Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2000

Department 1

Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



The most eloquent and moving words Abraham Lincoln ever uttered about any community were those "few and simple words" he spoke on the rear platform of the railroad car that lay waiting on the morning of February 11, 1861, to take him to Washington, to the presidency, and ultimately to his death. As his "own breast heaved with emotion" so that "he could scarcely command his feelings sufficiently to commence" (in the description of James C. Conkling), Lincoln declared that "No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting." To leave Springfield was to leave the only real home he had ever known. His professional life had been bound up in Springfield; he had married, raised a family, and been elected to Congress from Springfield; he had refused offers to relocate to Chicago and (so it was rumored later) even New York City to remain in Springfield. "To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything," Lincoln said. [excerpt]