Famous Abraham Lincoln Quotes

These Abraham Lincoln quotes showcase the wit and wisdom of the 16th president of the United States of America.

The writer of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln preserved the Union during the American Civil War and was instrumental in bringing emancipation to enslaved people in the U.S.

His humble origins – having been raised in a frontier log cabin – and his dramatic assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth provide a compelling start and a dramatic end to the fascinating life of Lincoln.

Having overcome many setbacks in his 56 years of living, Lincoln’s words, captured in the quotations below, speak to his deep understanding of people, leadership, and life.

You may also enjoy our 85 quotations for President’s Day.

Best Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Whatever you are, be a good one.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

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

Knavery and flattery are blood relations.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.

Don’t swap horses in crossing a stream.

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

Good Abraham Lincoln quotes.

Funny Abe Lincoln Sayings

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.

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

A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.

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

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

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

Marriage is neither heaven nor hell. It is simply purgatory.

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

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

When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.

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

I learned a great many years ago that in a fight between husband and wife, a third party should never get between the woman’s skillet and the man’s ax-helve.

You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.

Inspirational Thoughts

Here are some inspirational Abraham Lincoln quotes and sayings.

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

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

My great concern is not whether you have failed but whether you are content with your failure.

There is another old poet whose name I do not now remember who said, “Truth is the daughter of Time.”

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.

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

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

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.

It really hurts me very much to suppose that I have wronged anybody on earth.

Best Abraham Lincoln Sayings

Famous Insights

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and to the young, it comes with bitterest agony because it takes them unawares. I have had experience enough to know what I say.

If a man says he knows a thing, then he must show how he knows it.

Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed.

I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be a humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.

True patriotism is better than the wrong kind of piety.

Tip: Some of these Abraham Lincoln quotes make great photo captions on social media.

Quotes About Mother

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I ever met.

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.

Beavers build houses, but they build them in nowise differently, or better now, than they did, five thousand years ago. Ants, and honeybees, provide food for winter; but just in the same way they did, when Solomon referred the sluggard to them as patterns of prudence.

Man is not the only animal who labors, but he is the only one who improves his workmanship.

On Work

You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm.

We shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it.

Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible.

Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.

Labor is a great source from which nearly all, if not all, human comforts and necessities are drawn.

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

On Life

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

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

There can be glory in failure and despair in success.

Never regret what you don’t write.

Everybody likes a compliment.

The secret to success is preparation.

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

Freedom is the last, best hope of earth.

The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him.

Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.

Bad promises are better broken than kept.

All creation is a mine, and every man a miner.

In this troublesome world, we are never quite satisfied.

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

Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.

Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.

Common-looking people quote by Lincoln


Love is the chain to lock a child to its parent.

I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.

My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.

My father taught me to work but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh – anything but work.

I would rather be a little nobody than to be an evil somebody.

No man is poor who has a Godly mother.

There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

I have a congenital aversion to failure.

Every man’s happiness is his own responsibility.

You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.

There you have it — Honest Abe at his best!

Abraham Lincoln Internet Quote — incorrectly attributed

“The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy.”
Abraham Lincoln, 1864 (frequently seen on Facebook posts)

Abraham Lincoln’s Quotes On Friends

I don’t like that man. I’m going to have to get to know him better.

Let bygones be bygones; let past differences as nothing be.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

It is an old and a true maxim that a ‘drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.

On Leadership

It would seem the man who preserved the Union during the U.S. Civil War would know a thing or two about leadership. These Abraham Lincoln quotes won’t disappoint.

In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.

Nothing valuable can be lost by taking the time.

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it.

When I am 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 about him and what he is going to say.

Property is the fruit of labor; property is desirable; it is a positive good in the world.

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.

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.


As a man who worked through a lot of setbacks, you’ll find some pearls of wisdom in these Abraham Lincoln quotes.

All my life, I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.

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

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

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

That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

No man is good enough to govern another man without the other’s consent.

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all.

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

We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.

What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.


Everyone desires to live long, but no one would be old.

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

I am nothing. Truth is everything.

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

Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.

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

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

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

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.

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

Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then — find the way.


Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.

I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

A tendency to melancholy… let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.

I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.

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

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

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

There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite.

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.

On Religion

These Abraham Lincoln quotes address the 16th President’s spirituality.

In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book.

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

What I did, I did after very full deliberation and under a heavy and solemn sense of responsibility. I can only trust in God that I have made no mistake.

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.

Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in His own good time, will give us the rightful result.

On Politics

These Abraham Lincoln quotes cover the topic of politics and politicians.

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

I can make a general in five minutes, but a good horse is too hard to replace.

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?

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

I do the very best I know how – the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.

You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm.

Thoughtful men must feel that the fate of civilization upon this continent is involved in the issue of our contest.


The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, the hope of earth.

Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it.

Let your military measures be strong enough to repel the invader and keep the peace, and not so strong as to unnecessarily harass and persecute the people.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Here’s the text of Lincoln’s most famous speech, The Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this 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.

Lincoln’s Poem

At age 16 or 17 years old, Lincoln penned the following poem:

Abraham Lincoln
His hand and pen,
He will be good but
God knows when.

Abraham Lincoln FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about Abraham Lincoln.

What did Abraham Lincoln think about writing?

His thoughts on writing are best expressed in this Lincoln quote, “Writing, the art of communicating thoughts to the mind through the eye, is the great invention of the world… enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances and space.”

Why is Abraham Lincoln considered a great president by historians?

He preserved the union in the civil war, abolished slavery, and strengthened the federal government. Lincoln’s rise from his frontier cabin upbringing to the 16th President of the United States is impressive.

What was Abraham Lincoln’s secret talent?

Lincoln could wrestle. In 12 years of competing, he only lost once. Standing 6’4″ tall and with great strength, he presented a match-up nightmare for most of his competitors. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame gave him an “Outstanding American” award.

What are some of Abraham Lincoln’s nicknames?

Honest Abe, The Rail Splitter, Old Abe, Father Abraham, The Ancient One, The Great Emancipator, The Liberator, The Tycoon, Uncle Abe, and Uncle Abraham.

I hope you enjoyed these sayings and quotes from Honest Abe.

By Mike O’Halloran

Mike is the founder and editor of Greeting Card Poet.

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