Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Leadership You Can Live By

by Alex Lim
lincoln quotes on leadership

Abraham Lincoln was a self-made American politician who served as the 16th President of the United States, from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. He was a prominent personality whose quotes and words hold great depth.

The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln

Despite Lincoln’s death on April 14, 1865, the war continued even throughout his tenure as President of the United States. The Confederacy would not surrender for another month and a half. On May 10, 1865, a day after the surrender of General Lee to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, Andrew Johnson issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon.

Lincoln was a lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives. The American people elected him for the presidency in 1860. During his tenure, Lincoln successfully led the North through the American Civil War, which had begun in 1861. He introduced measures that resulted in the abolition of slavery.

I will never destroy America from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed it ourselves.”

As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted the Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher policies toward the South. Lincoln held off the Radical Republicans, while his actions against slavery brought him support in the North and the border states. As a self-described “political fatalist”, Lincoln unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate in 1854. You can learn a lot from this enigmatic personality through his struggles.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.

His Rich History and Abraham Lincoln Quotes

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Rich heritage and overwhelming struggles fill the history of Abraham Lincoln. Many people say Abraham Lincoln was a great man. A man known to be very smart, Lincoln had a great way with words.

He was just an ordinary man who worked hard to make it through life. He was born on February 12, 1809. His parents were Thomas and Nancy Lincoln. Thomas came from Kentucky and moved to Indiana and later married Nancy Hanks. They had a son named Abe Lincoln, but he never called himself Abe. He always called himself Abraham because he did not like the nickname Abe for him.

He had two sisters and one brother named Sarah, Elizabeth, and Thomas Lincoln Jr., who died when he was only 16 years old from typhoid fever. His mother died when he was only nine years old from milk sickness.

Before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln served as a U.S. congressional representative, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Lincoln’s political experience as a congressional representative and state legislator was very limited. He had not held office in the federal government or in any state government before his election as the President of the United States.

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

Lincoln was a Whig politician. He served in the Illinois General Assembly (the state legislature) from 1834 to 1842 and was a member of the Whig Party. In 1846, he was elected to Congress from Illinois. After serving one two-year term, he withdrew from public office and returned to his law practice.

Lincoln returned to politics in 1854, winning an election to the Senate as a Whig. He gained national attention in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates that year, defeating Stephen A. Douglas in a series of seven debates held in the Senate campaign. They re-elected Lincoln to the Senate in 1858, winning over 80% of the vote.

“Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”

Abraham Lincoln’s Hatred for Slavery

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

Lincoln worked towards abolishing slavery. He also worked for the unity of the country. He showed great concern for the people working as slaves. But he was firm with the South, demanding they return to their former status as a part of the Union. As a result, the South refused to cooperate, which lead to a war led by Abraham Lincoln.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”

The Union was victorious in the war, leading to the abolition of slavery. This also resulted in the end of the war and the creation of the United States of America as a single nation. The war, which lasted for four years, cost the lives of thousands of people. The war highlighted the struggle for basic human freedom.

Abraham Lincoln’s Stance on Justice

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

The abolition of slavery in the United States is a prime example of justice delayed but not denied. “Justice delayed is justice denied” is a principle used by Abraham Lincoln in his Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery. In a letter he wrote on April 4, 1864 to Albert G. Hodges (a Kentucky newspaper editor), Lincoln said:

“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was.I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.”

Abraham Lincoln as an Enigmatic Leader

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Abraham Lincoln was a true leader who stood for the rights of the people. He took on the challenge of maintaining the Union. The War was the most divisive conflict in American history, more than any other war to date. One of the principal reasons for this was slavery. His resolution to succeed made him bound to win.

“Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln had a profound impact on the history of slavery in the United States. He made it one of his fundamental goals to end it. He helped write and pass the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederate States of America. He became worried, however, that not all slaves would gain freedom because so many had already been getting sold to new owners in the South.

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is, and the tree is the real thing.”

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

Abraham Lincoln’s Opinion on Freedom

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.”

“With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”

Abraham Lincoln fought for the freedom of slaves. Lorenzo de Zavala and other founders of the Republic of Texas fought for the freedom of slaves. The problem is that so few Americans know about these people. The signers of the Declaration were fighting for all Americans, including black Americans. They were fighting against slavery and racism, which was a common occurrence.

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

It was a war of the Northern Aggression. The South seceded from the Union because of how much it upset them that Abraham Lincoln became President in 1860. It also distressed them that the North passed a law that said if people captured slaves in the South, those slaves would become free. Lincoln had no intention of freeing slaves, and he always intended to keep the South in the Union as long as they accepted he was President.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln’s Religious Beliefs

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

As a person with extremely shifting religious beliefs, Lincoln was vocal about religion and would often voice his unbiased opinions on the topic. Occasionally, he would mention that “God is always right”, while other times he would mention the bible as only a normal book.

“I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

After his son Willie died, Lincoln wrote an article for a newspaper entitled “The President’s Last Hours.” Lincoln wrote: “At the last hour, his mind was so clear and peaceful, that he had no expression that was at all unnatural. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling and he did not move a muscle until the end.”

“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”


“I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all. ”

Abraham Lincoln was a true revolutionary of his time, who strived for the well-being of his fellow people. His words hold great merit and they are a source of infinite wisdom for anyone seeking to elevate their morals and values. The values imbued in his words will teach future generations to walk in his path.

If you’re still up for more motivational quotes, perhaps you’d like to check out quotes from Sun Tzu, servant leadership quotes, and quotes about how money can’t buy happiness. If you find them helpful at all, please share them with your friends. Share the positive vibes!

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