Thursday, February 12, 2009

God Bless You, Mr. Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865

I first visited the cabin in which Abraham Lincoln was born when I was about six years old. I really don’t remember the details of the visit—other than a lingering question in my mind: why did someone build a building around a building?

Since then, I have visited Lincoln’s Birthday Place National Site dozens of times. After all, it’s located less than 60 miles from Louisville. (59.7 miles from my house). It’s a neat little park, for picnicking and other (x-rated) things: I apologize, Mr. President, for making love at midnight on the grass in front of your birth place some 40 or so years ago. Of course, with your astounding grace, I rather suspect that you forgive me and even wink at me.

As a fellow Kentuckian whose birthday is but two days after his, I have read thousands of pages about President Lincoln. And with each page my respect and admiration has increased. So, today as a small celebration of the life of the Sixteenth President of the United States, allow me to share just of few of the words of President Abraham Lincoln:

"I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."

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

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."

"You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us."

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

"...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."

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

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser - in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.”

"The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and of generosity."

"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."

"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.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!"

"...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 this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

"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."

Abe Lincoln reads the Bible to his son, Tad

I don’t know where you plan to click to next. May I suggest that you continue the celebration of President Lincoln’s birthday by following THIS LINK to Kat’s blog, Keep the Coffee Coming, and invest a couple of minutes listening to this grand song celebrating the grace of President Lincoln on the occasion of the ending of the Civil War, Let the Band Play Dixie.


  1. hrmm.. very interesting... Charles darwin had the same birthday as Lincon, same date and year. Very interesting...

  2. Xmichra : Thank you for the information. I didn’t know that February 12th was also Darwin’s birthday.

  3. What a crafty way to get us to say Happy Birthday on the 14th!

  4. Jinksy : I’ve been writing about my birthday for the past 3 weeks!

  5. D'you know, Nick, those words of Lincoln's apply just as well today as they did in his time. I especially like the one about do not litigate, compromise. A pity people don't do that nowadays.

    Yes, Mr Lincoln could teach us a lot...if we were prepared to listen.

    Great post, Nick, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  6. He surely was one of the greats Nick. I watched a two hour program on Lincoln on PBS last night. I learned a lot I never knew before.

    I too have visited the Lincoln monument in Washington and found it quite a moving place. What a setting that is, as one looks from the monument along to the Capital.

    So many wonderful things to see in Washington DC and I am not even an American. But I loved my week there and would go back again most willingly.

  7. Puss-in-Boots : Thank you! Yes, Lincoln’s words certainly can be applied today as well as in his day. His thoughts/words regarding compromise I hear echoed in the philosophy of President Barak Obama.

    jmb : I fully concur: Abe Lincoln was one of the great human beings to ever live. I, too, watched last night’s PBS presentation on Lincoln and tonight’s as well. It reminded me personally that I, as one who, like Lincoln, has suffered from depression/melancholia/ or whatever one wants to call it, that one can function and achieve while carrying the burden of melancholia. I also noted that I, again like Lincoln, find great enjoyment in music, humor, and the theater.

    When I was an army officer, I was assigned to the Military District of Washington (D.C.). I visited the Lincoln Memorial several times and found a wonderful peace in standing before that huge statue of the seated President Lincoln and looking up into the image’s eyes.

    Carol: Thank you. I’ll admit that I spent quite a bit of time creating this post and even after I out it up continued to make changes in it. I would still be making additional changes—adding more—had I not said to my self, “That’s enough, Nick! You have other projects to do, too.”

  8. Thank you, Nick. I have never before read the words of President Lincoln. Except for the Gettysberg Address, of course.

  9. Abby: I am happy the you enjoyed President Lincoln’s words.

  10. Very nice post, my favorite President. Happy Birthday to you and also Happy Valentine's day.

  11. My favorite quote: "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."

    Fascinating human being.
    Thank you and speaking of YOU....

    Standing. Pencil Skirt blowing in the wind (think Marilyn) Clearing throat. Singing. (for tomorrow)

    "Happy birthday to you....Happy birthday to you....Happy birthday dear Nick....Happy birthday to you!"

    Stepping down.

  12. Wonderful quotes! It used to bother me that people called Illinois the land of Lincoln. I suppose he spent more time there, but yes, he was born in Kentucky.

  13. They should put another historical marker out front: "On this spot, forty years ago…"


  14. Lincoln was very wise - thanks for posting these great quotes.