Paul’s Great Book of Great Quotes

 

These are the quotes that I really like. 

They are in no particular order.  There is no one single point to be made.  I just love these quotes.  If I state a “LATIN Statement”, then this is a Latin saying which has a great meaning. It is not necessarily attributed to anyone in particular.  Obviously, in the case of someone like Napoleon, his quote was originally  made in his original tongue (French in Bonaparte’s case) and the quote here is the translation to English. Many of the quotes did not originate in English.  Some are humourous, some are profound.  It’s up to you to figure out which is which! Some I don’t agree with, but they either say it in a cool way, or it just compelling.  Anyway, Have fun!

 

Quotes from Jesus Christ:


  • Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:1-2) (KJV)

  • Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:37-38) (KJV)

  • Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24) (NASB)
    • Variant translation: Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. (NIV)

  • So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4) (NIV)

  • If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. (Matthew 18:15) (NIV)

 

“Great wisdom is generous, petty wisdom is contentious,

great speech is impassioned, small speech is cantankerous”

 

Chuang-Tzu

 

“From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

“The bullet that will kill me is not yet cast.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

"I used to act dumb. ... That act is no longer cute"

 

Paris Hilton (June 2007, after being resent to jail)

“A great people may be killed, but they cannot be intimidated.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

 “A constitution should be framed so as not to impede the action of government, nor force the government to its violation.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

LATIN Statement:

 

"Cedat Fortuna Peritis" = “Skill is better than luck.”

 

“When you have an enemy in your power, deprive him of the means of ever injuring you.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours.”

    • Translation: “A good sketch is better than a long speech.”
    • Alternate translation: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

“A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

“A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Ability is nothing without opportunity.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

America is a fortunate country. She grows by the follies of our European nations.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

An army marches on its stomach.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Better to have a known enemy than a forced ally.”

    • Variant: Better to have an open enemy, than hidden friends.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Civil liberty depends upon the security of property.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Experience proves that armies are not always sufficient to save a nation; while a nation defended by its people is ever invincible.  

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Fanaticism must first be lulled, in order that it may be eradicated.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

Free trade favors all classes, excites all imaginations, and rouses the whole population; it is identical with equality, and tends naturally to independence.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Frenchmen know not how to conspire.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Great ambition is the passion of a great character. He who is endowed with it may perform either very great actions or very bad ones; all depends upon the principles which direct him.

Napoleon Bonaparte

If you start to take Vienna - take Vienna.

Napoleon Bonaparte

I have made all the calculations; fate will do the rest.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

I made all my generals out of mud.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering an undertaking, I have meditated long and have foreseen what might occur. It is not genius where reveals to me suddenly and secretly what I should do in circumstances unexpected by others; it is thought and preparation.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.

Napoleon Bonaparte

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

Imagination rules the world.

Napoleon Bonaparte

In a great nation, the majority are incapable of judging wisely of things.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

 

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.

Napoleon Bonaparte

In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.  

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

In warfare, the mental to the physical is as three is to one.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

It is in the workshops of the country that the most successfull war is waged against an enemy, at least it does not cost a drop of its people's blood.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

It is the cause, and not the death, that makes the martyr.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

One must change one's tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.  

Napoleon Bonaparte

People accustomed to great victories, know not how to support a day of reverse.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Popes have committed too many absurdities to create a belief in their infallibility.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Speeches pass away, but acts remain.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The allies we gain by victory, will turn against us upon the bare whisper of our defeat.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The best cure for the body is a quiet mind

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The spectacle of a field of battle after the combat is sufficient to inspire princes with the love of peace and the horror of war.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The spectacle of a field of battle after the combat is sufficient to inspire princes with the love of peace and the horror of war.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The stupid speak of the past, the wise of the present, and fools of the future.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

The true character of man ever displays itself in great events.

Napoleon Bonaparte

There is no greater misfortune for a man than to be governed by his wife: in such case he is neither himself nor his wife, he is a perfect nonentity.

Napoleon Bonaparte

There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

There is one thing that's not French: for a woman to be able to do what she likes.

