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Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the 16th President of the United States, is considered one of history’s greatest leaders during times of crisis. During his tenure as president, he led the country through one of its darkest periods, the Civil War, and played an integral role in abolition.
Aside from his political achievements, Lincoln’s life was marked by struggle, hardship, and perseverance. He was a man of high character, integrity, and compassion.
Abraham Lincoln’s speeches were renowned for their eloquence and power because of his mastery of words and talent for crafting compelling statements. From his powerful rhetoric on democracy and equality to his famous address at Gettysburg, Lincoln’s words have become a source of wisdom and inspiration for people around the world.
In this post, I’ve shared 40 of the most memorable Abraham Lincoln quotes. I have also looked at their timeless wisdom and lessons that are as relevant today as they were over 150 years ago. So, let’s dive in and find out how Lincoln’s words live on!
40 Abraham Lincoln Quotes (Explained)
I am a slow walker,Abraham Lincoln
but I never walk back.
Progress isn’t always about moving fast or making rapid moves.
Never walking back indicates that we should stay committed to our goals, even if obstacles and setbacks slow us down on our way.
In other words…
We need not be the quickest or most skilled person, but we should be the one who never gives up or retreats from a challenge.
Whatever you are, be a good one.Abraham Lincoln
Regardless of your profession or role in life, you should aim to be the best at it. This means doing your best, being dedicated, and taking pride in your accomplishments.
By giving your best, no matter what people around you think about your work ethic, you can make a positive impact on yourself and your organization.
In the same way, being the best version of yourself will fill your personality with positive vibes.
To put it simply, you should always strive for excellence in your daily life.
Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.Abraham Lincoln
Our level of happiness is mainly determined by our mindset and attitude in life. A happy life is primarily driven by our own choices and not our external events or circumstances.
Think about it – the more we focus on the positive aspects of our lives, the more likely we are to be happy.
However, focusing on negative things will only lead to less happiness.
At the end of the day, making a conscious decision to have a positive outlook on life is all we need to do to be happy.
Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.Abraham Lincoln
Reading can help us realize that our thoughts are not as original or special as we imagined, but there are many people who have thought similar thoughts and ideas before us.
In spite of this, we shouldn’t let it discourage us from pursuing our own ideas.
Rather, this should encourage us to read more and learn from the wisdom of the past.
Therefore, books can serve as both a source of humility and inspiration, encouraging us to keep learning, growing, and contributing to the collective wisdom of humanity.
Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.Abraham Lincoln
Our perception of reality is shaped by our beliefs, attitudes, and expectations.
If we have a negative view of others, we will interpret their actions and words in a negative light, leading them to focus on the flaws and faults of other people.
In contrast, if we have a more positive outlook on others, we are more likely to see the good in them.
That’s why we shouldn’t judge or criticize people too quickly. As a result, we can build better relationships, more understanding, and more positivity in our lives.
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.Abraham Lincoln
Success comes from careful planning, deliberate action, and unwavering commitment.
Putting your feet in the right place means having a clear vision of your goals, carefully considering your options, and making intentional choices that align with your values and aspirations.
It is essential to take the time to assess every situation and decide how to proceed.
Once you have put your feet in the right place, it is equally crucial to stand firm. This means having the strength and resilience to carry on, despite challenges or uncertainty.
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.Abraham Lincoln
It is necessary to be honest and truthful in life because eventually, the truth will come to light, and people will see through the deception.
The statement can be related to various aspects of life, including politics, relationships, and business.
A politician, for instance, may deceive some people with false promises or propaganda, but the truth will eventually come out, and the deception will be exposed.
The truth will ultimately prevail, so it is best to be truthful from the get-go when we act and interact with others.
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.Abraham Lincoln
Even when things seem hopeless or you feel like giving up, there is always something you can do to hold on and keep moving forward.
The “end of your rope” means different things to different people. It could be a difficult situation, a personal crisis, or a feeling of being stuck in life.
Tying a knot and hanging on means finding a way to keep going, even when it feels like you’re hanging by a thread.
It could also mean seeking out support from friends and family, finding new solutions to old problems, or simply summoning the strength to keep going in the face of adversity.
The best way to predict your future is to create it.Abraham Lincoln
You have the power to shape your future through your actions and decisions. Instead of leaving it to the chance, take control and steer it in the direction you desire.
This means being proactive and taking responsibility for your own life.
Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, but actively seek them out and make the most of them. Don’t let setbacks or failures hold you back, but learn from them and use them as stepping stones to success.
