Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Government (27 Quotes)


    In all that people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.

    The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of the consumers. By the adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saves immense sums of interest. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government's greatest creative opportunity.

    In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend it'.

    I am struggling to maintain the government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it.

    It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its existence in great emergencies


    It is my ambition and desire to so administer the affairs of the government while I remain President that if at the end I have lost every other Friend on earth I shall at least have one friend remaining and that one shall be down inside me.

    The people will save their government, if the government itself will allow them.

    There is an important sense in which government is distinctive from administration. One is perpetual, the other is temporary and changeable. A man may be loyal to his government and yet oppose the particular principles and methods of administration. Attributed to Representative Abraham Lincoln. by W. T. Roche, address at Washington, Kansas, April 9, 1942 'These words were spoken by Lincoln, then a Congressman, in defense of his condemnation of President Polk for provoking the Mexican War.'

    If all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need of government.

    The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought n.

    Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence.

    This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.

    Must a government be too strong for the liberties of its people or too weak to maintain its own existence

    As an individual who undertakes to live by borrowing, soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and next no one left to borrow from so must it be with a government.

    Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.

    The question recurs 'how shall we fortify against it' The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

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

    While the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government, in the short space of four years.

    If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, ... the people will have ceased, to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there, in this view, any assault upon the court, or the judges. It is a duty, from which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly brought before them and it is no fault of theirs, if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

    Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.

    I fear you do not fully comprehend the danger of abridging the liberties of the people. Nothing but the sternest necessity can ever justify it. A government had better go to the extreme of toleration, than to do aught that could be construed into an interference with, or to jeopardize in any degree, the common rights of its citizens.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.

    In the early days of the world, the Almighty said to the first of our race 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread' and since then, if we except the light and the air of heaven, no good thing has been, or can be enjoyed by us, without having first cost labour. And inasmuch as most good things are produced by labour, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labour has produced them. But it has so happened in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have, without labour, enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.

    I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If he has a place and work for me and I think He has I believe I am ready. This comment was made in a private conversation with Newton Bateman, superintendent of public instruction for the state of Illinois, a few days before the election of 1860. During the election of 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy used the same words in a speech to the United Steelworkers of America convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 19, 1960. Freedom of Communications, final report of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate, part 1, p. 286 (1961). Senate Report. 87-994. As president, he used a variation of these words at the 10th annual presidential prayer breakfast, March 1, 1962. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States John F Kennedy, 1962, p. 176.

    The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts.

    Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope, would you shake the cable, or keep shouting out to him - 'Blondin, stand up a little straighter - Blondin, stoop a little more - go a little faster - lean a little more to the north - lean a little more to the south' No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over. The Government are carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Don't badger them. Keep silence, and we'll get you safe across. -Francis B. Carpenter, 'Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln' in Henry Jarvis Raymond, The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln..., p. 752 (1865). Carpenter, a portrait artist, lived in the White House for six months beginning February 1864, to paint the president and the entire Cabinet. His relations with the president became of an 'intimate character,' and he was permitted 'the freedom of his private office at almost all hours,...privileged to see and know more of his daily life' than most people. He states that he 'endeavored to embrace only those anecdotes which bear the marks of authenticity. Many.... I myself heard the President relate others were communicated to me by persons who either heard or took part in them' (p. 725). Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet) was a French tightrope walker who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 1855, 1859, and 1860

    There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two, so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.


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