Abraham Lincoln's Farewell Address

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Lincoln's Farewell Address was a speech made by president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois on February 11, 1861 [1] on his way to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. Several thousand citizens of Illinois gathered to see Lincoln depart. In response, Lincoln gave this brief, impromptu speech from his railroad car shortly before he departed:

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.

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  1. ^ Library of Congress, manuscript exhibit, "Lincoln's Farewell". American Treasuries of the Library of Congress

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