In creating your future, you achieve your goals as well as develop a sense of purpose and meaning for your life.
Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.Abraham Lincoln
Your character represents your essence and values. They develop slowly over time, rooted in your experiences, beliefs, and choices.
In contrast, your reputation is like the shadow your character casts. It is the reflection of how others perceive you, based on your words and deeds.
As the tree remains the real thing, your character is the core of who you are.
So, in order to represent your best self, it is necessary to nurture your character.
All that I am or ever hope to be,Abraham Lincoln
I owe to my angel mother.
Abraham Lincoln had a challenging childhood. He grew up in poverty in a log cabin in rural Kentucky, and his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died when he was just nine years old.
Despite these challenges, Lincoln went on to become one of the greatest American presidents in history, known for his leadership during the Civil War and his commitment to ending slavery.
There is no doubt that our mothers are the unsung heroes in our lives, quietly shaping us into the people we will become. This quote demonstrates Lincoln’s acknowledgment that he owes both his success and his character to his mother’s love and guidance during his formative years.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.Abraham Lincoln
Imagine trying to chop down a tree with a dull axe. Obviously, you wouldn’t be able to accomplish the task in a timely manner, and it would be incredibly difficult and time-consuming.
When the axe is sharpened prior to chopping, it becomes much easier and more effective.
The same principle applies to any endeavor. In the end, taking your time to prepare and plan beforehand will make the task itself easier and more effective.
When it comes to success, preparation is just as important as hard work. To succeed, make sure you invest in preparation and planning.
I will prepare and some day my chance will come.Abraham Lincoln
Success is not just about luck or innate talent – It’s about putting in the hard work and preparation to be ready when opportunities arise.
It’s about staying focused on our goals and never giving up, even when challenges arise.
As Lincoln’s quote reminds us, we must prepare ourselves and be ready to seize the opportunities that are ours when they arise.
This will increase our chances of success.
The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.Abraham Lincoln
The future can often overwhelm us…
But we should stay grounded in the present and trust that every day will get us closer to where we want to be.
A traveler embarking on a long journey through a dense forest is oblivious to the path ahead as they take their first step, they realize that each step they take brings them closer to their destination.
So we should embrace the present moment and trust that, with patience and persistence, we will eventually succeed.
I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.Abraham Lincoln
Strict justice, while necessary in some cases, can sometimes be too harsh and unforgiving, causing more harm than good.
By showing mercy and understanding to others, we can create a more harmonious society, one that is built on a foundation of compassion and empathy.
The “richer fruits” that Lincoln referred to could be the positive outcomes that result from showing mercy, such as reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.
Showing mercy to others allows people to learn from their mistakes and become better versions of themselves, rather than living in shame and guilt.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Patience is admirable, but it’s not enough to achieve success.
The phrase “things left by those who hustle” implies that success belongs to those who are not content to sit back and wait, but rather take action to make things happen.
In other words, we must be proactive, take risks, and work hard to make our own luck.
Success comes to those who are willing to put in the effort and take advantage of the opportunities they create.
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.Abraham Lincoln
We must face our responsibilities head-on and deal with them in a timely and responsible manner. It’s tempting to avoid difficult situations or delay them as long as possible.
In reality, this only prolongs the issue and makes it more challenging to resolve in the future.
Simply put, we are responsible for our actions and decisions, and we must face them with courage rather than running away.
By doing so, we can become more productive, responsible, and successful individuals.
I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.Abraham Lincoln
Those who do not seek to gain wisdom every day are not fulfilling their potential.
Every day is an opportunity for growth and development, which is why we should reflect on our experiences, learn from our mistakes, and apply our newfound knowledge to improve ourselves.
We should also remember that knowledge and wisdom are not static concepts. What one knew yesterday may not be sufficient for today or tomorrow.
We must continue to seek new knowledge and perspectives to stay current and adapt to changing times.
You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.Abraham Lincoln
What we become angry about also speaks volumes about our priorities and beliefs.
A person who becomes angry about injustices, inequality, or cruelty toward others shows that they are likely empathetic and compassionate.
In contrast, someone who becomes angry about small inconveniences or trivial matters may not be as compassionate or empathic.
Although anger is a complex emotion that can be triggered by a variety of reasons, the way we react to it usually reveals our true nature.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.Abraham Lincoln
Imagine you’re a parent trying to teach your child how to ride a bicycle.
