“Hello, Chicago.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts
that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the
dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our
democracy, tonight is your answer.

“It’s the answer told by lines that stretched
around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who
waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives,
because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could
be that difference.

“It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and
poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American,
gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans who sent a message to the
world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection
of red states and blue states.

“We are, and always will be, the United States of

“It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told
for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can
achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward
the hope of a better day.

“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight,
because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment,
change has come to America.

“A little bit earlier this evening, I received an
extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.

“Senator McCain fought long and hard in this
campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves.
He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine.
We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

“I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor
(Sarah) Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with
them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

“I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man
who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with
on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice
president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

“And I would not be standing here tonight without
the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our
family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.

“Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can
imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new
White House.

“And while she’s no longer with us, I know my
grandmother’ s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them
tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

“To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other
brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given
me. I am grateful to them.

“And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the
unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best – the best political campaign,
I think, in the history of the United States of America.

“To my chief strategist David Axelrod who’s been a
partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled
in the history of politics, you made this happen and I am forever grateful for
what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

“But above all, I will never forget who this
victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

“I was never the likeliest candidate for this

“We didn’t start with much money or many

“Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of
Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of
Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

“It was built by working men and women who dug
into what little savings they had to give 5 and 10 and 20 to the cause.

“It grew strength from the young people who
rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy, who left their homes and their
families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

“It drew strength from the not-so-young people who
braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect
strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organised and
proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the
people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

“This is your victory.

“And I know you didn’t do this just to win an
election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

“You did it because you understand the enormity of
the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the
challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars,
a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

“Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are
brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of
Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

“There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake
after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay
their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

“There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be
created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be
steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I
have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

“I promise you, we as a people will get there.

“There will be setbacks and false starts. There
are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And
we know the government can’t solve every problem.

“But I will always be honest with you about the
challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And,
above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only
way it’s been done in America for 221 years – block by block, brick by brick,
calloused hand by calloused hand.

“What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter
cannot end on this autumn night.

“This victory alone is not the change we seek. It
is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go
back to the way things were.

“It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit
of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of
responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look
after not only ourselves but each other.

“Let us remember that, if this financial crisis
taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main
Street suffers.

“In this country, we rise or fall as one nation,
as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship
and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

“Let’s remember that it was a man from this state
who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party
founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national

“Those are values that we all share. And while the
Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of
humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

“As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than
ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must
not break our bonds of affection.

“And to those Americans whose support I have yet
to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need
your help. And I will be your president, too.

“And to all those watching tonight from beyond our
shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in
the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is
shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

“To those – to those who would tear the world
down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you.
And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright:
Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from
the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of
our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

“That’s the true genius of America: that America
can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us
hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

“This election had many firsts and many stories
that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a
woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others
who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one
thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

“She was born just a generation past slavery; a
time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like
her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the
colour of her skin.

“And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen
throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and
the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed
on with that American creed: Yes we can.

“At a time when women’s voices were silenced and
their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach
for the ballot. Yes we can.

“When there was despair in the dust bowl and
depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New
Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

“When the bombs fell on our harbour and tyranny
threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness
and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

“She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the
hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a
people that ‘We Shall Overcome’. Yes we can.

“A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down
in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

“And this year, in this election, she touched her
finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America,
through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can

“Yes we can.

“America, we have come so far. We have seen so
much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our
children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky
to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress
will we have made?

“This is our chance to answer that call. This is
our moment.

“This is our time, to put our people back to work
and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote
the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental
truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where
we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will
respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we

“Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the
United States of America.”