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Quotes

Quote #1

It is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. —Abraham Lincoln, debating Stephen A. Douglas October 15th, 1858 (3.1)

If politics is about right versus wrong (and, by extension, good versus evil), that probably means we have to fight against evil totally. No compromise necessary. Compare this to his 1848 speech (that starts out Chapter Eight), where he says "The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good" (8.1). Do those two positions make sense together?

Quote #2

Captain Lincoln! I will admit that tears filled my eyes. It was the first time I had felt such esteem. The first time that I had been elected to lead my fellow men, and their sacred trust gave me more satisfaction than any election I have won or any office I have held since. (6.31)

Let's be honest—this position doesn't seem to matter much. Abe's militia never goes to war, so he never gets to lead these men in a way that matters. But still, it feels good to Abe to be chosen by people for something that seems important at the time. Think of this as the American Idol of the 1800s.

Quote #3

In one of the few highlights of his congressional career, Abe introduced a bill to outlaw slavery in the District of Columbia. He'd been careful to write it in such a way that "it seemed neither severe to slave owners, nor feeble to abolitionists." But there was only so much a first-term Congressman could do, brilliant or not. The bill never came to a vote. (8.46)

If this is politics, then it doesn't seem that fun to us. Here's Abe, all excited over finally getting to the big leagues. (No offense to state legislatures, but no one likes you. No offense.) And he just wants to do a little good by banning slavery in D.C., which isn't that big of an area, but he can't even get this bill discussed in Congress. It's no wonder that Abe decides to go back to being just a country lawyer after this. At least in that line of work, people pay him some attention.

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