At first, you hold onto the bike and help your child balance as they pedal. However, as they start to gain confidence, you gradually let go and allow them to ride on their own. They eventually learn to ride without your assistance.
These words are a reminder that sometimes the best way to help someone is by empowering them to help themselves. It’s important to provide support and guidance, but ultimately, individuals must take responsibility for their own lives and actions.
By doing so, we can promote independence, self-reliance, and personal growth.
You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.Abraham Lincoln
In spite of how successful or accomplished your grandfather or ancestors were, you do not automatically inherit their traits or success.
You have to take responsibility for your own life and make your own way in the world.
You should be self-reliant. As an individual, you cannot rely solely on others’ achievements or resources but instead must take responsibility for your own growth and development to create your own legacy.
Remember, success is not inherited or given; it is earned through hard work, determination, and personal growth.
I am not concerned that you have fallen – I am concerned that you arise.Abraham Lincoln
To “fall” in life could mean many things: we might make mistakes, face rejection, experience loss, or encounter any number of challenges.
These experiences can be painful and discouraging, but they are also opportunities to become a little bit stronger, a little bit more capable, and a little bit more resilient.
In general, we should approach life with a growth mindset.
Instead of dwelling on our failures, we should move forward with our goals.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln believed that the United States was at crossroads, with the issue of slavery threatening to tear the country apart.
He recognized that the nation could not continue to exist as “permanently half slave and half free,”.
He believed that the nation had the strength and resilience to overcome its differences and emerge stronger, provided slavery was resolved.
In modern times, these words remind us that unity and solidarity are essential for any society to thrive and that we must work together to address the issues that threaten to divide us.
We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.Abraham Lincoln
It is important not to be easily offended by the words or actions of others. It takes grace to rise above insults, criticisms, or provocations and respond with calmness and reason instead of anger or resentment.
Choosing how to respond to other people’s opinions and behaviors requires understanding that they are not necessarily reflections of our own.
To be “too noble to give offense” means that we should strive to treat others with respect and kindness, even when they show hostility or disrespect.
We can do so by setting aside our own egos and desires for revenge. In essence, we should be bigger than our minor grievances.
You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough.Abraham Lincoln
You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.
Having a passion for something is the first step toward achieving it.
When we truly want something, we persevere despite obstacles and setbacks, refusing to give up until we achieve it.
Of course, simply having a desire is not enough. To achieve our goals, we must also be willing to work hard and sacrifice.
Our purpose must also remain focused and committed even when the journey is difficult.
The ballot is stronger than the bullet.Abraham Lincoln
Democracy, which provides people with the freedom to choose their leaders, is more powerful than violence.
This means that a single vote has the potential to influence the outcome of an election, and ultimately, the direction of a nation.
Violence is never the answer when it comes to political change. Instead, Lincoln believed in the power of the ballot box and encouraged citizens to use their voices to create change.
A society that operates through peaceful means has a greater chance of creating lasting, positive change, and that democracy provides a framework for achieving this.
If there is anything that links the human to the divine, it is the courage to stand by a principle when everybody else rejects it.Abraham Lincoln
As humans, we often find ourselves influenced by the opinions and actions of those around us. The pressure to conform to societal norms or follow the crowd can feel overwhelming, even if it goes against what we believe is right.
When we stand up for what we believe in, we are asserting our independence and showing that we have the strength and conviction to follow our own moral compass.
It can be challenging, especially when others criticize or reject us, but ultimately it makes us unique.
That’s why by standing firm in our principles, we demonstrate a kind of courage that is not just admirable but also divine.
Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.Abraham Lincoln
Commitment has the power to transform a mere promise into reality.
By making a commitment, we show the world we’re committed to completing the task.
As long as we stay committed, we will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, knowing that we have accomplished our goal.
As a result, we will become more confident in ourselves, knowing we have the power to make our promises a reality.
Get books, sit yourself down anywhere,Abraham Lincoln
and go to reading them yourself.
In our fast-paced world, where instant gratification and digital distractions reign supreme, reading books may seem like a lost art. We are bombarded with information from all sides, but not much of that information is truly meaningful.
Reading allows us to take a step back from the noise of modern life and immerse ourselves in the wisdom and knowledge books provide.
It is not just a hobby, but a habit that can shape our lives and make us better human beings.
So, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of everyday life, grab a book and immerse within yourself.
The man who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.
These words highlight the absurdity of a hypocrite’s behavior and the importance of being honest.
It is a powerful reminder that actions speak louder than words.
