Here’s a fun fact you can impress your friends with on this glorious Friday in Rochester… Today is the 150th anniversary of perhaps the most famous tour stops in Rochester’s history. On February 18, 1861 good ole’ Abe Lincoln popped in to say ‘Hey dudes!’.
Okay so it didn’t exactly go like that. Lincoln was traveling by train from his home in Illinois to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration. The train arrived in Rochester at eight o’clock in the morning on February 18. Lincoln’s schedule called for him to address the public that morning from the first floor corner balcony of the Waverly Hotel (later known as the Savoy Hotel). But due to a last minute scheduling change he delivered the speech from the observation platform of his official train while on its journey to Washington.
It was reported by Journalist Henry Villard that a crowd of people in excess of 8,000 filled the space around the tracks and the Rochester Depot. The speech was brief but was heard by one of the largest crowds on the president’s entire trip to the Capitol.
Here’s what President-elect Lincoln actually said:
I confess myself, after having seen large audiences since leaving home, overwhelmed with this vast number of faces at this hour of the morning. I am not vain enough to believe that you are here from any wish to see me as an individual, but because I am, for the time being, the representative of the American people. I could not, if I would address you at any length. I have not the strength, even if I had the time, for a speech at these many interviews that are afforded me on my way to Washington. I appear merely to see you, and to let you see me, and to bid you farewell. I hope it will be understood that it is from no disposition to disoblige anybody, that I do not address you at greater length. [Roy P. Basler, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, p. 222.]
Today, the railroad tracks are elevated, and the only trace of Lincoln’s visit is the “Lincoln Tablet”, a plaque bolted to the side of the railroad bridge at the Inner Loop and Mill Street in the High Falls District.
Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Rochester, Rochester history, Savoy Hotel, this date in Rochester history
This entry was posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 12:00 am and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Train/Railroad Stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.