Napoleon Bonaparte

You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? Excuse me, I have no time to listen to such nonsense.[… to Robert Fulton about his steam ship]

Napoleon Bonaparte

You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

When he who measures the duration of life has pronounced his secret, all the sciences of humanity are but useless essays.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

We walk faster when we walk alone.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

We must take things as we find them, and not as we wish them to be.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

We must not take up arms for vain prospects of grandeur, nor the allurements of conquest.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

We must not obstinately contend against circumstances, but rather let us obey them. We have many projects in life but little determination.

Napoleon Bonaparte

We must laugh at man to avoid crying for him.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

War is the business of barbarians.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Victory belongs to the most persevering.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

To have a right estimate of a man's character, we must see him in misfortune.

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

To extraordinary circumstances we must apply extraordinary remedies.

Napoleon Bonaparte

LATIN Statements:

 

Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est =

Yes, that is a very large amount of corn

Nihili est - in vita priore ego imperator romanus fui, =

That's nothing; in a previous life I was a Roman Emperor.

Latine loqui coactus sum. =

I have this compulsion to speak Latin.

Qui vir odiosus! =

What a bore!

“A Government protected by foreigners will never be accepted by a free people.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

“Many a one commits a reprehensible action, who is at bottom an honourable man, because man seldom acts upon natural impulse, but from some secret passion of the moment which lies hidden and concealed within the narrowest folds of his heart.”

 

Napoleon Bonaparte

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

 

Jesus Christ, Gospel of John, 3:16

  • Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
    • John 8:32

Jesus Christ

  • A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
    • John 13:34-35

Jesus Christ

  • I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    • John 14:6

Jesus Christ

  • We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!

John Adams and John Hancock (April 18, 1775)[1])

  • Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?

John Quincy Adams (1837, during a speech at Newburyport, Massachusetts)

  • Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality of all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject him.

 

  • A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.

 

 

  • I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the sort of thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or He would be the devil of hell. You must make a choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

 

  • Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, to dig the dust enclosèd here. Blest be the man that spares these stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.
    • Shakespeare's epitaph

 

  • Jaques: All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts...

 

  • Hamlet: There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

 

  • Hamlet: To be or not to be, that is the question.
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep
    No more, and by a sleep to say we end,
    The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished.

 

  • Juliet: What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

 

 

  • Casca: But, for my own part, it was Greek to me.

 

  • Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.

 

  • Antony: Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war.

 

  • Morocco: All that glisters is not gold.
    • The Merchant of Venice Act II, sc. vii This phrase is usually now slightly misquoted as "All that glitters is not gold" or "All that glistens is not gold".

 

  • Shylock: ... If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

 

  • Orsino: If music be the food of love, play on;
    Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,
    The appetite may sicken and so die.
    That strain again, it had a dying fall.
    O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
    that breathes upon a bank of violets,
    stealing and giving odour...

 

  • Feste: Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage;

 

  • Malvolio: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

 

  • Prospero: We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

 

  • Macbeth: She would have died hereafter.
    There would have been time for such a word.
    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

 

  • King Henry V: We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

 

  • The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good—in spite of all the people who say he is very good.

 

  • Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage…
    • Feste, scene v

 

  • Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
    Or close the wall up with our English dead!
    • King Henry, scene i

 

  • Over hill, over dale,
    Thorough bush, thorough brier,
    Over park, over pale,
    Thorough flood, thorough fire,
    I do wander everywhere,
    Swifter than the moon's sphere;
    And I serve the fairy queen,
    To dew her orbs upon the green.
    The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
    In their gold coats, spots you see;
    Those be rubies, fairy favours,
    In their freckles live our savours.
    I must go seek some dew-drops here,
    And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
    Farewell, thou lob of spirits, I'll be gone;
    My queen and all her elves come here anon!
    • Fairy, scene i A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
    And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
    • Helena, scene i A Midsummer Night's Dream

 

I don't believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war. Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again. 

Anne Frank

  • Now is the winter of our discontent

    • Richard, Duke of Gloucester, scene i Richard III

 

  • A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
    • King Richard, scene iv

 

  • Come not between the dragon and his wrath.
    • Lear, scene i

 

  • I am a man,
    More sinn'd against than sinning.
    • Lear, scene ii

 

  • The wheel is come full circle: I am here.
    • Edmund, scene iii

 

  • Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
    • Witches, scene i

 

  • By the pricking of my thumbs,
    Something wicked this way comes:


    • Second Witch, scene i

 

  • Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until
    Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
    Shall come against him.
    • Third Apparition, scene i

 

  • What's done cannot be undone.
    • Lady Macbeth, scene i

 

  • Macbeth: I bear a charmed life, which must not yield
    To one of woman born.
    Macduff: Despair thy charm;
    And let the angel whom thou still hast served
    Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb
    Untimely ripp'd.

