Update
Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 01 December 2021

Abraham Lincoln 1809–65
American statesman, 16th President 1861–5. See also Boetcker 

  1. To give victory to the right, not bloody bullets, but peaceful ballots only, are necessary.
    often quoted as, ‘The ballot is stronger than the bullet’
    speech, 18 May 1858
  2. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.
    speech, 16 June 1858; see Bible
  3. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?
    speech, 27 February 1860, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 3
  4. 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.
    speech, 27 February 1860, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 3
  5. I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations, and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules.
    first inaugural address, 4 March 1861, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 4
  6. 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
  7. I think the necessity of being ready increases. Look to it.
    the whole of a letter to Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania, 8 April 1861, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 4
  8. He who does something at the head of one regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred.
    letter to Major-General David Hunter, 31 December 1861, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 5
  9. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union…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.
    letter to Horace Greeley, 22 August 1862, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 5
  10. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honourable 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
  11. Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…we here highly resolve that the 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, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
    address at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, 19 November 1863, as reported the following day, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 7
  12. The Lord prefers common-looking people. That is the reason he makes so many of them.
    John Hay Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary (1908) vol 1, 23 December 1863
  13. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.
    letter to A. G. Hodges, 4 April 1864
  14. It is not best to swap horses when crossing streams.
    reply to National Union League, 9 June 1864
  15. 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 bond-man'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 judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
    second inaugural address, 4 March 1865, in R. P. Basler (ed.) Collected Works… (1953) vol. 8; see Bible
  16. 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.
    second inaugural address, 4 March 1865
  17. I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
    remark to Joseph Gillespie, in letter from Gillespie to Herald and Torch Light [Hagerstown, MD] 15 March 1876
  18. If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?
    attributed
  19. People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.
    judgement of a book
    G. W. E. Russell Collections and Recollections (1898) ch. 30
  20. Perhaps a man's character is like a tree and his reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
    Noah Brooks Washington in Lincoln's Time (1896)
  21. So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!
    on meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin
    Carl Sandburg Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1936) vol. 2, ch. 39
  22. You may fool all 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.
    also attributed to Phineas Barnum
    Alexander K. McClure Lincoln's Yarns and Stories (1904)