U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his family have arrived in Washington for Tuesday's inauguration. Saturday's day-long train trip, stopping in four cities, was the final leg of Mr. Obama's nearly two-year journey to the White House.
The trip began early Saturday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the United States began in 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Before boarding the train, President-elect Obama told a crowd he hopes the nation can again capture the spirit of its founders.
"I believed that our future is our choice, and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, north, south, east and west, black, white, Latino, Asian, and Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process," he said.
For Mr. Obama, his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha, the 220-kilometer ride from Philadelphia to Washington was a symbolic journey. The man who will become the nation's first African-American president was retracing part of the route taken by his political hero, President Abraham Lincoln, to his first inauguration in 1861. Like Mr. Obama, Lincoln, who declared an end to slavery in America, spent much of his adult life in Illinois before being elected president.
After Philadelphia, the train stopped in Wilmington, Delaware, the home town of Vice President-elect Joe Biden. Before boarding the train, Biden told almost eight-thousand people who braved the winter cold that the warm "spring" of better times is coming. "Our economy is struggling. We are a nation at war. Sometimes, just sometimes, it's hard to believe that we'll see the spring again. But I tell you, spring is on the way with this new administration," he said.
At Wilmington's train station, Mr. Obama reflected on Biden's working class upbringing, and vowed that both men will fight for working Americans. "And we will fight for you every single day that we're in Washington, because Joe and I are both committed to leading a government that is accountable - not just to the wealthy or the well-connected, but to you. To the conductors who make our trains run, and to the workers who lay down the rails. To the parents who worry about how they're going to pay next month's bills on the commute to work, and to the children who hear the whistle of the train and dream of a better life," he rold the crowd.
Mr. Obama gave his final address of the day outside the city hall in Baltimore, Maryland, before an enthusiastic crowd estimated at 40,000 people. "Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast: An economy that's faltering, two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely, a planet that's warming, although you can't tell today, from our unsustainable dependence on oil," he said.
The President-elect again called on Americans to show the same perseverance and idealism that the country's early patriots displayed. "What's required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives and in our own hearts, from ideology and small thinking, from prejudice and bigotry, from selfishness and narrow interests, that appeal, not to our easy instincts, but to our better angels," he said.
The Obamas and Mr. and Mrs. Biden concluded their journey in Washington, where several days of pre-inauguration festivities are taking place.
An estimated one million people are expected outside the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, for a concert featuring a series of big-name entertainers.
And at midday Tuesday, Mr. Obama will take the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States.