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Abraham Lincoln Quotations

picture of Lincoln

Today is the 200th birthday of two famous men - Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. I was surprised (but probably shouldn't have been...) to see which of the two men Google chose to highlight – Darwin. I decided to honor President Lincoln by sharing some well-known and not-so-well-known quotations from him. Some of them are quite powerful, while others show that he had a highly developed sense of humor.

Quotations from Abraham Lincoln

A woman is the only thing that I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.

What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

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

When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run.

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.

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

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 happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has.

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?

I have stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me, and in the arrangement I have the best of the bargain.

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, "And this, too, shall pass away."

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.

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

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.

No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.

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

Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.


Do you have a favorite quotation from Abe Lincoln to share or a comment to make on one of these quotations?


"I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side." - Abraham Lincoln

=^..^= =^..^=

"He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met." - Abraham Lincoln

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17 Comments on “Abraham Lincoln Quotations”

  1. #1 Dahv
    on Feb 12th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I have often heard the quote “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt,” but have often been unsuccessful in putting it into practice. I think that quote (along with others) may have Biblical roots . . . hmm. 🙂

    first comment again!

  2. #2 David McGuire
    on Feb 12th, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Two Civil War quotes from Abraham Lincoln:

    Concerning his reluctant first general George McClellan: “McClellan is always almost ready to fight.”

    And then there was U.S. Grant, who was criticized for significant numbers of casualties: “At least Grant fights!”

  3. #3 Rob
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 6:16 am

    @Dahv – Ah yes, ’tis probably true of most of us, at least from time to time. FĂ©licitations on being the first to comment again!

    @David – Those are good ones. There’s another famous Lincoln quotation on Grant that I left off the list. Grant must have been one flamboyant character!

  4. #4 Andrew
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 7:42 am

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

    Very shrewd. Would that our current president understood this idea.

  5. #5 Deb
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 8:41 am

    I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~ Abraham Lincoln

    Being a mother, I’d like for my children to be able to say that, too.

  6. #6 Michael W.
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 9:12 am

    My comment on the quote which goes “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly” may be found at http://www.constantconservative.com/2009/lincolns-thought

  7. #7 Michael
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    To McClellan: “Would you mind if I borrowed the army for a little while?” McClellan was notorious for not wanting to go into battle because he was always afraid he would be outnumbered — not something any Union general needed to be worried about during the war.

  8. #8 Rob
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    @Andrew – Point well made, Andrew.

    @Michael W. – I like what you’ve written in your post on Lincoln. Thanks for linkin’ Lincoln.

    @Michael – That’s a great quotation too. It shows Lincoln’s keen sense of irony and his gentle, yet pointed sarcasm.

  9. #9 Nancy
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    This is my favorite Lincoln Quote…. (I had a pillow with it imprinted on it and now have a framed print.)

    “All that I am or ever shall hope to be, I owe to my loving angel mother. God bless her.”

  10. #10 Roy Hooper
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Remember Psalm 104 and “Wings of the Wind.” If you haven’t already read the full chapter, do so … a blessing is in store. That’s what I did to “celebrate” Darwin’s birthday.

    Scientists are bemoaning the development going on the Galapagos Islands, stating that “evidence” of evolution is being lost. I am so thankful that evidence of our Creator’s handiwork will never be lost and is all around us.

  11. #11 Rob
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    @Nancy – I had read that quotation before, but I didn’t have it on file. Thanks for adding that this this post.

    @Roy – Thanks for the reminder to read that chapter. I just did, and WOW! In addition to the magnificence of our wonderful Creator extolled in that chapter, verse 33 really grabbed me, especially as we prepare to this that song in choir: “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”

  12. #12 Ann
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    My favorite quote of Lincoln’s has long been… ”It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

  13. #13 Rob
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    @Ann – I love that one too. I had heard it several times before, but I didn’t know that it originated with Lincoln.

  14. #14 Heather
    on Feb 13th, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    @Michael – Didn’t Lincoln justify his request to borrow the army by reminding McClellan that he wasn’t using it anyway? I have a fuzzy memory of something along those lines, but I’m not sure.

  15. #15 Ray
    on Feb 14th, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Thank you Rob for posting some of Lincoln’s quotes on his birthday.

    I was saddened, but not surprised that Google celebrated Darwin’s birthday and not Lincoln’s. I guess that Google would rather promote a racist than an emancipator. All one has to do is read the entire cover of his famed book “on the origin of species” to see that it also involved the “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. While racism is nothing new in the last 200 years (just read the Old Testament), it was made “scientific” by Darwin and his adherents. Also, most of what he promoted has been proven wrong with new discoveries. His teachings lead to the abuses of the Aboriginal peoples including bringing “specimens” home to England to be put on public display because they were viewed as less evolved than the Europeans and were therefore without souls.

    Here’s a two telling quotes about Darwin’s “theory” and what is at the root of evolution – pseudo-science based on a philosophy:

    “One is forced to conclude that many scientists and technologists pay lip-service to Darwinian theory only because it supposedly excludes a creator” – Dr. Michael Walker, Senior Lecturer—Anthropology, Sydney University, Quadrant, October 1982, page 44.


    “Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.” – G. Richard Bozarth, “The Meaning of Evolution,” American Atheist, p. 30. 20 September 1979.

    This may be a bit heavy, but these quotes show the intellectual dishonesty and atheistic bent (not scientific) the followers of Darwin show with their own words.

  16. #16 Rob
    on Feb 14th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    @Ray – I certainly have no esteem for Darwin, nor for his followers. Thanks for what you shared.


  1. Lincoln’s Thought | Constant Conservative