Quotes about Abraham Lincoln » Abraham Lincoln

Quotes about Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln has long been honored around the world – with statues, named schools, and named streets. Historian Merrill Petersen wrote in Lincoln in American Memory: “Around the conference table at Versailles in 1919, Lincoln was a favorite topic of conversation among the Big Three: Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau. Both the Europe leaders later made pilgrimages to Lincoln’s tomb.” Around the world, Lincoln has often been cited by those seeking freedom, liberty and justice.


From Europe


  • German Chancellor Willy Brandt of Germany. According to the New York Times, “On Feb. 12, 1959, Willy Brandt, then mayor of West Berlin, called for the reunification of Berlin and of Germany at the Lincoln sesquicentennial celebrations in Springfield, Ill. He said that the “German people acknowledged Lincoln’s dictum that it was the duty of the people never to entrust to any hands but their own the preservation of their liberties.” Brandt said that Lincoln “does not belong to you alone, he belongs to all of us.”
  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote in his History of the English Speaking Peoples that “the death of Lincoln deprived the Union of the guiding hand which alone could have solved the problems of reconstruction.”
  • At the Paris Peace Conference, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, who had been a newspaper correspondent in America shortly after the Civil War, recalled that he heard of Lincoln’s assassination while studying in Paris. Decades later at Lincoln’s tomb, Clemenceau said: “We do not try to equal him, but to go behind him in the path which he made for us. We people in France honor Americans and love America, of a country or a political party, but as a man before this man, and with all my heart I am profoundly grateful for the privilege, profoundly stirred by the inspiration of standing at his tomb.”
  • British Prime Minister David Lloyd George: “I doubt whether any statesman who ever lived sank so deeply into the hearts of the people of many lands as Abraham Lincoln did. I am not sure that you in America realize the extent to which he is also our possession and our pride. His courage, fortitude, patience, humanity, clemency, Ms trust in the people, his belief in democracy, and, may I add, some of the phrases in which he gave expression to those attributes, will stand out forever as beacons to guide troubled nations and their perplexed leaders. Resolute in war, he was moderate in victory. Misrepresented, misunderstood, underestimated, he was patient to the last. But the people believed in him all the time, and they still believe in him. Tn his life he was a’ great American. He is an American no longer. He is one of those giant figures, of whom there are very few in history, who lose their nationality in death. They are no longer Greek or Hebrew or English or American—they belong to mankind.”
  • Karl Marx judged Lincoln “the single-minded son of the working class.”
  • Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote for the New York World: “Of all the great national heroes and statesmen of history Lincoln is the only real giant. Alexander, Frederick the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, Gladstone and even Washington stand in greatness of character, in depth of feeling and in a certain moral power far behind Lincoln. Lincoln was a man of whom a nation has a right to be proud; he was a Christ in miniature, a saint of humanity, whose name will live thousands of years in the legends of future generations.”
    “Now, why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skillful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great, but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character. It is natural that before he reached his goal he had to walk the highway of mistakes. But we find him, nevertheless, in every tendency true to one main motive and that was to benefit mankind. He was one who wanted to be great through his smallness. If he had failed to become president, he would be. no doubt, just as great as he is now, but only God could appreciate it.”