    Macbeth: Accursed be the tongue that tells me so,
    For it hath cow'd my better part of man!
    And be these juggling fiends no more believ'd,
    That palter with us in a double sense;
    That keep the word of promise to our ear,
    And break it to our hope.
    • Scene viii

 

  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend.
    • Polonius, scene iii  HAMLET
  • This above all — to thine ownself be true;
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.
    • Polonius, scene iii  HAMLET
  • Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
    • Marcellus, scene iv   HAMLET
  • Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief.
    • Polonius scene ii  HAMLET
  • What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
    • Hamlet, scene ii

 

  • The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
    • Gertrude, scene ii Hamlet

 

  • There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
    Rough-hew them how we will.
    • Hamlet, scene ii

 

  • Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
    • Horatio, scene ii Hamlet

 

  • All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts.
    • Jaques, scene vii “As You Like It” Shakespeake
  • The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
    • Touchstone, scene I “As You Like It” Shakespeake

 

  • Can one desire too much of a good thing?
    • Rosalind, scene i  “As You Like It” Shakespeake

 

  • Live a little; comfort a little; cheer thyself a little.
    • Orlando, scene vi “As You Like It” Shakespeake

 

  • 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
    Another thing to fall.
    • Angelo, scene i “Measure for Measure” Shakespeare

 

  • Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.
    • Escalus, scene i “Measure for Measure” Shakespeare

 

  • O! it is excellent
    To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
    To use it like a giant.
    • Isabella, scene ii “Measure for Measure” Shakespeare

 

  • They say, best men are moulded out of faults:
    And, for the most, become much more the better,
    For being a little bad.
    • Mariana, scene i “Measure for Measure” Shakespeare

 

 

Feste sings a song that is a testament to carpe diem:  

.............. What is love? 'tis not hereafter;  
..............Present mirth hath present laughter;  
..............What's to come is still unsure:  
..............In delay there lies no plenty;  
..............Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,  
..............Youth's a stuff will not endure. (Act II, Scene III, Lines 45-50)   ....

....... Feste..Twelfth Night, or What You Will

 

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.

....... Feste ACT I, SCENE V...Twelfth Night, or What You Will (William Shakespeare)

A friend i'the court is better than a penny in purse.

William Shakespeare

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.

William Shakespeare

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.

William Shakespeare

Things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear.

William Shakespeare

To prophesy is extremely difficult - especially with regard to the future.

- Chinese proverb

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

- Henry Kissinger

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

- Albert Einstein

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

- Albert Einstein

A little learning is a dangerous thing, but a lot of ignorance is just as bad.

- Bob Edwards

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
- Will Rogers

 

Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.
- H. L. Mencken

 

The greatest risk is to risk nothing at all.
- Leo Buscaglia

 

God does not play dice with the universe.
- Albert Einstein

 

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
- James Klass

 

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
- Lao-Tsu

 

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
- Albert Einstein

 

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
- George Bernard Shaw

 

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
- Albert Einstein

 

Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival.
- W. Edwards Deming

 

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
- Winston Churchill

 

No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.
- Abraham Lincoln

 

It's not that I'm so smart , it's just that I stay with problems longer.
- Albert Einstein

 

For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.
- Bob Wells

 

Democracy is the worst system devised by with of man, except for all the others.
- Winston Churchill

 

Use soft words and hard arguments.
- Anonymous

 

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
- E. F. Schumacher

 

If a person feels he can't communicate, the least he can do is shut up about it.
-Tom Lehrer

 

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
- Anonymous

 

If you choose not to decide - you still have made a choice!
- Neil Peart

 

Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?
- Kelvin Throop

 

There are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something.
- Thomas A. Edison

 

The quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up.
- Harold R. McAlindon

 

I think; therefore I am.
- Rene Descartes

 

