At last, preferred to all the great leaders of his party, he was made the President of his country. The sheer wonder of it made him know that he had been chosen of God for a great purpose.
I cannot but know what you all know that without a name, perhaps without a reason why I should have a name, there has fallen upon me a task such as did not rest even upon the father of his country; and so feeling I cannot but turn and look for that support without which it will be impossible for me to perform that great task. I turn, then, and look to the great American people and to that God who has never forsaken them.
His farewell to his friends at Springfield as he left to go to Washington shows as does nothing else the new spirit of his life. As with the friends of the Apostle Paul at Miletus, many of them "wept sore, . . . sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more." To them he said:
My Friends: 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 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 I may ever 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. 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.