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 unsolved ones.
~ September 30, 1859 – Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society
All the good the Saviour 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 to be found portrayed in it.
~ September 7, 1864 – Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible
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.” To 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
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
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
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.
~ The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, (August 1, 1858), p. 532.
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 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 ever 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.
~ Fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debate, 18 September 1858
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, quoted in Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings, by Roy Prentice Basler
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, 18 September 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.
~ From the first debate with Stephen Douglas in the Lincon-Douglas debates of the 1858 campaign for the US Senate, at Ottawa, Illinois, 21 August 1858, and later repeated in his first Inaugural Address, 4 March 1861
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 while crossing streams’.
~ The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VII, “Reply to Delegation from the National Union League” (June 9, 1864), p. 384.
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
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!
~ The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, “Address Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin” (September 30, 1859), pp. 481-482.
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.
~ The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, “Letter to Horace Greeley” (August 22, 1862), p. 388.
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.
~ August 15, 1855 – Letter to George Robertson
The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.
~ Letter to Joseph Gillespie, 13 July 1849
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
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
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.
~ Herndon’s Life of Lincoln by William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik (New York, Da Capo Press, 1983), p. 354.
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
Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
~ Letter to Henry L Pierce, 6 April 1859
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.
~ Communication to the people of Sangamo County, 9 March 1832)
What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?
~ Lincoln’s Cooper Institute Address, February 27, 1860.
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.
~ from his Second Inaugural Address
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.
~ From the first debate with Stephen Douglas Ottawa, Illinois, 21 August 1858
A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.
A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.
All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.
All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.
Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
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.
Avoid popularity if you would have peace.
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.
Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old.
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.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.
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.
I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.
I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
It is an established maxim and moral 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.
It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
Knavery and flattery are blood relations.
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.
Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.
Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.
No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.
Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar.
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.
Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.
That some achieve great success, is proof others can achieve it as well.
The fiery trials through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.
The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.
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.
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.
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.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
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.
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.
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.
When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.
When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.
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.
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.
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The problem with using quotes from the internet is verifying the authenticity of the source.
~ Abraham Lincoln