

 
Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

January 27, 1838 Lyceum Address
 
There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.
January 27, 1838 Lyceum Address
 
Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it.

July 10, 1858 Speech at Chicago
 
I have borne a laborious, and, in some respects to myself, a painful part in the contest. Through all, I have neither assailed, nor wrestled with any part of the constitution.

October 30, 1858 Speech at Springfield
 
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.

August 27, 1856 Speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan
 
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.


February 21, 1861 Speech to the New Jersey Senate

 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 disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

December 1, 1862 Message to Congress
 
The proportions of this rebellion were not for a long time understood. I saw that it involved the greatest difficulties, and would call forth all the powers of the whole country.

June 2, 1863 Reply to Members of the Presbyterian General Assembly
 
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.

July 1, 1854 [?] Fragment on Government
 
Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much.

December 10, 1856 Speech at Chicago
 
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.

August 1, 1858 Fragment on Democracy
 
I think we have fairly entered upon a durable struggle as to whether this nation is to ultimately become all slave or all free, and though I fall early in the contest, it is nothing if I shall have contributed, in the least degree, to the final rightful result.

December 8, 1858 Letter to H.D. Sharpe
 
Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.

May 17, 1859 Letter to Theodore Canisius
 
...I do not mean to say that this 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.

September 17, 1859 Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio
 
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.

July 4, 1861 Message to Congress
 
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.

October 4, 1862 Speech at Frederick, Maryland
 
The restoration of the Rebel States to the Union must rest upon the principle of civil and political equality of both races; and it must be sealed by general amnesty.

January 1864, Letter to James S. Wadsworth
 
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.

March 18, 1864 Letter to Edwin M. Stanton
 
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.
 
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.

August 31, 1864 Speech to 148th Ohio Regiment
 
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

November 5, 1855 Letter to Isham Reavis

 

 

 

 

 

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.

June 28, 1862 Letter to Quintin Campbell
 
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.

 
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.
 
What I did, I did after very full deliberation, and under a heavy and solemn sense of responsibility. I can only trust in God that I have made no mistake.

September 24, 1862 Reply to Serenade in Honor of [Preliminary] Emancipation Proclamation
 
I have very earnestly urged the slave-states to adopt emancipation; and it ought to be, and is an object with me not to overthrow, or thwart what any of them may in good faith do, to that end.

June 23, 1863 Letter to John M. Schofield
 
On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. 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."
 
I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

February 22, 1861 Address in Independence Hall
 
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 everywhere could be free.

August 22, 1862 Letter to Horace Greeley
 
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.

December 1, 1862 Message to Congress
 
In the untimely loss of your noble son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall.
 
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.

December 23, 1862 Letter to Fanny McCullough
 
In very truth he was, the noblest work of God -- an honest man.

February 8, 1842 Eulogy of Benjamin Ferguson
 
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.

August 11, 1846 Letter to Allen N. Ford
 
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.

January 27, 1838 Lyceum Address
 
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.

July 1, 1850 [?] Notes for a Law Lecture
 
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.

July 1, 1850 [?] Notes for a Law Lecture
 
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?


July 1, 1850 [?] Notes for a Law Lecture

 

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.

November 20, 1860 Remarks at Springfield, Illinois
 
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.

August 26, 1863 Letter to James Conkling
 
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 for a peace which, so achieved, could not be of much duration.

September 12, 1864 Letter to Isaac Schermerhorn
 
In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say that the war will cease on the part of the government, whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.

December 6, 1864 Annual Message to Congress
 
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."

February 22, 1842 Temperance Address
 
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.

November 2, 1863 Letter to James H. Hackett
 
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.

January 27, 1838 Lyceum Address
 
Happy day, when, all appetites controlled, all poisons subdued, all matter subjected, mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason, all hail!

February 22, 1842 Temperance Address
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.
 
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.

February 27, 1860 Cooper Union Address
 
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 disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

December 1, 1862 Message to Congress
 
In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.

December 1, 1862 Message to Congress
 
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.

August 26, 1863 Letter to James Conkling
 
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...

March 4, 1865 Inaugural Address
 
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.

August 24, 1855 Letter to Joshua Speed
 
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.

June 16, 1858 House Divided Speech
 
I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any Abolitionist.

July 10, 1858 Speech at Chicago
Now I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil...

October 7, 1858 Debate at Galesburg, Illinois
 
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.

October 7, 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Galesburg, Illinois
 
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.

October 13, 1858 Debate at Quincy, Illinois
 
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.

December 10, 1860 Letter to Lyman Trumbull
 
And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories.

January 26, 1863 Letter to Joseph Hooker
 
War at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible.

June 16, 1864 Speech at Philadelphia
 
The true rule for the Military is to seize such property as is needed for Military uses and reasons, and let the rest alone.

January 20, 1865 Letter to Joseph J. Reynolds
 
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 .... Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

March 4, 1865 Inaugural Address
 
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.

 

 

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.