Abraham Lincoln made these remarks in Springfield before boarding the train for Washington 155 years ago today. He transcribed them on the train — it’s Lincoln’s handwriting at first, then his secretary John Nicolay’s. The movement of the train is seen in the scrawl. Click image for a larger version. The text is below.
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. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where 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
Lincoln never saw Springfield again.
Information and idea from Farewell to Springfield.
On this date in 1803 Marbury v. Madison was argued before the Supreme Court.
Marbury was the case that established the Supreme Court’s standing as the arbiter of The Constitution.
On this date in 1856 Dred Scott v. Sandford was argued before the Supreme Court.
Scott was the case where the Supreme Court ruled that persons of African descent could never be citizens of the United States whether free or slave and that the federal government had no constitutional authority to limit slavery in the territories.
On this date in 1778, the United States and France signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. France recognized America as an independent nation and offered trade concessions. The two nations also signed a Treaty of Alliance, which stipulated that if France entered the war, neither country would lay down its arms until America won its independence, that neither would conclude peace with Britain without the consent of the other, and that each guaranteed the other’s possessions in America. This was the only bilateral defense treaty signed by the United States until 1949 (NATO).
… was signed in Mexico City on this date in 1853. The treaty settled the dispute over the exact location of the international border west of Texas and gave the U.S. approximately 29,000 square miles of land — in brief, Arizona and New Mexico south of the Gila River — for the price of $10 million. In the U.S. it’s known as the Gadsden Purchase Treaty.
The Mexican Republic agrees to designate the following as her true limits with the United States for the future: retaining the same dividing line between the two Californias as already defined and established, according to the 5th article of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the limits between the two republics shall be as follows: Beginning in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, as provided in the 5th article of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; thence, as defined in the said article, up the middle of that river to the point where the parallel of 31° 47′ north latitude crosses the same; thence due west one hundred miles; thence south to the parallel of 31° 20′ north latitude; thence along the said parallel of 31° 20′ to the 111th meridian of longitude west of Greenwich; thence in a straight line to a point on the Colorado River twenty English miles below the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers; thence up the middle of the said river Colorado until it intersects the present line between the United States and Mexico.
Read the entire Gadsden Purchase Treaty.
The French colors were lowered and the American flag raised in New Orleans on this date in 1803, signifying the transfer of sovereignty of Louisiana from France to the United States. Arguably the transfer was one of the two or three most defining moments in American history.
As ultimately defined, Louisiana Territory included most of the U.S. west of the Mississippi River, east of the Rocky Mountains, except for Texas and New Mexico; that is, parts or all of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.
… that the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Twenty-seven of the 36 states ratified the amendment between February 1st and December 6, 1865. Five more of the 36 ratified it by early 1866. Texas ratified the amendment in 1870, Delaware in 1901, Kentucky in 1976, and Mississippi in 1995.
On the morning of December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright took turns piloting and monitoring their flying machine in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Orville piloted the first flight that lasted just 12 seconds and 120 feet. On the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilbur traveled 852 feet, remaining airborne for 59 seconds. That morning, the brothers became the first people to demonstrate sustained flight of a heavier-than-air machine under the complete control of the pilot.
Library of Congress
The photograph (click for larger image) shows Orville Wright
at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with his hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright ran alongside to balance the machine, and just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing in the photo. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine.”