Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Abraham Lincoln

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

"He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help."

"I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday."

"It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices, have very few virtues."

"Moral principle is a looser bond than pecuniary interest."

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

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

"We hold the power and bear the responsibility."

"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 widow, and his orphans - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

"Although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery is a good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself."

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

"Avoid popularity, if you would have peace."

"Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets."

"I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day."

"If at any time all labor should cease, and all existing provision be equally divided among the people, at the end of a single year there could scarcely be one human being left alive - all would have perished by want of subsistence... Universal idleness would speedily result in universal ruin; and ... useless labor is, in this respect, the same as idleness."

"If ever this free people, if this government itself is ever utterly demoralized, it will come from this human wriggle and struggle for office - that is, a way to live without work."

"If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem."

"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong."

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

"If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend."

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

"It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river."

"It is the man who does not want to express his opinion whose opinion I want."

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

"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."

"Let the people know the truth and the country is safe."

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

"My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it."

"No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty - none less inclined to take, or touch, ought which they have not honestly earned."

"Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time."

"Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks, and imitations, 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."

"Politics, as a trade, finds most and leaves nearly all dishonest."

"Public opinion, though often formed upon a wrong basis, yet generally has a strong underlying sense of justice."

"Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including vitiating of his temper, and the loss of self control."

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."

"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."

"The better part of one's life consists of his friendships."

"The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere."

"Things may come to those that wait, but only the things left by those who hustle."

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."

"This is a world of compensation; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it."

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? ... Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us... Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

"When I'm getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say - and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say."

"When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is despotism... No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."

"Where slavery is, there liberty cannot be; and where liberty is, there slavery cannot be."

"Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?"

"With the catching end the pleasures of the chase."

"`Tis not without reason that [Man] seeks out and is willing to join in Society with others who are already united or have a mind to unite for the mutual Preservation of their Lives, Liberties and Estates, which I call by the general Name, Property. The great and chief end, therefore, of Men’s uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of Property."

"How miserably things seem to be arranged in this world! If we have no friends, we have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose them, and be doubly pained by the loss."

"Fourscore and seven years ago our father brought forth upon this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me."