Abraham Lincoln Quotes 1–30 of 628 Quotes

Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809 – 15 April 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Initially entering politics as a Whig, he became a member of the US congress from Illinois, and later the first Republican president, leading Union forces throughout the moral, constitutional, political and military crises of the American Civil War, during which he abolished slavery and strengthened the U.S. government.

Below are 30 of 628 sourced Abraham Lincoln quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Abraham Lincoln his hand and pen he will be good but god knows When”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln, Abraham. “Abraham Lincoln Quotes: 1–30 of 628 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Abraham-Lincoln-quotes.html#1

Quote source: Manuscript poem, as a teenager (ca. 1824–1826), in "Lincoln as Poet" at Library of Congress : Presidents as Poets also in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) edited by Roy. P. Basler, Vol. 1

“Abraham Lincoln is my name And with my pen I wrote the same I wrote in both hast and speed and left it here for fools to read”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln, Abraham. “Abraham Lincoln Quotes: 1–30 of 628 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Abraham-Lincoln-quotes.html#2

Quote source: Manuscript poem, as a teenager (ca. 1824–1826), in "Lincoln as Poet" at Library of Congress : Presidents as Poets, as published in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) edited by Roy. P. Basler, Vol. 1

“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the Scriptures, and other works both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: Address Delivered in Candidacy for the State Legislature (9 March 1832)

“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: Address Delivered in Candidacy for the State Legislature (9 March 1832)

“These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln, Abraham. “Abraham Lincoln Quotes: 1–30 of 628 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Abraham-Lincoln-quotes.html#5

Quote source: Speech to Illinois legislature (January 1837); This is "Lincoln's First Reported Speech", found in the Sangamo Journal (28 January 1837) according to McClure's Magazine (March 1896); also in Lincoln's Complete Works (1905) ed. by Nicolay and Hay, Vol. 1, p. 24

“I am mighty near one.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: When asked if he was an abolitionist (1837)

“Whatever Spiteful fools may Say — Each jealous, ranting yelper — No woman ever played the whore Unless She had a man to help her.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln, Abraham. “Abraham Lincoln Quotes: 1–30 of 628 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Abraham-Lincoln-quotes.html#7

Quote source: A stanza of Lincoln's "On Seduction" (1837-39) as conveyed by James H. Matheny (1865 or 1866)

“I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: Letter to Mrs. Orville H. Browning (1 April 1838), Collected Works, vol. 1. p. 119

“Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, before High Heaven, and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty and my love. And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly adopt the oath that I take? Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But, if after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country's freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we NEVER faltered in defending.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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More on this quote: Speech of the Sub-Treasury (1839), Collected Works 1:178-9
• Variant (misspelling): 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; and it shall not deter me.

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“They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of Abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Abraham Lincoln" (Quotes, 1830s, Illinois House Journal (1837):
Protest entered, pages 817-818 of the House Journal, March 3, by Lincoln with Dan Stone, another representative of Sangomon, briefly defined his position on the slavery question. According to his autobiography, written June, 1860, and following his nomination for President, "...his position on the slavery question ...so far as it goes, it was then the same that it is now." Quoted from A Short Autobiography, Written in June 1860, at the Request of a Friend to use in preparing a Popular Campaign Biography at the Election of that Year, in The Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln (1905) pp. 19-21.)

“They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power under the Constitution to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Abraham Lincoln" (Quotes, 1830s, Illinois House Journal (1837):
Protest entered, pages 817-818 of the House Journal, March 3, by Lincoln with Dan Stone, another representative of Sangomon, briefly defined his position on the slavery question. According to his autobiography, written June, 1860, and following his nomination for President, "...his position on the slavery question ...so far as it goes, it was then the same that it is now." Quoted from A Short Autobiography, Written in June 1860, at the Request of a Friend to use in preparing a Popular Campaign Biography at the Election of that Year, in The Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln (1905) pp. 19-21.)

“We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these — the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation — to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Abraham Lincoln" (Quotes, 1830s, The Lyceum Address (1838):
The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions : Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838))

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Abraham Lincoln" (Quotes, 1830s, The Lyceum Address (1838):
The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions : Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838))

“I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Abraham Lincoln" (Quotes, 1830s, The Lyceum Address (1838):
The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions : Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838))

“Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana, they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former nor the burning suns of the latter; they are not the creature of climate, neither are they confined to the slaveholding or the non-slaveholding States. Alike they spring up among the pleasure-hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order-loving citizens of the land of steady habits. Whatever then their cause may be, it is common to the whole country. [...] Such are the effects of mob law, and such are the scenes becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order, and the stories of which have even now grown too familiar to attract anything more than an idle remark. But you are perhaps ready to ask, "What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?" I answer, "It has much to do with it." Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil, and much of its danger consists in the proneness of our minds to regard its direct as its only consequences.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Abraham Lincoln" (Quotes, 1830s, The Lyceum Address (1838):
The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions : Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838))

“When men take it in their heads to-day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil. — By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. — Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquillity, who desire to abide by the laws and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country, seeing their property destroyed, their families insulted, and their lives endangered, their persons injured, and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better, become tired of and disgusted with a government that offers them no protection, and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocratic spirit which all must admit is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed — I mean the attachment of the people.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of [our] population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing-presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with impunity, depend upon it, this government cannot last. By such things the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it, and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak to make their friendship effectual. At such a time, and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric which for the last half century has been the fondest hope of the lovers of freedom throughout the world.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, or that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay, but till then let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that arises, as for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true; that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case, is the interposition of mob law, either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“We hope all danger may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise would itself be extremely dangerous.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon? — Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. — It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs. Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm, yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: 1830s, The Lyceum Address (1838):
The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions : Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838) Often the portion of this passage on "Towering genius..." is quoted without any mention or acknowledgment that Lincoln was speaking of the need to sometimes hold the ambitions of such genius in check, when individuals aim at their own personal aggrandizement rather than the common good.