People should take responsibility for their actions, instead of using excuses or justifications to avoid facing the consequences.
If friendship is your weakest point then you are the strongest person in the world.Abraham Lincoln
Friendship is a beautiful thing that can bring joy, happiness, and support into our lives.
It can, however, also be a source of vulnerability. As a result, we can feel weak and exposed.
However, the ability to form and maintain strong, meaningful friendships is a sign of emotional intelligence, empathy, and social skills.
In this sense, having strong friendships can actually be a sign of strength.
You can’t make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak.Abraham Lincoln
We can’t make someone stronger by weakening or belittling another person. It is essential to empower people by developing their own strengths rather than bringing others down.
Whether it be in relationships, business, or politics, we can’t achieve progress by tearing down our opponents.
Instead, we should strive to build ourselves up while respecting others’ strengths and contributions.
To sum it up, we should focus on positive, constructive efforts that benefit everyone.
The use of force may appear to be the quickest and most effective solution to a problem, but it often leads to new problems.
It is because force is typically accompanied by a disregard for others’ needs and concerns, leading to resentment, hostility, and resistance.
In contrast, lasting solutions often require the cooperation of all parties involved in order to be sustainable and effective.
Although it may take more time and effort, this approach is more likely to result in lasting success and positive outcomes for all parties.
Life is hard but so very beautiful.Abraham Lincoln
The true beauty of life lies in the small moments of joy and happiness that we experience.
Although these beautiful aspects of life may seem insignificant in comparison to the challenges we face, they are what make life worth living.
Moreover, the beauty of life is often found in the growth that comes from overcoming obstacles and facing adversity.
Life isn’t always easy, but it’s still beautiful and precious.
You cannot have the right to do what is wrong!Abraham Lincoln
There is a thin line between individual freedoms and ethical responsibility.
At its core, this quote speaks to the idea that we must always consider the broader implications of our actions and decisions. We cannot simply focus on our own individual rights without taking into account how those actions impact others around us.
In today’s world, where the line between right and wrong can often seem blurry, Lincoln’s words serve as a powerful reminder of our responsibility to act with integrity and to make decisions based on our principles, not just our self-interest.
They challenge us to consider the impact of our actions and to strive for a better, more just society.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.Abraham Lincoln
We often feel pressure to speak up in a group or during a conversation, especially if we want to appear knowledgeable or impressive.
However, if you don’t truly understand the topic at hand, speaking up could actually undermine your credibility and damage your reputation.
Sometimes saying nothing at all can be more impactful than speaking, particularly when you’re unsure of what to say or how to say it.
Silence can convey humility, respect, and willingness to learn from others.
If slavery is not wrong,Abraham Lincoln
nothing is wrong.
It is the ultimate expression of exploitation and domination over other human beings.
It strips individuals of their freedom, dignity, and humanity, reducing them to mere property that can be bought, sold, and used at the whim of their owners.
This practice is morally inexcusable and fundamentally incompatible with the principles of equality, freedom, and justice that underpin our society.
That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.Abraham Lincoln
Success is an attainable goal, it is not something that is reserved for the privileged or lucky few.
By acknowledging the success of others, we can become inspired and motivated to achieve our goals and aspirations.
The success of others can also inspire us to pursue our own dreams, even in the face of setbacks or challenges.
Remember, success is not a zero-sum game, where one person’s success comes at the expense of another’s failure, it is a collaborative effort.
In the end,Abraham Lincoln
it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.
Our existence is not measured by the length of time we have on this earth, but instead, by the quality of our experiences.
It’s not just about living a long life but living a life full of purpose, passion, and joy.
Our time on this earth is limited, so we must live our lives to the fullest and make the most out of every moment.
We should strive to create meaningful memories, cultivate deep relationships, and pursue our dreams and aspirations with enthusiasm and determination.
Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.Abraham Lincoln
By procrastinating our daily tasks, we not only delay the inevitable but also delay progress to achieve new goals. We become prisoners of our own indecision, forever stuck in a cycle of inaction that eventually breeds frustration, stress, and regret.
That’s why if we want to succeed in life, we must take action, whether it’s a small task or a major project. By doing so, we’ll not only get things done but also build the momentum and confidence we need to tackle even bigger challenges down the road.
Now, this is easier said than done. Overcoming procrastination requires discipline, self-awareness, and a willingness to face our fears and doubts.
But it is what leads us to greater productivity, better time management, improved mental health, and a greater sense of accomplishment.
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