It's been 150 years since the end of the Civil War, but the words spoken by the conflict's main figures have not faded. During the four-year fight between the states, national leaders including President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate General Robert E. Lee spoke about the central issue of slavery. Below are a few of their most famous quotes on the matter, compiled from the Abraham Lincoln Research Site and AmericanCivilWarStory.com.
Lincoln's Thoughts On Slavery And The War:
“One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended.”
"In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”
"I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel."
"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."
"Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope."
Lee's Thoughts On Slavery And The War:
"I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South its dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and have never seen the day when I did not pray for them."
“All that the South has ever desired was that the Union as established by our forefathers should be preserved and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth.”
“Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less."
"What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!"