As a boy in grade school, I remember that nearly every classroom displayed a picture of George Washington, and most displayed a likeness of Abraham Lincoln; Washington for his role in establishing the Union and Lincoln for his role in preserving it. They were both wise and good men who played well their essential roles during difficult and trying times.
If ever the Union needed preserving, it stands in need today. The following are some quotations that give insights into the heart and soul of Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents. I believe they still have relevance for us today:
History is not history unless it is the truth.
It has been said of the world’s history hitherto that “might makes right.” It is for us and for our time to reverse the maxim and to say, “right makes might.”
In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and to the young it comes with bitterest agony because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.
The power of hope upon human exertion and happiness is wonderful.
The Lord prefers common looking people. That is the reason He makes so many of them.
I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, to die by.
The Presidency, even to the most experienced politicians, is no bed of roses.
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.
As an individual undertakes to live by borrowing, he soon finds his original means destroyed by interest, and next, no one left to borrow from. So must it be with government.
Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.
If we do right, God will be with us, and if God is with us, we cannot fail.
Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.
A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be.
Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed.
We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.
The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.
Half finished work generally proves to be labor lost.
It is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters who chose to vote, that constitute the political power of the State.
The loss of enemies does not compensate for the loss of friends.
Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty.
We know nothing of what will happen in the future, but by the analogy of past experience.
Important principles may and must be flexible.
War does not admit of holidays.
Wanting to work is so rare a want it should be encouraged.
I insist that if there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people never to entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own liberties and institutions.
Let us all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.
It is much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself in favor of citizens as it is to administer the same between private parties.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by initiating class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive 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 orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Die when I may, I want it said of me, by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.