Abraham Lincoln's Farewell Address
President of the United States
Assassination and legacy
On February 11, 1861, several thousand citizens of Springfield, Illinois gathered to see Lincoln depart for his inauguration in Washington, D.C. In response, he gave this brief, impromptu speech from his railroad car:
My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
The speech moved members of his entourage so much that after the train started, he was asked to put his words into writing. Because of the difficulty of doing so on a moving train, Lincoln asked his personal secretary, John Nicolay, to finish copying it down after a few sentences.
A second version of the speech was published in a Springfield newspaper a few days later.
- 1860 United States presidential election
- Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
- Gettysburg Address
- Presidency of Abraham Lincoln
- Religious views of Abraham Lincoln
- "Lincoln's Farewell". Memory: American Treasures of the Library of Congress.
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