ABRAHAM LINCOLN QUOTES VI

U.S. President (1809-1865)

You say men ought to be hung for the way they are executing the law; I say the way it is being executed is quite as good as any of its antecedents. It is being executed in the precise way which was intended from the first, else why does no Nebraska man express astonishment or condemnation? Poor Reeder is the only public man who has been silly enough to believe that anything like fairness was ever intended, and he has been bravely undeceived.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 22, 1855

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Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but, if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech to the Sub-Treasury, Sangamon Journal, March 6, 1840

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In this troublesome world, we are never quite satisfied. When you were here, I thought you hindered me some in attending to business; but now, having nothing but business---no variety---it has grown exceedingly tasteless to me. I hate to sit down and direct documents, and I hate to stay in this old room by myself.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to his wife, April 16, 1848

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On my return from Philadelphia, yesterday, where, in my anxiety I had been led to attend the whig convention, I found your last letter. I was so tired and sleepy, having ridden all night, that I could not answer it till today; and now I have to do so in the H. R. The leading matter in your letter, is your wish to return to the side of the mountains. Will you be a good girl in all things, if I consent? Then come along, and that as soon as possible. Having got the idea in my head, I shall be impatient till I see you.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to his wife, June 12, 1848

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We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech at the first Republican state convention of Illinois, May 29, 1856

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Tags: promises


If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such a case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such a minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it?... Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and of generosity. What one of us but can call to mind some relative more promising in youth than all his fellows, who has fallen a sacrifice to his rapacity?

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, February 22, 1842

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Tags: alcoholism


All the strange, checkered past seems to crowd upon my mind.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, February 11, 1861

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Tags: past


There is something so ludicrous in promises of good or threats of evil a great way off as to render the whole subject with which they are connected easily turned into ridicule.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, February 22, 1842

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Tags: promises


There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief. Resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, memorandum for law lecture, 1850

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Tags: lawyers


A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, October 16, 1854

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Nobody has ever expected me to be President. In my poor, lean, lank face, nobody has ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting out.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, July 17, 1858

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On this subject of treating [slavery] as a wrong and limiting its spread, let me say a word. Has anything ever threatened the existence of this Union save and except this very institution of slavery? What is it that we hold most dear amongst us? Our own liberty and prosperity. What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of slavery? If this is true, how do you propose to improve the condition of things by enlarging slavery,--by spreading it out and making it bigger? You may have a wen or a cancer upon your person, and not be able to cut it out lest you bleed to death; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and spread it over your whole body.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, debate with Douglas, October 15, 1858

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If we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant and warm-blooded to fall in to this vice. The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and generosity.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, address to the Washington Temperance Society in Springfield, Illinois, February 22, 1842

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The victor shall soon be the vanquished, if he relax his exertion; and ... the vanquished this year, may be the victor in the next, in spite of all competition.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, September 30, 1859

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This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal, for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world; enables the enemies of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it forces so many good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech at Peoria, Illinois, in reply to Senator Douglas, October 16, 1854

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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.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech delivered as candidate for the state legislature, March 9, 1832

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As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, "Definition of Democracy", August 1, 1858

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Tags: democracy


As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, notes for a law lecture, July 1, 1850?

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