Abraham Lincoln Quotes


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

[Uniting workers should not] lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. ~Abraham Lincoln

[With the Union saved] 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

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. ~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

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


Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two [good and evil].  ~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

Although what I am now to say is to be, in form, a reprimand, it is not intended to add a pang to what you have already suffered. ~Abraham Lincoln

An exorbitant fee should never be claimed. ~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

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 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. ~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

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

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

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

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

Common looking people are the best in the world ~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

Every head should be cultivated. ~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.... ~Abraham Lincoln

Fair play is a jewell [sic]. Give him a chance if you can. ~Abraham Lincoln

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. ~Abraham Lincoln

Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope. ~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

Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold. ~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 who does something at the head of one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred. ~Abraham Lincoln

Holding myself the humblest of all whose names were before the convention, I feel in especial need of the assistance of all. ~Abraham Lincoln

How miserably things seem to be arranged in this world. 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

Human-nature will not change. ~Abraham Lincoln

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

I am glad I made the late race. It gave me a hearing on the great and durable question of the age, which I could have had in no other way; and though I now sink out of view, and shall be forgotten, I believe I have made some marks which will tell for the cause of civil liberty long after I am gone. ~Abraham Lincoln

I am in no boastful mood. 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 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 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

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 you to be a brave and a skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. ~Abraham Lincoln


I can and will pay it if it is right; but I don't wish to be "diddled!" ~Abraham Lincoln

I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and that I will be blamed for it, whether ~Abraham Lincoln

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 claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. ~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 don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. ~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 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 go for all sharing the privileges of the government, who assist in bearing its burthens. ~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 it 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 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 in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success, can set up dictators. ~Abraham Lincoln

I have just read your dispatch about sore tongued and fatiegued [sic] horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietem that fatigue anything? ~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 no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgement, will probably for ever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I ... am in favour 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 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 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 must, in candor, say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. ~Abraham Lincoln

I never have been, am not now, and probably never shall be, in a mood of harassing the people, either North or South. ~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. ~Abraham Lincoln

I think the authors of that notable instrument [the Declaration of Independence] intended to include all men. ~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 want in all cases to do right. ~Abraham Lincoln

I was born and have ever remaind [sic] in the most humble walks of life. ~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 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 see, in process of disappearing, that only thing which ever could bring this nation to civil war. ~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

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 course black hair, and grey eyes—no other marks or brands recollected. ~Abraham Lincoln

If he talks ambiguously—talks for his country with "buts" and "ifs" and "ands." ~Abraham Lincoln

If I fail, it will be for lack of ability, and not of purpose. ~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 good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined. ~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 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. ~Abraham Lincoln

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

If you can hold your present position, we shall "hive" the enemy yet. ~Abraham Lincoln

If you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life. ~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


Important principles may, and must, be inflexible. ~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—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

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 law it is a good policy to never plead what you need not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what you can not. ~Abraham Lincoln

In leaving the people's business in their hands, we can not be wrong. ~Abraham Lincoln

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child. May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power. ~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 this contest, mere men are nothing. ~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. The older have learned to ever expect it. ~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 own existence, in great emergencies. ~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 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

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

Legislation and adjudication must follow, and conform to, the progress of society. ~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 him have the marble monument, along with the well-assured and more enduring one in the hearts of those who love liberty, unselfishly, for all men. ~Abraham Lincoln

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

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, therefore, study the incidents of this [war], as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. ~Abraham Lincoln

Military glory—the attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood. ~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 for a peace which, so achieved, could not be of much duration. ~Abraham Lincoln

My case is thrown exclusively upon the independent voters of this county, and if elected they will have conferred a favor upon me, for which I shall be unremitting in my labors to compensate. ~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 parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families—second families, perhaps I should say. ~Abraham Lincoln

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

I must beg your pardon for declining it. ~Abraham Lincoln

Now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest, re-unite in a common effort, to save our common country? ~Abraham Lincoln

Now, and ever, I shall do all in my power for peace, consistently with the maintenance of government. ~Abraham Lincoln

Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, and boldest action to bring it speedy relief. ~Abraham Lincoln

Our down East friends, did, indeed, treat me with great kindness, demonstrating what I before believed, that all good, intelligent people are very much alike. ~Abraham Lincoln

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. ~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

Property is the fruit of labor—property is desirable—is a positive good in the world. ~Abraham Lincoln

Remembering that when not a very great man begins to be mentioned for a very great position, his head is very likely to be a little turned, I concluded I am not the fittest person to answer the questions you ask. ~Abraham Lincoln

So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man's bosom. ~Abraham Lincoln

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

Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong. ~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

That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. ~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 ballot is stronger than the bullet. ~Abraham Lincoln

The better part of one's life consists of his friendships. ~Abraham Lincoln

The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one, or even one hundred defeats. ~Abraham Lincoln

The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. ~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 issue is a mighty one for all people and all time; and whoever aids the right, will be appreciated and remembered. ~Abraham Lincoln

The lady—bearer of this—says she has two sons who want to work. Set them at it, if possible. Wanting to work is so rare a merit, that it should be encouraged. ~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 loss of enemies does not compensate for the loss of friends. ~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 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 people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions. ~Abraham Lincoln

The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them. ~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 severest justice may not always be the best policy. ~Abraham Lincoln

The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great North-West for it. Nor yet wholly to them.... The job was a great national one. ~Abraham Lincoln

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 struggle of today, is not altogether for today—it is for a vast future also. ~Abraham Lincoln

The taste is in my mouth a little; and this, no doubt, disqualifies me, to some extent, to form correct opinions. ~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. ~Abraham Lincoln

The unpleasant events you are passing from will not have been profitless to you. ~Abraham Lincoln

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. ~Abraham Lincoln

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. ~Abraham Lincoln


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

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. ~Abraham Lincoln

Thus let bygones be bygones. Let past differences, as nothing be. ~Abraham Lincoln

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

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

To you, more than to any others, the privilege is given, to assure that happiness [of saving the Union], and swell that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith forever. ~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

Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of man, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them. ~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 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

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 have all heard of Young America. He is the most current youth of the age. ~Abraham Lincoln

We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. ~Abraham Lincoln

No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. ~Abraham Lincoln

We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth. ~Abraham Lincoln

We want, and must have, a national policy, as to slavery, which deals with it as being wrong. ~Abraham Lincoln

What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of Slavery? ~Abraham Lincoln

What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? ~Abraham Lincoln

What would you do in my position? Would you drop the war where it is? Or, would you prosecute it in future, with elderstalk squirts, charged with rose water? ~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 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

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

Work, work, work, is the main thing. ~Abraham Lincoln

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. ~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 have confidence in yourself, which is valuable, if not an indispensable quality. ~Abraham Lincoln

You have constantly urged the idea that you were persecuted because you did not come from West-Point, and you repeat it in these letters. This, my dear general, is I fear, the rock on which you have split. ~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

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