Lincoln in 1863 at the age of 54
|16th President of the United States|
March 4, 1861 â€“ April 15, 1865
|Vice President||Hannibal Hamlin (1861â€“1865)
Andrew Johnson (1865)
|Preceded by||James Buchanan|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Johnson|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois’s 7th district
March 4, 1847 â€“ March 3, 1849
|Preceded by||John Henry|
|Succeeded by||Thomas L. Harris|
|Member of the Illinois House of Representatives|
February 12, 1809|
Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||April 15, 1865
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Cause of death||Assassination|
|Resting place||Lincoln Tomb, Oak Ridge Cemetery
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.
|Political party||Whig (1834â€“1854)
|National Union (1864â€“1865)|
|Height||6 ft 4 in (193 cm) |
|Spouse(s)||Mary Todd (m. 1842)|
|Children||Robert, Edward, Willie, and Tad|
|Religion||See: Abraham Lincoln and religion|
|Allegiance|| United States of America
|Years of service||3 months
(April 21, 1832 â€“ July 10, 1832)
OBS:. Discharged from his command and re-enlisted as a Private.
|Battles/wars||Black Hawk War|
Our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the Negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, sneered at, construed, hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.
Oh, yes; you Virginians shed barrels of perspiration while standing off at a distance and superintending the work your slaves do for you. It is different with us. Here it is every fellow for himself, or he doesn't get there.
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.
When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.
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.
I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.
My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
It would astonish if not amuse the older citizens to learn that I (a strange, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy, working at ten dollars per month) have been put down as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic family distinction.
I can express all my views on the slavery question by quotations from Henry Clay.
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.
Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion,and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
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.
It is a great piece of folly to attempt to make anything out of my early life.
I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.
If a man had more than one life, I think a little hanging would not hurt this one; but after he is once dead, we cannot bring him back, no matter how sorry we may be; so the boy shall be pardoned.
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.
I go for all sharing the privileges of the government, who assist in bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all whites to the right of suffrage, who pay taxes or bear arms (by no means excluding females).
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 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.
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.
I have said a hundred times, and I have no inclination to take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and to interfere with the question of slavery at all. I have said that always.
I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
Gold is good in its place; but loving, brave, patriotic men are better than gold.
My father… removed from Kentucky to… Indiana, in my eighth year… It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up… Of course when I came of age, I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher… but that was all.
In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong.
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and to the young, it comes with bitterest agony because it takes them unawares. I have had experience enough to know what I say.
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.
I think that slavery is wrong, morally, socially and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.
That I am not a member of any Christian church is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures, and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.
When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.
Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.
Illinois surpasses every other spot of equal extent upon the face of the globe in fertility of soil and in the proportionable amount of the same which is sufficiently level for actual cultivation.
The legal right of the Southern people to reclaim their fugitives I have constantly admitted. The legal right of Congress to interfere with their institution in the states, I have constantly denied.
The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.
In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in that we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.
Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all.
It is rather for us 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.
Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this.
I perhaps ought to say that individually I never was much interested in the Texas question. I never could see much good to come of annexation, inasmuch as they were already a free republican people on our own model.
I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
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.
Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.
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.
We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
If you think you can slander a woman into loving you, or a man into voting for you, try it till you are satisfied.
In my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the government. The government will not use force unless force is used against it.
You may think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me like a trifle, but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, the poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day; that by honest work, I had earned a dollar. I was a more hopeful and thoughtful boy from that time.
The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.
Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine, should any ever do so, it is my intention to do all in my power to make her happy and contented; and there is nothing I can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort.
He who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.
Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature – opposition to it is 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.
'A living dog is better than a dead lion.' Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He don't care anything about it.
The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.
I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.
In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated. It is the lawyer's avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech.
Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.
The man who could go to Africa and rob her of her children, and then sell them into interminable bondage, with no other motive than that which is furnished by dollars and cents, is so much worse than the most depraved murderer that he can never receive pardon at my hand.
The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him.
Repeal the Missouri Compromise – repeal all compromises – repeal the Declaration of Independence – repeal all past history, you still cannot repeal human nature. It 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.
I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.
The mystic cords 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 angels of our nature.
Upon the subjects of which I have treated, I have spoken as I have thought. I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them; but, holding it a sound maxim that it is better only sometimes to be right than at all times to be wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them.
Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected.
Standing as I do, with my hand upon this staff, and under the folds of the American flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it.
