Abraham Lincoln

Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln was the President of the United States during the Civil War.

“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”
– February 14, 1861 -  Remarks at the Monogahela House

“If all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union this voyage nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”
– February 15, 1861 – Speech at Cleveland, Ohio

“I have stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me, and in the arrangement I have the best of the bargain.”
– February 16, 1861 – Remarks at Painesville, Ohio

“One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended.”

– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual.”
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.”
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776.”
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy.”
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it’.”
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“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.”
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

“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.”
– December 3, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Annual Message to Congress

“I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”
– August 22, 1862 – Letter to Horace Greeley

“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was.’”
– August 22, 1862 – Letter to Horace Greeley

“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.”
– August 22, 1862 – Letter to Horace Greeley

“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.”
– September 1862 – Meditation on the Divine Will

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
– December 1, 1862 – Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress

“In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.”
– December 1, 1862 – Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress

“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.”
– December 1, 1862 – Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress

“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 ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
– December 1, 1862 – Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress

“I cannot make it better known than it already is that I strongly favor colonization.”
– December 1, 1862 – Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress

“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. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”
– December 1, 1862 – Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.”
– December 23, 1862 – Letter to Fanny McCullough

“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.”
– January 1, 1863 – Final Emancipation Proclamation

“You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm.”
– January 26, 1863 Letter to Joseph Hooker

“I would like to speak in terms of praise due to the many brave officers and soldiers who have fought in the cause of the war.”
– July 7, 1863 – Response to a Serenade

“I freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of service — the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them.”
– August 26, 1863 – Letter to James Conkling

“You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps, would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional — I think differently.”
– August 26, 1863 – Letter to James Conkling

“But the proclamation, as law, either is valid, or is not valid. If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it can not be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life.”
– August 26, 1863 – Letter to James Conkling

“Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time.”
– August 26, 1863 – Letter to James Conkling

“You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but, no matter. Fight you, then exclusively to save the Union.”
– August 26, 1863 – Letter to James Conkling

“And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonnet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation…”
– August 26, 1863 – Letter to James Conkling

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”
–  October 3, 1863 – Proclamation of Thanksgiving

“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.”
– November 19, 1863 – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
– November 19, 1863 – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
– November 19, 1863 – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

“I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America!”
– March 18, 1864 – Remarks at Closing of Sanitary Fair, Washington D.C.

“Property is the fruit of labor…property is desirable…is a positive good in the world. 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.”
– March 21, 1864 – Reply to New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association”.

“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.”
– April 4, 1864 – Letter to Albert Hodges

“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.”
– April 4, 1864 – Letter to Albert Hodges

“I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
– April 4, 1864 – Letter to Albert Hodges

“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.”
– April 18, 1864 – Address at Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, Maryland

“I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer who remarked to a companion once that ‘it was not best to swap horses while crossing streams’.”
–June 9, 1864 – Reply to Delegation from the National Union League”

“I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call, but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called.”
– July 7, 1864 – Response to a Serenade

“It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives.”
– August 22, 1864 – Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment

“I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country.”
– August 22, 1864 – Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment

“There is more involved in this contest than is realized by every one. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed.”
– August 22, 1864 – Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment

“We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed.”
– August 22, 1864 – Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment

“I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has.”
– August 22, 1864 – Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment

“We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein.”
– September 4, 1864 – Letter to Eliza Gurney

“I am much indebted to the good Christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself.”
– September 4, 1864 – Letter to Eliza Gurney

“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 Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book.”
– September 7, 1864 – Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible

“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.”
– November 21, 1864 – Letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby

“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.”
– November 21, 1864 – Letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby

“One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.”
– March 4, 1865 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“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.”
– March 4, 1865 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”
– March 4, 1865 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came …. Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”
– March 4, 1865 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“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.”
– March 4, 1865 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“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.”
– March 4, 1865 – Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

“Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
– March 17, 1865 – Speech to One Hundred Fortieth Indiana Regiment

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