Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Abraham Lincoln

American Lawyer and Politician, 16th President of the United States

"If all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need of government."

"If we could know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it."

"Important principles may, and must, be inflexible."

"It is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals."

"It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him."

"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us dare to do our duty as we understand it."

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

"No man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent."

"Public opinion is founded to a great extent on a property basis. What lessens the value of the property is opposed, what enhances its value is favored."

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."

"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. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves."

"The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty."

"The struggle of today is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also."

"The will of God prevails. In great contests, each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same things at the same time."

"To be fruitful in invention, it is indispensable to have a habit of observation and reflection."

"To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labor, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government."

"Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored… It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction."

"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that his nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

"You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time."

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today."

"You must remember that some things that are legally right are not morally right."

"Take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance, upon faith and you will live and die a better man."

"When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.""

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing."

"Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there."

"Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

"Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition ... I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed by my fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem."

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."

"I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know who his grandson will be."

"I do not think much of a man who does not know more today than he did yesterday."

"It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself."

"The authors of that notable instrument [the Declaration of Independence] intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what respects they did consider all men created equal--equal with "certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This they said and this they meant."

"It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong."

"There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending."

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

"Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today."