WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama will arrive here for his inauguration by train from Philadelphia, making a journey with echoes of the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln.
Obama plans events in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore during the Jan. 17 trip, his inaugural committee announced Monday.
"We hope to include as many Americans as possible who wish to participate but can't be in Washington," said Emmett Beliveau, executive director of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
The announcement noted that Philadelphia — where the nation's founders shaped the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution — is where America's "promise was realized." Baltimore is where Francis Scott Key wrote The Star-Spangled Banner. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will join the Obama train in Wilmington, his home.
Inaugural train trips were the rule in the pre-jet era, starting with William Henry Harrison in 1841.
Philadelphia is a logical starting point, said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, especially for the nation's first black president. The framers of the Constitution — all white males — "set in motion something that is still a work in progress," he said.
Obama's proposed trip also stirs images of Lincoln, whose pre-White House journey included a celebrated stop in Philadelphia. Security officials had asked Lincoln to skip Philadelphia because of a suspected assassination plot, Smith said. Lincoln ignored the advice and visited Independence Hall, expressing "deep emotion" for the place "from which sprang the institutions under which we live."