“I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the Revolution had upon the passions of the people as distinguished from their judgment. By this influence, the jealousy, envy, and avarice incident to our nature and so common to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were for the time in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive, while the deep-rooted principles of hate, and the powerful motive of revenge, instead of being turned against each other, were directed exclusively against the British nation. And thus, from the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest cause — that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty. But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with the circumstances that produced it. I do not mean to say that the scenes of the Revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten, but that, like everything else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the Bible shall be read; but even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it heretofore has been. Even then they cannot be so universally known nor so vividly felt as they were by the generation just gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son, or a brother, a living history was to be found in every family — a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related — a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned. But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but what invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done — the leveling of its walls. They are gone. They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-restless hurricane has swept over them, and left only here and there a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage, unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs a few more ruder storms, then to sink and be no more. They were pillars of the temple of liberty; and now that they have crumbled away that temple must fall unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“'''Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence. — Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws''''': and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON. Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it''".”

— Abraham Lincoln

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“I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: Letter to John T. Stuart (23 January 1841), Collected Works 1:229-30

“... none seemed to think the injury arose from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very good thing.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Quote source: Address to the Springfield Washingtonian Temperance Society (22 February 1842). Frequently misquoted as "It has long been recognized that the problems with alcohol relate not to the use of a bad thing, but to the abuse of a good thing." http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/temperance.htm

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Bruce Lee Conor McGregor John Wooden Michael Jordan Mike Tyson Muhammad Ali Vince Lombardi Yogi Berra

Authors

Alan Watts Albert Camus Anne Frank Ayn Rand Barack Obama Benjamin Franklin Bill Gates C. S. Lewis Carl Jung Carl Sagan Charles Bukowski Che Guevara Donald Trump Dr. Seuss E. E. Cummings Eckhart Tolle Edgar Allan Poe Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway F. Scott Fitzgerald Friedrich Nietzsche George Bernard Shaw George Carlin George Orwell Goethe Groucho Marx Haruki Murakami Helen Keller Henry David Thoreau Hunter S. Thompson Isaac Newton J. K. Rowling J. R. R. Tolkien Jane Austen John Green John Muir Jordan Peterson Kahlil Gibran Karl Marx Kurt Vonnegut Lao Tzu Machiavelli Mark Twain Maya Angelou Neil deGrasse Tyson Oscar Wilde Rabindranath Tagore Ralph Waldo Emerson Roald Dahl Robert Frost Rumi Shakespeare Stephen Hawking Sylvia Plath Theodore Roosevelt Thich Nhat Hanh Tony Robbins Voltaire Walt Whitman Winston Churchill Zig Ziglar

Businesspeople

Al Capone Bill Gates Coco Chanel Donald Trump Elon Musk Henry Ford Kanye West Michael Jordan Oprah Winfrey Richard Branson Steve Jobs Thomas Edison Walt Disney Warren Buffett

Coaches

John Wooden Tony Robbins Vince Lombardi Yogi Berra Zig Ziglar

Comedians

Charlie Chaplin George Carlin Groucho Marx Mae West Mitch Hedberg Robin Williams Will Smith

Explorers

Christopher Columbus Marco Polo Theodore Roosevelt

Fictional Characters

Albus Dumbledore The Joker Peter Pan Rocky Balboa Yoda

Inventors

Benjamin Franklin Elon Musk Leonardo da Vinci Nikola Tesla Thomas Edison

Military Leaders

Abraham Lincoln Adolf Hitler Alexander the Great Che Guevara Genghis Khan George Washington Julius Caesar Napoleon Sun Tzu Theodore Roosevelt Winston Churchill

Musicians & Singers

Beyoncé Bob Dylan Bob Marley Drake Ed Sheeran Eminem J. Cole Jimi Hendrix John Lennon Justin Bieber Kanye West Kendrick Lamar Kurt Cobain Lana Del Rey Lil Wayne Michael Jackson Taylor Swift Tupac Will Smith Wiz Khalifa

Philosophers

Alan Watts Albert Camus Aristotle Ayn Rand Confucius Dalai Lama Friedrich Nietzsche Henry David Thoreau Karl Marx Lao Tzu Machiavelli Marcus Aurelius Noam Chomsky Plato Ralph Waldo Emerson Socrates Thomas Jefferson Voltaire

Poets

Charles Bukowski E. E. Cummings Edgar Allan Poe Emily Dickinson Friedrich Nietzsche Henry David Thoreau J. R. R. Tolkien Kahlil Gibran Rabindranath Tagore Ralph Waldo Emerson Robert Frost Rumi Shakespeare Walt Whitman

Politicians

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Abraham Lincoln Adolf Hitler Alexander the Great Arnold Schwarzenegger Barack Obama Ben Carson Benjamin Franklin Confucius Donald Trump Eleanor Roosevelt George Washington Hillary Clinton Isaac Newton John F. Kennedy Julius Caesar Machiavelli Marcus Aurelius Michelle Obama Napoleon Nelson Mandela Ronald Reagan Theodore Roosevelt Thomas Jefferson Winston Churchill

Polymaths

Benjamin Franklin Goethe Leonardo da Vinci Rabindranath Tagore Thomas Jefferson

Religious & Spiritual

Buddha Dalai Lama Gandhi Jesus Martin Luther King Mother Teresa Muhammad Osho Pope Francis Swami Vivekananda Thich Nhat Hanh

Scientists

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Albert Einstein Aristotle Isaac Newton Leonardo da Vinci Marie Curie Neil deGrasse Tyson Nikola Tesla Stephen Hawking Thomas Edison