The major networks are calling the presidential election for Illinois senator Barack Obama, the first African American to win the office. Jubilant crowds across the nation celebrated the historic moment, which brought eight years of the Republican rule of George W. Bush to an end.
At 10:15, his opponent, Republican John McCain offered his concession speech to a crowd on the lawn of the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. He said Senator Obama had achieved "a great thing," and offered his condolences for the death of Obama's grandmother as well as seemingly heartfelt congratulations.
"I have always been a fortunate man," McCain said, as he thanked his family and his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, whom he called one of the "best campaigners" he'd ever seen. "A lost election will never mean more to me than your support and friendship," McCain concluded.
Forty-five minutes later, in Chicago, Obama addressed a joyous crowd estimated at 100,000 people in Grant Park. He and his family emerged on the stage to the fading strains of Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher."
Obama thanked his family, his campaign team, his running mate, Joe Biden, and his supporters. He made a gracious nod to McCain, citing his opponent's bravery and service to America.
"You did this because you understand the enormity of the challenges ahead," Obama told his supporters. He enumerated the problems "we face," including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the healthcare and economic crises.
"You may not always agree with the actions I take, but I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face," he said. "We rise or fall as one nation, one people ... I need your help."
"A new dawn of American leadership is at hand," he said.