'I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you - not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers but with you - is the question “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?”’
- Abraham Lincoln
'What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.'
Reconciliation had a long way to go in the days following Lee’s surrender. Edmund Ruffin, credited with firing the first shot at Sumter four years earlier, reacted to the news of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox by leaving a farewell note decrying ‘the perfidious, malignant and vile Yankee race’ - then putting a bullet through his head. Not to be outdone, as it were, the famous Northern preacher Henry Ward Beecher, vitriolic as ever, foresaw eternal agony for the secessionist aristocrats – ‘guiltiest and most remorseless traitors, polished, cultured, exceedingly capable and wholly unprincipled…Caught up in black clouds full of voices of vengeance and lurid with punishment, [they] shall be whirled aloft and plunged downward forever and forever in endless retribution.’
‘Primates often have trouble imagining a universe not run by an angry alpha male.’
The terms of surrender Grant presented to Lee at Appomattox were uncommonly lenient. Confederate officers, after relinquishing their arms and artillery were allowed ‘to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by the United States authority’ on the condition they never again ‘take up arms’ against the Union. They were also allowed to take their private horses as well as their side arms [‘their horses to plow with and the guns to shoot crows with’]. This provision, Lee observed, ‘would have a happy effect upon my army.’ As the brief meeting between the two commanders drew to a close Lee mentioned that ‘his army was in a very bad condition for want of food.’ Grant gave orders that 100,000 rations be provided for Lee’s scarecrow army of 25,000 men.
From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst: March 27 Harriet Beecher Stowe one winter evening toward the end of the war asked if the president did not feel a great relief over the prospect of the war soon coming to a close. And Lincoln had answered, she said, in a sad way: 'No Mrs. Stowe. I shall never live to see peace. This war is killing me.'
'Let children walk with Nature. Let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity as taught in woods and meadows and plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed and as beautiful as life.' - John Muir
At one point during the war Lincoln was forced by his cabinet to confront the realization that many people who were thought to be Unionists were actually spies providing key information to the Confederacy. After presenting the evidence, Secretary of War Stanton asked for direction. Lincoln, who had been silent and visibly disturbed, expressed his feelings with a story about the dilemma of an old farmer who had a very large shade tree towering over his house. 'It was a majestic-looking tree and apparently perfect in every part – tall, straight and of immense size - the grand old sentinel of his forest home. One morning while at work in his garden he saw a squirrel run up the tree into a hole and thought the tree might be hollow. He proceeded to examine it carefully and - much to his surprise - he found that the stately tree that he had valued for its beauty and grandeur to be the pride and protection of his little farm was hollow from top to bottom. Only a rim of sound wood remained barely sufficient to support its weight. What was he to do? If he cut it down it would do immense damage with its great length and spreading branches. If he let it remain his family was in constant danger; in a storm it might fall or the wind might blow it down and his house and children be crushed by it. What should he do? As he turned away he said sadly, “I wish I had never seen that squirrel.”’
- Abraham Lincoln
'The great thing in this world is not so much where we are but in what direction we are moving.'
In the run-up to Lincoln's inauguration in 1861 the country was in a state of apoplexy. At one of his stops along his route to Washington from Illinois Lincoln said, 'why all this excitement - why all these complaints? As I said before, this crisis is all artificial. It has no foundation in facts. It was not argued up as the saying is and cannot therefore be argued down. Let it alone and it will go down of itself.'
'I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.'
From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst: March 24 'The Emancipation Proclamation applies to Arkansas. I think it is valid in law, and will be so held by the courts. I think I shall not retract or repudiate it. Those who shall have tasted actual freedom I believe can never be slaves or quasi slaves again.' - Abraham Lincoln
‘Don’t ever let the urgent crowd out the important.' - Anonymous
From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst: March 23 'And having thus chosen our course without guile and with pure purpose let us renew our trust in God and go forward without fear and with manly hearts. ' - Abraham Lincoln
'Embrace all that you most fear or find repugnant the better to realize that everything in the Universe being inseparably related is therefore holy.' - Lama Marpa
'If I had been allowed my way this war would have ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that God permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.'
- Abraham Lincoln
‘No matter what suffering you endure, God is bigger than the biggest pain.’
From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual” by Arnold Kunst The only thing the loser takes with him when he dies is what he gave away before he died. The only thing the winner takes with him when he dies is what he gave away before he died.
Following Lincoln’s assassination, a War Department circular in 1865 virtually guaranteed the capture of Davis. ‘One hundred thousand dollars reward in Gold will be paid to any person or persons who will apprehend and deliver Jefferson Davis to any of the military authorities of the United States. Several millions of specie reported to be with him will become the property of the captors.’
‘Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind.’
'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 by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right and stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.'
'I am naturally antislavery. If
slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so
think and feel.'
- Abraham Lincoln
'We hold these truths to be self
evident that all men are created equal - that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable rights - that among these are the right to life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'