Remarks at a Fair in the Patent Office
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
I appear to say but a word. This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, "All that a man hath will he give for his life;" and while all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country's cause. The highest merit, then, is due to the soldier.
In this extraordinary war, extraordinary developments have manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents of these fairs are the women of America.
I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy: I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say, that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America.
Abraham Lincoln, Remarks at a Fair in the Patent Office Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/289391