If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business

Lincoln monument

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can

The President was once speaking about an attack made on him by the Committee on the Conduct of the War for a certain alleged blunder, or something worse, in the Southwest – the matter involved being one which had fallen directly under the observation of the officer to whom he was talking, who possessed official evidence completely upsetting all the conclusions of the Committee.

“Might it not be well for me,” queried the officer, “to set this matter right in a letter to some paper, stating the facts as they actually transpired?”

“Oh, no,” replied the President, ” at least, not now. If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

by Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865)
from Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln (1866)
The Faith of Abraham Lincoln
image – ~MVI~

Happy Birthday Lincoln and Hello, History!

I’m taking a little break from love quotes to post a quote in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

Some “Lincoln quotes” are fiction, made up to fit his folk hero image. This one is the real deal. I found references to parts of this excerpt in recent books about business, motivation and self-help, as well as older books going back as far as 1865, the year of Abraham Lincoln’s death. Though it’s not from a written speech, it is something he was known to say.

Many books that quote Lincoln contain parts of the same stories, excerpted in ways that are appropriate for the time and the book’s focus. The life and public services of Abraham Lincoln (1865) presents today’s excerpt in a lengthy “Anecdotes and Remembrances” section – not surprising, considering when it was published. Without digging too hard, I found mentions of over three dozen 1865-1867 books memorializing Lincoln, including a 306 page Poetical Tribute to the Memory of Abraham Lincoln.

Near the end of The life and public services of Abraham Lincoln there is a detailed account of Lincoln’s death and burial, and a glowing, hindsight-style assessment of some of his more controversial political decisions:

…one of the greatest elements of (George) Washington’ s strength was the patient sagacity with which he could watch and wait until these conditions were fulfilled. The position and duty of President Lincoln in regard to slavery were very similar. If he had taken counsel only of his own abstract opinions and sympathies, and had proclaimed emancipation at the outset of the war… the first effect would have been to throw all the Border Slave States into the bosom of the slaveholding Confederacy, and add their formidable force to the armies of the rebellion; the next result would have been to arouse the political opposition in the loyal States to fresh activity by giving it a rallying-cry; and the third would have been to divide the great body of those who agreed in defending the Union, but who did not then agree in regard to the abolition of slavery. Candid men… will have no difficulty in seeing that the probable result of these combined influences would have been such a strengthening of the forces of the Confederacy, and such a weakening of our own, as might have overwhelmed the Administration, and given the rebellion a final and a fatal victory. By awaiting the development of public sentiment, President Lincoln secured a support absolutely essential to success…

from The life and public services of Abraham Lincoln (1865)
The Death of Abraham Lincoln

Written like a true fan. 🙂

My Southern roots and Yankee shoots (& vice versa) are all aflutter. That was the time when we split apart like nuclear fission. Seven generations later, some of us have come together. Without doing more reading, I wouldn’t have taken “If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything” to wondering what has happened to the scattered branches of my family.

Today’s less-sentimental books give us a line or two to jump start the theme of a chapter. Taking a quote and making it your own is fine, but aren’t you ever curious about what would bubble up with a side-trip to more?

……………………

You may be interested in last year’s post for Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday.

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