— By JOHN CARTER
When Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet on April 15, 1865, Edwin Stanton remarked to those gathered around his bedside, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
One of the meanings implied in Stanton’s famous statement is that Lincoln would not only be remembered as an iconic figure of the past, but that his spirit would also play a significant role in ages to come.
The Oscar-nominated movie “Lincoln,” which chronicles the struggle to pass the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, has turned our attention again to Lincoln’s legacy and his relevance amid our nation’s present divisions and growing pains.
Here is some of the wit and wisdom of Abraham Lincoln worth pondering:
“As for being president, I feel like the man who was tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. To the man who asked him how he liked it, he said, ‘If it wasn’t for the honor of the thing, I’d rather walk.’”
“I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.”
“Should my administration prove to be a very wicked one, or what is more probable, a very foolish one, if you the people are true to yourselves and the Constitution, there is but little harm I can do, thank God.”
“Bad promises are better broken than kept.”
“I am not at all concerned that the Lord is on our side in this great struggle, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right; but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord’s side.”
“I have never had a feeling, politically, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.”
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”
“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
“The true rule, in determining to embrace or reject anything, is not whether it have any evil in it, but whether it have more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good.”
“Some of our generals complain that I impair discipline and subordination in the army by my pardons and respites, but it makes me rested, after a hard day’s work, if I can find some good excuse for saving a man’s life, and I go to bed happy as I think how joyful the signing of my name will make him (a deserter) and his family.”
“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
In addition, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural speech are ever relevant. And you may wish to add your own favorites to these.
Paul’s advice to us in Philippians 4:8 is to “fill your minds with those things that are good and deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”
As we celebrate his birthday on the 12th, Lincoln’s words more than meet this standard!
John Carter is a Weatherford resident whose column, “Notes From the Journey,” is published weekly in the Weatherford Democrat.