Doris Kearns Goodwin · 916 pages
Rating: (118.6K votes)
“Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country - bigger than all the Presidents together.
We are still too near to his greatness,' (Leo) Tolstoy (in 1908) concluded, 'but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.' (748)”
“An adult friend of Lincoln's: "Life was to him a school.”
“This, then, is a story of Lincoln’s political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates; to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his governing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidential prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing.”
“With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”
“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition,” he wrote. “I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”
“In order to “win a man to your cause,” Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart, “the great high road to his reason.”
“Tolstoy went on to observe,"This little incident proves how largely the name of Lincoln is worshipped throughout the world and how legendary his personality has become. 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.
"Washington was a typical American. Naopoleon was a typical Frenchmen, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country--- bigger than all the Presidents t,ogether. We are still too near to his greatness, " Tolstoy concluded, "but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when it's light beams directly on us.”
“(from John Hay's diary) “The President never appeared to better advantage in the world,” Hay proudly noted in his diary. “Though He knows how immense is the danger to himself from the unreasoning anger of that committee, he never cringed to them for an instant. He stood where he thought he was right and crushed them with his candid logic.”
“A real democracy would be a meritocracy where those born in the lower ranks could rise as far as their natural talents and discipline might take them.”
“Having hope,” writes Daniel Goleman in his study of emotional intelligence, “means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.” Hope is “more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right”; it is “believing you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals.”
“(Lincoln reflecting on) George Washington's words: “It is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prospertiy. Washington advised vigilance against “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”
“Simon Cameron: “I loved my brother, as only the poor and lonely can love those with whom they have toiled and struggled up the rugged hill of life’s success—but he died bravely in the discharge of his duty.”
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
“And Lincoln, as would be evidenced throughout his presidency, was a master of timing.”
“Moreover, Lincoln possessed an uncanny understanding of his shifting moods, a profound self-awareness that enabled him to find constructive ways to alleviate sadness and stress. Indeed, when he is compared with his colleagues, it is clear that he possessed the most even-tempered disposition of them all.”
“Lincoln understood the importance, as one delegate put it, of integrating “all the elements of the Republican party—including the impracticable, the Pharisees, the better-than-thou declaimers, the long-haired men and the short-haired women.”
“Lincoln had internalized the pain of those around him—the wounded soldiers, the captured prisoners, the defeated Southerners. Little wonder that he was overwhelmed at times by a profound sadness that even his own resilient temperament could not dispel.”
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.”
“The ambition to establish a reputation worthy of the esteem of his fellows so that his story could be told after his death had carried Lincoln through his bleak childhood, his laborious efforts to educate himself, his string of political failures, and a depression so profound that he declared himself more than willing to die, except that “he had done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived.”
“On the return trip, they passed a brigade of black soldiers, who rushed forward to greet the president, “screaming, yelling, shouting: ‘Hurrah for the Liberator; Hurrah for the President.’ ” Their “spontaneous outburst” moved Lincoln to tears, “and his voice was so broken by emotion” that he could hardly reply.”
“Lincoln replied that he was more than willing to die, but that he had “done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived, and that to connect his name with the events transpiring in his day and generation and so impress himself upon them as to link his name with something that would redound to the interest of his fellow man was what he desired to live for.”
“It is not until one visits old, oppressed, suffering Europe, that he can appreciate his own government, "he observed, "that he realizes the fearful responsibility of the American people to the nations of the whole earth, to carry successfully through the experiment... That men are capable of self-government.”
“Lincoln was as calm and unruffled as the summer sea in moments of the gravest peril;”
“all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“His success in dealing with the strong egos of the men in his cabinet suggests that in the hands of a truly great politician the qualities we generally associate with decency and morality—kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty, and empathy—can also be impressive political resources.”
“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition,” he wrote. “I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed.”
“Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall argued in another context many years later, the “grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.”
“Mental health, contemporary psychiatrists tell us, consists of the ability to adapt to the inevitable stresses and misfortunes of life. It does not mean freedom from anxiety and depression, but only the ability to cope with these afflictions in a healthy way.”
“Elizabeth Blair of brother Frank: he could “not let even a great man set his small dogs on him without kicking the dog & giving his master some share of the resentment.”
“In fact, Lincoln and Stanton had already heard similar complaints. After dispatching investigators to look into General Grant’s behavior, however, they had concluded that his drinking did not affect his unmatched ability to plan, execute, and win battles. A memorable story circulated that when a delegation brought further rumors of Grant’s drinking to the president, Lincoln declared that if he could find the brand of whiskey Grant used, he would promptly distribute it to the rest of his generals!”
“Hunting humans for sport? Eating them?" the bitterness in his voice cut through me. "Yeah, I caught that part."
"That doesn't have anything to do with you?
He lifted his eyes, gaze shuttered. "No?"
"Not unless being a werewolf transforms you into a wolf AND a redneck moron.”
“All these books are published in Heaven.”
“I hate this feeling. Like I'm here, but I'm not. Like someone cares. But they don't. Like I belong somewhere else, anywhere but here, and escape lies just past that snowy window, cool and crisp as the February air.”
“Our behavior is different. How often have you seen a headline like this?--TWO DIE ATTEMPTING RESCUE OF DROWNING CHILD. If a man gets lost in the mountains, hundreds will search and often two or three searchers are killed. But the next time somebody gets lost just as many volunteers turn out.
Poor arithmetic, but very human. It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature--a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price.”
“What do you mean, a ghost? The Honorable James Augustus Peregrine Pympoole-Bothame, heir to the fourteenth Earl of Hardsdale, is taking no insults from young girls!”
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