Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman, politician, and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis.[2][3] He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

Born in Kentucky, Lincoln grew up on the frontier in a poor family. Self-educated, he became a lawyer, Whig Party leader, state legislator and Congressman. He left government to resume his law practice, but angered by the success of Democrats in opening the prairie lands to slavery, reentered politics in 1854. He became a leader in the new Republican Party and gained national attention in 1858 for debating and losing to national Democratic leader Stephen A. Douglas in a Senate campaign. He then ran for President in 1860, sweeping the North and winning. Southern pro-slavery elements took his win as proof that the North was rejecting the Constitutional rights of Southern states to practice slavery. They began the process of seceding from the union. To secure its independence, the new Confederate States of America fired on Fort Sumter, one of the few U.S. forts in the South. Lincoln called up volunteers and militia to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union.

Here are 20 of his quotes:

  1. “Perhaps a man’s character was like a tree, and his reputation like its shadow; the shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing.”
  2. “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
  3. “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
  4. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
  5. “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”
  6. “Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did.”
  7. “Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
  8. “If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end…”
  9. “Do good to those who hate you and turn their ill will to friendship.”
  10. “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.”
  11. “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
  12. “We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.”
  13. “Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
  14. “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”
  15. “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.”
  16. “The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them.”
  17. “The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.”
  18. “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
  19. “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”
  20. “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.”

All quotes were taken from the Library of Congress or Wikimedia Commons