To the best of my judgment, I have labored for, and not against, the Union. As I have not felt, so I have not expressed any harsh sentiment towards our Southern brethren. I have constantly declared, as I really believed, the only difference between them and us is the difference of circumstances.
It is with your aid, as the people, that I think we shall be able to preserve – not the country, for the country will preserve itself, but the institutions of the country – those institutions which have made us free, intelligent and happy – the most free, the most intelligent, and the happiest people on the globe.
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.
By what principle of original right is it that one-fiftieth or one-ninetieth of a great nation, by calling themselves a State, have the right to break up and ruin that nation as a matter of original principle?
Stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.
I do not think I could myself be brought to support a man for office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion.
I understand a ship to be made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo, and so long as the ship can be saved, with the cargo, it should never be abandoned. This Union likewise should never be abandoned unless it fails and the possibility of its preservation shall cease to exist, without throwing passengers and cargo overboard.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.
As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.
I believe it is universally understood and acknowledged that all men will ever act correctly, unless they have a motive to do otherwise.
If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.
If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and lone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors.
The assertion that 'all men are created equal' was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use.
Among the friends of Union, there is great diversity of sentiment and of policy in regard to slavery and the African race among us.
No man is good enough to govern another man without the other's consent.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
If there should prove to be one real, living Free State Democrat in Kansas, I suggest that it might be well to catch him and stuff and preserve his skin as an interesting specimen of that soon-to-be-extinct variety of the genus Democrat.
Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people to exclude slavery, voted down? Plainly enough now, the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision.
To give victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary.
Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska, or other new territories, is not a matter of exclusive concern to the people who may go there. The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these territories. We want them for the homes of free white people.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
I have great respect for the semicolon; it is a mighty handy little fellow.
How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn't make it a leg.
I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
He who molds the public sentiment… makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to make.
We think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it has often overruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it overrule this.
When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.
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.
If the people of Utah shall peacefully form a State Constitution tolerating polygamy, will the Democracy admit them into the Union?
Some single mind must be master, else there will be no agreement in anything.
I should like to know if, taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, you begin making exceptions to it, where will you stop? If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?
Let the people on both sides keep their self-possession, and just as other clouds have cleared away in due time, so will this, and this great nation shall continue to prosper as before.
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.
We can succeed only by concert. It is not, 'Can any of us imagine better,' but, 'Can we all do better?'
When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying.
The people know their rights, and they are never slow to assert and maintain them when they are invaded.
I learned a great many years ago that in a fight between husband and wife, a third party should never get between the woman's skillet and the man's ax-helve.
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.
The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them.
I have talked with great men, and I do not see how they differ from others.
Biographies, as generally written, are not only misleading but false… In most instances, they commemorate a lie and cheat posterity out of the truth.
I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right; but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord's side.
Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me is a matter of profound wonder.
Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition is yet to be developed.
I pass my life in preventing the storm from blowing down the tent, and I drive in the pegs as fast as they are pulled up.
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.
It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end… I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.
No policy that does not rest upon some philosophical public opinion can be permanently maintained.
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.
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.
I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.
I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.
I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by my friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance.
There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury.
When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
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.
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.
Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.
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.
My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families – second families, perhaps I should say.
I have always hated slavery, I think, as much as any abolitionist. I have been an Old Line Whig. I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska Bill began.
I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great God, who assisted him, shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same omniscient mind and almighty arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail – I shall succeed.
In so far as the government lands can be disposed of, I am in favor of cutting up the wild lands into parcels so that every poor man may have a home.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles – the oppression of tyranny – to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke than to add anything that would tend to crush them.
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 some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.
It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines or old laws, but to break up both and make new ones.
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.
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.
Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be, as the egg is to the fowl; we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it.
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.
I never went to school more than six months in my life, but I can say this: that among my earliest recollections, I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand.
If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled just as surely as all other difficulties of like character which have originated in this government have been adjusted.
The point – the power to hurt – of all figures lies in the truthfulness of their application.
Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap – let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.
I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause.
It has so happened in all ages of the world that some have labored, and others have, without labor, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits.
A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.
Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality.
We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us.
For my part, I desire to see the time when education – and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry – shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.
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.
Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar.
I am like a man so busy in letting rooms in one end of his house, that he can't stop to put out the fire that is burning the other.
These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.
The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every calling, is diligence.
A man watches his pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.
There is another old poet whose name I do not now remember who said, 'Truth is the daughter of Time.'
Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.
The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.
I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind.
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.
If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.