I've recently taken you along on our visit to Springfield, Illinois.
|Old State Capitol Building|
We saw Abraham Lincoln's tomb(s),
and his home,
and I appreciate the positive comments on those posts that I've received from some of you - through this blog and through email. I have a special fondness for Abraham Lincoln - maybe because he was President during the Civil War. Since I have ancestors who served in that war, I find that era especially interesting. I don't believe any other man could have served us so effectively at that time in history. 152 years have passed since his assassination, but Abraham Lincoln continues to appear at or near the top of every list of "best Presidents."
In his memoirs, General William T. Sherman wrote this of Abraham Lincoln: "Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other." Isn't that a wonderful tribute?
Lincoln was truly a remarkable man - known for his compassion, his humor, and his eloquence. I remember reading somewhere that Lincoln never wasted words in his letters or in his speeches. So, before we leave the topic of Lincoln, I want to share the text of one of his speeches with you. This speech is one that is inscribed on a plaque in his permanent tomb. It's the farewell speech he gave at the depot in Springfield on February 11, 1861 - just as he was leaving for Washington, DC - about to assume the office of President of the United States - and knowing that our country was most certainly on the verge of civil war.
There are 3 known versions of this speech. It is believed that this version is the most accurate, as it was printed the following day in the Illinois State Journal, a Springfield newspaper.
Friends, 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 have 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 sacred 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. Today I leave you;
I go to assume a task more difficult than that which
devolved upon General Washington.
Unless the great God who assisted him, shall be with and aid me,
I must fail. But if the Omniscient Mind and the same Almighty 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 security and faith, you all will invoke His wisdom and guidance for me.
With these few words I must leave you -- for how long I know not.
Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate farewell.
The Illinois State Journal noted, "It was a most impressive scene. We have known Mr. Lincoln for many years; we have heard him speak upon a hundred different occasions; but we never saw him so profoundly affected, nor did he ever utter an address, which seemed to us as full of simple and touching eloquence, so exactly adopted to the occasion, so worthy of the man and the hour. Although it was raining fast when he began to speak, every hat was lifted, and every head bent forward to catch the last words of the departing chief. When he said, with the earnestness of a sudden inspiration of feeling, that with God's help he should not fail, there was an uncontrollable burst of applause. At precisely eight o'clock, city time, the train moved off, bearing our honored townsman, our noble chief, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, to the scenes of his future labors, and, as we firmly believe, of his glorious triumph. God bless honest ABRAHAM LINCOLN!"
Abraham Lincoln never did return to Springfield - until his body made the trip aboard his funeral train in May of 1865.