Never argue with a fool. Someone watching may not be able to tell the difference.
- Anonymous

 

All jobs are easy to the person who doesn't have to do them.
- Holt's Law

 

'Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one's mouth and remove all doubt.
- Samuel Johnson

 

Necessity is the mother of invention.
- Plato

 

A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai Stevenson

 

'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.
- W. C. Fields

 

  • The metric is what the person has to contribute, not the person's rank, age, or level of experience. If they have the answer, I want the answer. When I post a question on my blog, I expect the person with the answer to post back. I do not expect the person with the answer to run it through you, your OIC, the branch chief, the exec, the Division Chief and then get the garbled answer back before he or she posts it for me. The Napoleonic Code and Netcentric Collaboration cannot exist in the same space and time. It's YOUR job to make sure I get my answers and then if they get it wrong or they could have got it righter, then you guide them toward a better way... but do not get in their way.

QUOTATIONS FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN:

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.
    • Manford's Magazine, quoted from The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents by Franklin Steiner, p. 144.
  • 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)
  • Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.
    • 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)
  • The better part of one's life consists of his friendships.
    • Letter to Joseph Gillespie (13 July 1849)
  • 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.
    • Letter to George Robertson (15 August 1855)
  • You enquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point…… 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)
  • We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.
    • Speech at Bloomington (29 May 1856)
  • Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest.
    • Speech at Springfield, Illinois (26 June 1857)
  • 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.
    • Address to Chicago Abolitionists (10 July 1858); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 501
  • 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.
    • First Debate with Stephen Douglas in the Lincon-Douglas debates of the 1858 campaign for the US Senate, at Ottawa, Illinois (21 August 1858). Lincoln later quoted himself and repeated this statement in his first Inaugural Address (4 March 1861) to emphasize that any acts of secession were over-reactions to his election.
  • 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.
    • First debate with Stephen Douglas Ottawa, Illinois, (21 August 1858)
  • 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 is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.
    • Seventh and Last Joint Debate with Steven Douglas, at Alton, Illinois (15 October 1858)
  • 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 and others (6 April 1859)
  • Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.
    • Letter to Dr. Theodore Canisius (17 May 1859)
  • We know, Southern men declare that their slaves are better off than hired laborers amongst us. How little they know, whereof they speak! There is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us...Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope.
    • Fragmentary manuscript of a speech on free labor (17 September 1859?)
  • An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not "distinctly and expressly affirmed" in it.
    • Address at Cooper Union (27 February 1860)
  • Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of "don't care" on a question about which all true men do care — such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.
    • Address at Cooper Union (27 February 1860)
  • 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.
    • Address at Cooper Union (27 February 1860)
  • 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.
    • First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861)
  • 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.
    • First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861)
  • We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
    • First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861)
  • And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic or democracy — a government of the people by the same people — can or cannot maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes.
    • Address to Congress (4 July 1861)
  • 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.
    • Address to Congress (4 July 1861)
  • Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled — the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains — its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets... Such will be a great lesson of peace: teaching men that what they cannot take by election, neither can they take it by war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
    • Address to Congress (4 July 1861)
  • It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war-power, in defence of the government, forced upon him. He could but perform this duty, or surrender the existence of the government. No compromise, by public servants, could, in this case, be a cure; not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election, can only save the government from immediate destruction, by giving up the main point, upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions. As a private citizen, the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish; much less could he, in betrayal of so vast, and so sacred a trust, as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink; nor even to count the chances of his own life, in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility, he has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views, and your action, may so accord with his, as to assure all faithful citizens, who have been disturbed in their rights, of a certain, and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution, and the laws. And 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.
    • Address to Congress (4 July 1861)
  • 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.
    • First State of the Union Address (3 December 1861)
  • 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.
  • 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. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
  • 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.
    • Second Speech at Frederick, Maryland (4 October 1862)
  • 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.
    • Annual Message to Congress (1 December 1862)
  • 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 disenthrall our selves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.
    • Annual Message to Congress (1 December 1862)
  • That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
  • That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprize. 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.
    • Reply to New York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Association (21 March 1864)
  • I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.
    • Quoted in The Lexington Observer & Reporter (16 June 1864)
  • 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.
    • Words on being presented with a Bible, reported in the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle (8 September 1864)
  • Dear Madam, I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln
    • Letter to Mrs. Bixby in Boston (21 November 1864).
  • 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.
    • Statement to an Indiana Regiment passing through Washington (17 March 1865); The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Volume VIII
  • 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.
    • At the end of the Civil War, asking that a military band play “Dixie" (10 April 1865) as quoted in Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy (1962) by Hans Nathan.
  • Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.
    • Quoted in a contemporary issue of the New York Herald, in response to allegations his most successful general drank too much.
  • 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.
    • Quoted in The American Pageant by Dr. Thomas A. Bailey

