On the day before his fifty-second birthday, February 11, 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln boarded a train in Springfield, Illinois, and set off for Washington. Before leaving his hometown, he had said a series of good-byes. Ten days earlier he had paid an emotional visit to his aged stepmother and visited the grave of his father. He had hosted a public reception, personally greeting the hundreds of well-wishers who streamed into and out of his house at Eighth and Jackson. The day before, he had made a final, nostalgic visit to his law office and his law partner of sixteen years, William H. Herndon. Inside the Great Western Railway station, just prior to his train's departure, he gravely shook hands with the loyal contingent of close friends who had braved an early morning hour and drizzling rain to see him off. Ordinarily a man of remarkable self-control, Lincoln was unable to disguise his feelings. As he shook hands with his friends, according to a reporter on the scene, "his face was pale and quivered with emotion so deep as to render him almost unable to utter a single word."
-Douglas L. Wilson, Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words