My 10 Favorite Lincoln Quotes

In my years working at Ford’s, I’ve enjoyed seeing the many ways that visitors and donors connect with President Lincoln’s words.

Lincoln gives the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863. Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-19926.

Hearing and reading Lincoln's words can have a profound impact on people – no matter what part of the country they are from, their age, or their gender. 

These are 10 Lincoln quotes that have stood out to me throughout my time at Ford’s: 

1.  An age-old classic: 

We cannot escape history.

From Lincoln's Annual Address to Congress in 1862 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5, p. 538)

2.  Some words of motivation:

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

From a letter that Lincoln wrote to Isham Reavis in 1855 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2, p. 328)

3.  A reminder of the generations to come:

The struggle of today is not altogether for today – it is for the vast future also.

From Lincoln's Annual Address to Congress in 1861 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5, p. 54)

4.  Inspiration to do good:

I have an irrepressible desire to live till I can be assured that the world is a little better for my having lived in it.

From a poem Lincoln wrote about his battle with mental health, according to Lincoln's close friend, Joshua Speed (Michael Burlingame's Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Volume 1, p. 548)

5.  A reminder of what’s important:

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

From a letter that Lincoln wrote to Joseph Gillespie in 1849 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2, p. 58)

6.  Appreciation for those who raised us:

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

William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner, told two biographers that Lincoln made this remark (Josiah Holland's The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 23 and George Alfred Townsend's The Real Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 6)

7.  On the importance of perseverance:

I say 'try'; if we never try, we shall never succeed.

From a letter that Lincoln wrote to General George McClellan in 1862 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5, p. 462)

8.  When you’re feeling grateful:

I have received nothing but kindness at your hands.

From Lincoln's Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois in 1861 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 4, p. 191)

9.  In remembrance of those who served:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus so far nobly advanced.
From the Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 7, p. 23)

10. One of Lincoln’s greatest hits:

With malice towards none, with charity for all... let us strive on to finish the work we are in.

-From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, given March 4, 1865 (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 8, p. 333)

Which of these is your favorite? Vote on your favorite quote in our online poll and the top quotes will appear on our annual commemorative gift!

 

Diane Barber is Membership Manager at Ford’s Theatre. She loves sharing her passion for history with others, especially Ford’s Theatre Members.