The Lyceum Address (1838)

The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions : Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838)

  • At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon? — Never! Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. — It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.
    • Often the portion of this passage on "Towering genius..." is quoted without any mention or acknowledgment that Lincoln was speaking of the need to sometimes hold the ambitions of such genius in check, when individuals aim at their own personal engrandizement rather than the common good.
  • 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.
  • 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. — Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON.
    Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Speech at Peoria, Illinois (1854)

Speech at Peoria, Illinois, in Reply to Senator Douglas (16 October 1854); The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln (1894) Vol. 2 Online text

  • When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact.
  • 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. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal," and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.
  • What I do say is that 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. Our Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
    I have quoted so much at this time merely to show that, according to our ancient faith, the just powers of governments are derived from the consent of the governed. Now the relation of master and slave is pro tanto a total violation of this principle. The master not only governs the slave without his consent, but he governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-government.
  • Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature — opposition to it, in his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the Missouri Compromise — repeal all compromises — repeal the Declaration of Independence — repeal all past history, you still can not repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of man's heart, that slavery extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will continue to speak.

 

The House Divided speech (1858)

Speech at the Republican State Convention, Springfield, Illinois, accepting the Republican nomination for US Senate, (16 June 1858)

  • 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.

 

  • "A house divided against itself cannot stand." 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. It will become all one thing or all the other.
    • In this famous statement Lincoln is quoting the response of Jesus Christ to allegations that he could "cast out demons" only because he was an ally of demons.
  • Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

 

  • Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas's position, question his motives, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But clearly, he is not now with us — he does not pretend to be — he does not promise ever to be. Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends — those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work — who do care for the result.
  • Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all them to falter now? — now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail — if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.

 

The Gettysburg Address (1863)

The Gettysburg Address (19 November 1863) Based on the signed "Bliss Copy"

  • Four score 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. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

"If Slavery Is Not Wrong, Nothing Is Wrong" (1864)

Letter (4 April 1864) to Albert G. Hodges, editor of the Frankfort, Kentucky, Commonwealth (recounting their conversation of 26 March 1864). Manuscript at The Library of Congress; also in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume VII, p. 281

  • 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. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery. I did understand however, that my oath to preserve the constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that government — that nation — of which that constitution was the organic law.
  • I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.

Second Inaugural Address (1865)

Second Inaugural Address (4 March 1865)

  • 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... Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes.
  • If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
  • 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.

Unsourced

As with many very notable people, many remarks have been wrongly attributed to Lincoln, and many comments that do not have clear references to contemporary sources (and even a few that do) should be considered highly suspect.

