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Lincoln’s Journey to Washington

February 10, 2014

According to Google Maps, depending upon the route, it is anywhere from 780 to 851 miles from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C., but when the President-elect departed from the Great Western Railroad depot in 1861, he began a journey of 1,904 miles between the two cities.  There were more than 90 stops as he rode through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, into Pennsylvania, back into Ohio, back into Pennsylvania before crossing New York state, down through New Jersey, into Pennsylvania a third time, and through Maryland before reaching his destination at the nation’s capital.  The journey began on February 11, the day before Lincoln’s 52nd birthday.  As he boarded the train that morning, he paused and spoke the following words to the neighbors who attended his departure.

“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 every thing.  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…”

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