Quotes from Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's Words

Abraham Lincoln
Juan García casually cruel/ Flickr CC

Abraham Lincoln served as America's 16th President of the United States, during the American Civil War. He was assassinated soon after beginning his second term as president. Following are quotes from the man many believe to be the most significant president. 

On Patriotism and Politics

"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." Said during the Second Inaugural Address given on Saturday, March 4, 1865.

"What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?" Stated during the Cooper Union Speech made on February 27, 1860. 

"'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." Stated in the House Divided speech delivered at the Republican State Convention on June 16, 1858 in Springfield, Illinois. 

On Enslavement and Racial Equality

"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong." Stated in a letter to A. G. Hodges written on April, 4, 1864. 

"[A]mong free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause, and pay the cost." Written in a letter to James C. Conkling. This was to be read to individuals who attended a rally on September 3, 1863. 

"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 other country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy." Written in a letter to Joshua Speed on August 24, 1855. Speed and Lincoln had been friends since the 1830s. 

On Honesty 

"Truth is generally the best vindication against slander." Stated in a letter to the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on July 18, 1864.

"It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time." Attributed to Abraham Lincoln. However, there is some question about this. 

On Learning

"[B]ooks serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new, after all." Recalled by J. E. Gallaher in his book about Lincoln called Best Lincoln Stories: Tersely Told published in 1898. 

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Kelly, Martin. "Quotes from Abraham Lincoln." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/quotes-from-abraham-lincoln-103829. Kelly, Martin. (2021, February 16). Quotes from Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-abraham-lincoln-103829 Kelly, Martin. "Quotes from Abraham Lincoln." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-abraham-lincoln-103829 (accessed June 4, 2023).