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The Living Lincoln: The Man, His Mind, His times, and the War He Fought, Reconstructed from His Own Writings

Edited by Paul M. Angle & Earl Schenck Miers 55-9955 1955

  • In a letter to his stepbrother: "If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere"--1851
  • In a speech in Peoria: "Finally, I insist, that if there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to the any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity, of their own liberties, and institutions." --1854
  • In a speech: "And now I appeal to all...are you really willing that the Declaration shall be thus frittered away" --thus left no more at most, than an interesting memorial of the dead past? thus shorn of its vitality, and practical value; and left without the germ or even the suggestion of the individual rights of man in it?" --1857
  • A letter to his son's friend on learning that he didn't get into Harvard: "Springfield, Ills. July 22, 1860 My Dear George, I have scarcely felt greater pain in my life than on learning yesterday from Bob's letter, that you had failed to enter Harvard University. And yet there is very little in it, if you will allow no feeling of discouragement to seize, and prey upon you. It is a certain truth, that you can enter, and graduate in, Harvard University; and having made the attempt, you must succeed in it. "Must" is the word.
    I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not.
    The president of the institution, can scarcely be other than a kind man; and doubtless he would grant you an interview, and point out the readiest way to remove, or overcome, the obstacles which have thwarted you.
    In your temporary failure, there is no evidence that you may not yet be a better scholar, and a more successful man in the great struggle of life, than many others, who have entered college more easily.
    Again I say let no feeling of discouragement pray upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.
    With more than a common interest I subscribe myself Very truly your friend, A. Lincoln.
  • State of the union address: "While the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government, in the short space of four years."--1861
  • In a letter to Capt James M Cutts: "The advice of a father to his son "Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee," is good, and yet not the best. 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 the vitiating of his temper, and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones, though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog, than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite." --1863
  • "It has long been a grave question whether any government not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies." --1864
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