to Springfield Speech
Springfield, Illinois February 11, 1861
Farewell to Springfield, February 11, 1861
A touching good-bye message to his hometown friends.
One of Abraham Lincoln's most beloved short speeches, the
extemporaneous Farewell Address was given on February 11,
1861, the day he left his hometown for Washington. The scene
was the Springfield, Illinois Great Western railroad depot,
now a restored private office with a public exhibit area.
Lincoln and his family moved out of their home on 8th and
Jackson on February 8, 1861. They stayed a few days in the
Chenery House Hotel. On February 11, 1861, a day before
his 52nd birthday, President-elect Lincoln boarded a specially
arranged Inaugural Train at the Great Western Depot. Before
the train pulled out Lincoln made a few remarks to the crowd
in which he summed up his years in Springfield and spoke
about the task before him.
When Abraham Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, to start
his inaugural journey for Washington, D.C., he paid an unforgettable
tribute to his friends and neighbors in what is known today
as the Farewell Address. Lincoln spoke these famous, emotion-charged
words as he boarded a special presidential train at the
Great Western Railroad station, now a restored private office
with a public exhibit area.
day Lincoln saw this depot for the last time he recognized
most of the people in the huge crowd gathered outside.
Ahead of him was war, death, and enduring fame; behind
him were the warm-hearted people who elicited the following
speech, given by Abraham Lincoln as he departed Springfield,
Illinois, to go to Washington to become president of the
United States. A thousand citizens gathered to see Lincoln
and his family depart. Lincoln, of course, never returned.
Two versions of the speech follow, one purporting to be
partly from the original manuscript in Lincoln's handwriting
and partly from Lincoln's secretary as dictated by Lincoln.
The second version was printed in 1861 in a Springfield
Farewell Address in Springfield Version 1
no one who has never been placed in a like position can
understand my feelings at this hour, nor the oppressive
sadness I feel at this parting. For more than a quarter
of a century I hve lived among you, and during all that
time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands.
Here I have lived from my youth until now I am an old
man. Here the most cherished ties of earth were assumed.
Here all my children were born and here one of them lies
buried. To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all
that I am. All the strange checkered past seems to crowd
now upon my mind.
I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than
that which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great
God who assisted him shall be with andaid me I must fail;
but if the same omniscient mind and mighty arm that directed
and protected him shall guide and support me I shall not
fail -- I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God
of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him I commend
you all. Permit me to ask that with equal sincerity and
faith you will invoke His wisdom and guidance for me.
With these words I must leave you -- for how long I know
not. Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate
Farewell Address in Springfield Version 2
friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my
feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place and
the kindness of this 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
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 can not succeed. With that assistance
I can not fail.
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."