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On his school teachers:

Middletown, Connecticut, February 24, 1838

The French tutor is a passionate old fellow. He looks more like a plump feather bed than anything else I know of!!


As a college student, on his future:

June 19, 1841, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

I will put down a few of my present hopes and designs for the sake of keeping them safe. I do not intend to leave here until about a year after I graduate, when I expect to commence the study of law. Before then I wish to become a master of logic and rhetoric and to obtain a good knowledge of history. To accomplish these objects I am willing to study hard, in which case I believe I can make, at least, a tolerable debater. It is another intention of mine, that after I have commenced in life, whatever may be my ability or station, to preserve a reputation for honesty and benevolence; and if ever I am a public man I will never do anything inconsistent with the character of a true friend and good citizen. To become such a man I shall necessarily have to live in accordance with the precepts of the Bible, which I firmly believe, although I have never made them strictly the "rule of my conduct."--Thus ends this long dry chapter on self.


On marriage:

February 27, 1853, Cincinnati-- Almost two months married. The great step of life which makes or mars the whole after journey, has been happily taken. The dear friend who is to share with me the joys and ills of our earthly being grows steadily nearer and dearer to me. A better wife I never hoped to have. Our little differences in points of taste or preference are readily adjusted, and judging by the past I do not see how our tender and affectionate relations can be disturbed by any jar. She bears with my "innocent peculiarities" so kindly, so lovingly; is so studious in providing for my little wants; is--is, in short, so true a wife that I cannot think it possible that any shadow of disappointment will ever cloud the prospect,--save only such calamities as are the common allotment of Providence to all. Let me strive to be as true to her as she is to me.


On the birth on his first child:

November 6, 1853, Cincinnati--On Friday, the 4th, at 2 P. M., Lucy gave birth to our first child--a son. I hoped, and had a presentiment almost, that the little one would be a boy. How I love Lucy, the mother of my boy! Sweetheart and wife, she had been before, loved tenderly and strongly as such, but the new feeling is more "home-felt," quiet, substantial, and satisfying. For the "lad" my feeling has yet to grow a great deal. I prize him and rejoiced to have him, and when I take him in my arms begin to feel a father's love and interest, hope and pride, enough to know what the feeling will be if not what it is. I think what is to be his future, his life. How strange a mystery all this is! This to me is the beginning of a new life. A happy one, I believe.


On joining the army for the Civil War:

May 15, 1861, Cincinnati--Judge Matthews and I have agreed to go into the service for the war,--if possible into the same regiment. I spoke my feelings to him, which he said were his also, viz., that this was a just and necessary war and that it demanded the whole power of the country; that I would prefer to go into it if I knew I was to die or be killed in the course of it, than to live through and after it without taking any part in it.


On leaving the war to campaign for political office:

August 24, 1864, Camp of Sheridan's Army

Your suggestion about getting a furlough to take the stump was certainly made without reflection. An officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress ought to be scalped. You may feel perfectly sure I shall do no such thing.


On politics:

Soldiers' Home, August 9, 1878. -Nothing brings out the lower traits of human nature like office-seeking. Men of good character and impulses are betrayed by it into all sorts of meanness.


On presidential term of office:

June 5, 1880, Chicago. Let me emphasize in my last message the idea that, the Constitution should be so amended as to lengthen the term of the President to six years, and so as to render him ineligible for a second term.


On war and peace:

1880 [Midsummer] To perpetuate the Union and to abolish slavery were the work of war. To educate the uneducated is the appropriate work of peace.


On problems of his adminstration

June 6, 1882, Fremont, Ohio. Notice these: The Southern question; the money question; the hard times and riots; the Indian question; the Chinese question, the reform of the civil service; the partisan bitterness growing out of a disputed election; a hostile Congress; and a party long in power on the verge of defeat. Is there any one of these which was not left in a better condition than it was found? I have often said that, leaving out of the question Lincoln's Administration, it would be difficult to find one which began with so rough a situation, and few which closed with so smooth a sea. A good deal too much of this.


On civil service:

January 5, 1885, Fremont, Ohio. The control by the Executive of the whole body of office-holders as a political force to do his bidding in party management, was absolutely and entirely abolished during my term of office. Office-holders either abstained entirely from such work, or took their own course without any effort to dictate on the part of the Executive. In the National Convention of 1880, a smaller number of office-holders took part than in any previous convention since the time of John Quincy Adams. It was in striking contrast with the convention of 1884, in which the office-holders appeared in full force supporting the interests of the Administration under which they held place.


On former presidents:

July 26, 1888

Presidents in the past have always been better than their adversaries have predicted. Take, of course, only those who are so far removed by time that no one's sensibilities will be shocked or even touched by allusions to them, --say, from Washington to Jackson inclusive. All were free from any the least taint of personal corruption. All were honest men. All were in the best sense gentlemen.


On the death of Lucy:

October 4, 1889, Mohonk, NY, Friday. -- My birthday -- sixty-seven. It brings freshly and painfully to mind the absence from my side of my cherished Lucy. When I last was here in the spring at the centennial of the Government she was with me! Alas, how it weakens the hold of this life -- of earth upon me! How easily I could now let go of life!


Advice to some Ohio schoolgirls:

February 26, 1890. Always try to have the courage of your convictions, and vote as your judgment and conscience dictate.


On a sense of duty

March 31, 1890. My best reflection is that a life spent in duty must be well spent. Whose sense of duty is to determine? Live according to your own conscience.


On Christianity

May 17, 1890. I am not a subscriber to any creed. I belong to no church. But in a sense, satisfactory to myself and believed by me to be important, I try to be a Christian, or rather I want to be a Christian and to help do Christian work.



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