Abraham Lincoln Quotes

A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.

Abraham Lincoln had a moral elevation most rare in a statesman, or indeed in any man.

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 hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

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 a purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

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

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not ‘distinctly and expressly affirmed’ in it.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

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.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

As our case is new, we must think and act anew.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Avoid popularity if you would have peace.

Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.

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.

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

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. Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.

Did Stanton say I was a damned fool? Then I dare say I must be one, for Stanton is generally right and he always says what he means.

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.

Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

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.

Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old.

Everybody likes a compliment.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

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.

From the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest cause – that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty. But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with the circumstances that produced it.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

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

He has a face like a hoosier Michael Angelo, so awful ugly it becomes beautiful, with its strange mouth, its deep-cut, criss-cross lines, and its doughnut complexion.

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.

He who molds the public sentiment… makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to make.

Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible.

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 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.

I am a patient man – always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance. Still I must save this government if possible.

I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.

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

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.

I am not concerned that you have fallen; I am concerned that you arise.

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.

I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall into this vice.

I can make more generals, but horses cost money.

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.

I cannot bring myself to believe that any human being lives who would do me harm.

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

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end… 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.

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.

I do not consider that I have ever accomplished anything without God; and if it is His will that I must die by the hand of an assassin, I must be resigned. I must do my duty as I see it, and leave the rest with God.

I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.

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

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice.

I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country’s cause.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.

I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.

I propose now closing up by requesting you play a certain piece of music or a tune. I thought ‘Dixie’ one of the best tunes I ever heard… I had heard our adversaries over the way had attempted to appropriate it. I insisted yesterday that we had fairly captured it… I presented the question to the Attorney-General, and he gave his opinion that it is our lawful prize… I ask the Band to give us a good turn upon it.

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.

I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.

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.

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.

I went to the White House shortly after tea where I found ‘the original gorilla,’ about as intelligent as ever. What a specimen to be at the head of our affairs now!

I will prepare and some day my chance will come.

I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.

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

If it wasn’t for Abe Lincoln, I’d still be on the open market.

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.

If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it. If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.

I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.

Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

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.

In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong.

In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular colour.

In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book.

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

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

It is better to stay silent and let people think you are an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river.

It is the eternal struggle between these two principles – right and wrong – throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings.

It never occurs to some politicians that Lincoln is worth imitating as well as quoting.

It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.

It’s my experience that folks who have no vices have generally very few virtues.

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.

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.

Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.

Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. Lincoln marked the half-way post on the road to the sewers (in presidents).

Lincoln is a sui generis figure in the annals of history. He has no initiative, no idealistic impetus, cothurnus, no historical trappings.

Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.

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.

Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them.

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

My earlier views on the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.

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

Negro equality! Fudge! How long, in the government of a God, great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue to be knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagogism as this?

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.

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

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.

Now let it be written in history and on Mr. Lincoln’s tombstone: ‘He died an unbeliever.’

Ohio claims they are due a president as they haven’t had one since Taft. Look at the United States, they have not had one since Lincoln.

Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.

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

Public opinion in this country is everything.

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.

Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar.

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.

Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it, in his love of justice.

So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!

Some day I shall be President.

Some single mind must be master, else there will be no agreement in anything.

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

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 our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away.

Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one. That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.

That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. 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.

The assertion that ‘all men are created equal’ was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use.

The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown, and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.

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

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.

The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.

The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.

The cruelest thing that has happened to Lincoln since he was shot by Booth was to fall into the hands of Carl Sandburg.

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.

The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.

The Lord prefers common-looking people: that is why he made so many of them.

The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.

The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.

The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them.

The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.

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 shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.

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.

The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.

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.

The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him.

There is another old poet whose name I do not now remember who said, ‘Truth is the daughter of Time.’

There is no room for two distinct races of white men in America, much less for two distinct races of whites and blacks.

There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages.

These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people.

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.

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 their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

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 their 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. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend.

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.

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

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.

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

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.

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

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.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.

We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.

Whatever you are, be a good one.

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

When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.

When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus.

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.

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?

Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest.

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.

With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.

With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.

You and I are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other races. Whether it be right or wrong, I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living amongst us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.

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 strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence. 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.

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.