  • 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. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
    • The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln: Six Months at the White House by Francis B. Carpenter
  • I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.
    • As a young school boy speaking about his Presidential ambitions.
  • Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
    • Attributed by William M Thayer in his The Pioneer Boy (1882)
  • Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
  • He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
    • Frederick Trevor Hill credits Lincoln with this in Lincoln the Lawyer (1906), adding that 'History has considerately sheltered the identity of the victim'.
  • He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.
  • 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 not concerned that you have fallen; I am concerned that you arise.
  • 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.
    • Attributed in Ervin S Chapman's Latest Light on Abraham Lincoln (1917).
  • I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.
    • No early authority has been found for Lincoln's saying this. Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor from 1410 to 1437, was quoted in The Sociable Story-teller (1846) as saying 'Do I not most effectually destroy my enemies, in making them my friends?'.
  • I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
    • Included in Francis T Miller's Portrait-Life of Lincoln (1910).
  • 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.
    • Found in Melancthon Woolsey Stryker's Hamilton, Lincoln & Other Addresses (1896).
  • I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
    • Attributed in Osborn Oldroyd (ed.) Lincoln Memorial (1882)
  • If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?
  • 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's my experience that folks who have no vices have generally very few virtues.
    • According to F B Carpenter's The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln (1867), Lincoln quoted this as having been said to him by a fellow-passenger in a stagecoach.
  • It is better to stay silent and let people think you are an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
  • Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.
  • Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
  • My earlier views at 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.
  • 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 matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.
  • 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.
    • Attributed in Daniel Kilham Dodge's Abraham Lincoln: The Evolution of his Literary Style (1900)
  • The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.
  • The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.
  • The Lord prefers common-looking people: that is why he made so many of them.
    • Lincoln told John Hay that he had said this in a dream to someone who told him he was common-looking (J G Nicolay and John Hay Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890))
  • The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.
  • To ease another's heartache is to forget one's own.
  • Well, for those who like that sort of thing, I should think it is just about the sort of thing they would like.
    • Also given in the Penguin Book of Quotations 1960 as:
      • People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.
        • Of a book.
  • What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.
  • When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.
  • You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
  • You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.
    • Also said to be an Irish proverb.
  • 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 cannot bring myself to believe that any human being lives who would do me harm.
  • From time to time, life as a leader can look hopeless. To help you, consider a man who lived through this: Failed in business at age 31. Defeated for the legislature at 32. Again failed in business at 34. Sweetheart died at 35. Had a nervous breakdown at 36. Defeated in election at 38. Defeated for Congress at 43. Defeated for Congress at 46. Defeated for Congress at 48. Defeated for Senate at 55. Defeated for Vice President at 56. Defeated for Senate at 58. Elected President at age 60. This man was Abraham Lincoln.
    • Anonymous; these numbers are years in the 1800s, not ages of his life
  • It never occurs to some politicians that Lincoln is worth imitating as well as quoting.
    • Anonymous

“O captain! my captain! our fearful trip is done;
  The ship has weather'd every rack; the prize we sought is won;
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
      While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring?
        But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red,
          Where on the deck my captain lies, fallen cold and dead.”

 

WALT WHITMAN American poet (speaking of Abraham Lincoln on his death)

Nor am I less persuaded, that you will agree with me in opinion, that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the community, as in ours, it is proportionately essential. To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways; by convincing those who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people; and by teaching the people themselves to know, and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority, between burdens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.

George Washington's First State of the Union Address 8 January 1790

Quotes by George Washington

 

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company.

George Washington

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.

George Washington

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

George Washington

It's wonderful what we can do if we're always doing.

George Washington

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

George Washington

Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!

George Washington

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

George Washington, letter to his niece Harriet Washington, October 30, 1791

'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.

George Washington

If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.

George Washington

To be prepared for War is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

George Washington

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

George Washington

Do not conceive that fine clothes make fine men, any more than fine feathers make fine birds. A plain, genteel dress is more admired, obtains more credit in the eyes of the judicious and sensible.

George Washington

A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.

George Washington

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence -- it is force.

George Washington

Men's minds are as variant as their faces. Where the motives of their actions are pure, the operation of the former is no more to be imputed to them as a crime, than the appearance of the latter; for both, being the work of nature, are alike unavoidable.

 George Washington

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.

George Washington

The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.

George Washington

 

In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude.

George Washington

 

The liberality of sentiment toward each other, which marks every political and religious denomination of men in this country, stands unparalleled in the history of nations.

George Washington

 

I die hard but am not afraid to go.

George Washington

 

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered ... deeply, ... finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

George Washington

 

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.

George Washington

 

I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education which I received from my mother.

George Washington

 

Our country's honor calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.

George Washington

 

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.... Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue?

George Washington

 

To err is natural; to rectify error is glory.

George Washington

I go to the chair of government with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.

George Washington

 

We ought to be persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.

George Washington

 

One of his officers, Henry Lee, summed up contemporary public opinion of Washington: First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

Henry Lee, on George Washington

 

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

George Washington

 

We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear-bought experience.

George Washington

 

The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing — a vice little known heretofore in the American army — is growing into fashion. Let the men and officers reflect 'that we can not hope for the blessing of heaven on our army if we insult it by our impiety and folly.'

George Washington