New Exhibits Will Keep Spirit of Abraham Lincoln Alive in Springfield
Byline: Mary Lou Cowlishaw
Feb. 11, 1861 - President-elect Lincoln, about to board the train in Springfield to go to Washington, D.C.:
"My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate the 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 the 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."
March 4, 1861 - Abraham Lincoln inaugurated president of the United States.
April 12, 1861 - Civil War begins.
Lincoln's farewell address, often called his "Here I have lived" speech, is my favorite. He was leaving his beloved Springfield, where he had enjoyed so much success, to face an uncertain future.
He had been elected president, but president of what? It was not at all certain there would continue to be a United States.
Lincoln's first inaugural speech emphasizes that concern. It was written in Springfield about the same time as his farewell speech and is a plea that America remain united, that there be no secession by the southern states.
We all know too well that his plea went unheeded and a terrible war ensued.
After his assassination on April 15, 1865, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln insisted that her husband's body be returned to Springfield and buried there. …