Urbana Participated in Attempt to Set New Guinness World Record with Reading of Historic Lincoln Speech

Date: 
February 11, 2011 - 11:00am

On Friday, February 11th at 11 a.m. the City of Urbana held a reading of Abraham Lincoln's 1861 "Farewell Address" as part of a nationwide observance of the anniversary of the Civil War. The reading was part of an attempt to beat the existing Guinness World Record of 223, 363 participants for most simultaneous readings from the same document. At Urbana's event, Mayor Laurel Lunt Prussing led 54 participants in the reading. 

Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois

President-elect Abraham Lincoln - February 11, 1861Abraham Lincoln

"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 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’s “Farewell Address,” delivered when the president-elect departed for Washington, D.C., was re-enacted on its 150th anniversary at the Great Western Depot in Springfield and a live webcast was set up to allow anyone in the nation to participate in the reading. Guinness World Records requires that the readings last at least five minutes so participants read the “Farewell Address” three times to meet the threshold for the record.

The lobby at the City Building was decorated with a Lincoln/Civil War display including a large photo of Lincoln, a copy of the speech printed in the newspaper of the time and photos of Civil War soldiers. Attendees also got a sneak peak of the Urbana Lincoln Historic Past Casts that the city is producing – an audio visual look back at our Lincoln heritage.

For more information, contact Rebecca Bird at (217)384-2440 at the City of Urbana.