American General, 18th President of the United States
"There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword."
"Laws are to govern all alike - those opposed as well as those who favor them. I know of no method to repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."
"Too long denial of guaranteed right is sure to lead to revolution - bloody revolution, where suffering must fall upon the innocent as well as the guilty."
"Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any fondness for war, and I have never advocated it except as a means of peace."
"As the United States is the freest of all nations, so, too, its people sympathize with all people struggling for liberty and self-government; but while so sympathizing it is due to our honor that we should abstain from enforcing our views upon unwilling nations and from taking an interested part, without invitation, in the quarrels between different nations or between governments and their subjects. Our course should always be in conformity with strict justice and law, international and local."
"As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris' camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The lesson was valuable."
"But for a soldier his duty is plain. He is to obey the orders of all those placed over him and whip the enemy wherever he meets him."
"But this war was a fearful lesson, and should teach us the necessity of avoiding wars in the future."
"Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves."
"Everyone has his superstitions. One of mine has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, never to turn back or to stop until the thing intended was accomplished."
"I am not aware of ever having used a profane expletive in life; but I would have the charity to excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack mules."
"I appreciate the fact, and am proud of it, that the attentions I am receiving are intended more for our country than for me personally."
"I believe that our Great Maker is preparing the world in His own good time to become one nation, speaking one language, when armies and navies will no longer be required."
"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.""
"I ask patient forbearance one toward another throughout the land, and a determined effort on the part of every citizen to do his share toward cementing a happy union; and I ask the prayers of the nation to Almighty God in behalf of this consummation."
"I did not ask for place or position, and was entirely without influence or the acquaintance of persons of influence, but was resolved to perform my part in a struggle threatening the very existence of the nation."
"I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail."
"I don't believe in strategy in the popular understanding of the term. I use it to get up just as close to the enemy as practicable, with as little loss of life as possible. Then, up guards, and at 'em.--In a conversation."
"I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to Let us have peace. The expression of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section of the country, nor to a division of the people. They came from individual citizens of all nationalities; from all denominations — the Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from the various societies of the land — scientific, educational, religious or otherwise. Politics did not enter into the matter at all. I am not egotist enough to suppose all this significance should be given because I was the object of it. But the war between the States was a very bloody and a very costly war. One side or the other had to yield principles they deemed dearer than life before it could be brought to an end. I commanded the whole of the mighty host engaged on the victorious side. I was, no matter whether deservedly so or not, a representative of that side of the controversy. It is a significant and gratifying fact that Confederates should have joined heartily in this spontaneous move. I hope the good feeling inaugurated may continue to the end."
"I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse."
"I had known General Lee in the old army, and had served with him in the Mexican War; but did not suppose, owing to the difference in our age and rank, that he would remember me, while I would more naturally remember him distinctly, because he was the chief of staff of General Scott in the Mexican War."
"I have acted in every instance from a conscientious desire to do what was right, constitutional, withint the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people. Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.--At the end of his second term."
"I have made it a rule of my life to trust a man long after other people gave him up, but I don t see how I can ever trust any human being again."
"I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the special regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officers at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department, but they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel anywhere. They will land at any woodyard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves, they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold."
"I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."
"I leave comparisons to history, claiming only that I have acted in every instance from a conscientious desire to do what was right, constitutional, within the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people. Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent."
"I never held a council of war in my life. I heard what men had to say--the stream of talk at headquarters,--but I made up my own mind, and from my written orders my staff got their first knowledge of what was to be done. No living man knew of plans until they matured and decided.--In a conversation."
"I never knew what to do with a paper except to put it in a side pocket or pass it to a clerk who understood it better than I did."
"I never learned to swear ... I could never see the use of swearing ... I have always noticed ... that swearing helps to rouse a man's anger."
"I never liked service in the army. I did not wish to go to West Point. My father had use his authority to make me go. I never went into a battle willingly or with enthusiasm. I never want to command another army. It was only after Donelson that I began to see how important was the work that Providence devolved upon me. I did not want to be made lieutenant-general. I did not want the presidency, and have never quite forgiven myself for resigning the command of the army to accept it.--In a conversation."
"I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of North Virginia on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside."
"I see from the papers that my name has been sent in for Brigadier General. This is certainly very complimentary to me particularly as I have never asked a friend to intercede in my behalf. Hearing that I was likely to be promoted, the officers, with great unanimity have requested to be attached to my command. This I ‘don't’ want you to read to others for I very much dislike speaking of myself."
"I thought this would be about the last battle of the war — I sincerely hoped so; and I said further I took it that most of the men in the ranks were small farmers. The whole country had been so raided by the two armies that it was doubtful whether they would be able to put in a crop to carry themselves and their families through the next winter without the aid of the horses they were then riding. The United States did not want them and I would, therefore, instruct the officers I left behind to receive the paroles of his troops to let every man of the Confederate army who claimed to own a horse or mule take the animal to his home. Lee remarked again that this would have a happy effect."
"I travelled through the Northwest considerably during the winter of 1860-61. We had customers in all the little towns in southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa. These generally knew I had been a captain in the regular army and had served through the Mexican war. Consequently wherever I stopped for the night, some of the people would come to the public house where I was, and sit till a late hour discussing the probabilities of the future."
"I rise only to say that I do not intend to say anything. I thank you for your hearty welcomes and good cheers."
"I would not distress these people. They are feeling their defeat bitterly, and you would not add to it by my witnessing their despair, would you?--To his wife, when she asked if he would make an appearance in Richmond."
"If chosen to fill the high office for which you have selected me, I will give to its duties the same energy, the same spirit and the same will that I have given to the performance of all duties wich have devolved upon me heretofore. Whether I shall be able to perform these duties to your entire satisfaction time will determine.--As he is nominated"