Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln Quotes
Lincoln often utilized his eloquent speech to emphasize his beliefs on slavery

  • In the words of Elihu Root, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, "Lincoln never made the mistake of using words -- either oral or written -- merely for his own satisfaction. Many fine sentiments are uttered about public affairs which are not really designed to have an effect upon anybody except the speaker and the writer...Lincoln never made this mistake. When he spoke, his objective was always the mid of somebody else."                      -Elihu Root

  • From Lincoln's speech in Ottawa: "...there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects--certainly not in color...but in his right to eat the bread,  without the leave of anyone else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man."                  -Abraham Lincoln

  • Regarding both sides of slavery: "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."               -Abraham Lincoln

  • From a speech in Chicago delivered on July 1oth, 1858: "Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man -- this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position.... Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal."                         -Abraham Lincoln

  • Lincoln's view on the difficulties of equality: "There is a physical difference between the two which in my judgement will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality."                -Abraham Lincoln

  • In Lincoln's fourth debate in Charleston: "I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives or negroes."                    -Abraham Lincoln

  • From  the Lincoln-Douglas debates: "In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statues or pronounces decisions. He makes statues and decisions possible or impossible to be executed."           -Abraham Lincoln

  • Lincoln reflecting on the idea of deportation in his speech in 1854 in Peoria: "My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia -- to their native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, as I think there is, there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to carry them there in many times ten days."                        -Abraham Lincoln

Back to Abraham Lincoln                                                                      Thesis                                                                                    Next to Decisions