US President Barack Obama has issued an emotional defence of his vision to Americans facing a moment of anxiety and a dramatic change in leadership.
In his valedictory speech in his hometown of Chicago, Obama said America is a "better, stronger place" than when he was first elected in 2008.
Obama attributed the nation's advances to the efforts of the American people who trusted in his message of hope and change eight years ago.
Obama's speech was a public meditation on the trials and triumphs, promises kept and promises broken that made up his time in the White House.
His delivery was forceful for most of his speech, but by the end he was wiping away tears as the crowd embraced him one last time.
Reflecting on the corrosive recent political campaign, he said: "That potential will be realised only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now."
He made no mention of Republican Donald Trump, who will replace him in just 10 days. But when he noted the imminence of that change and the crowd began booing, he responded, "No, no, no, no, no." One of America's great strengths, he said, "is the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next."
Earlier, as the crowd of thousands chanted, "Four more years," he simply smiled and said, "I can't do that."
TRANSCRIPT OF HIS FINAL WORDS (Read the full speech here):
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes, we can.
Yes, we did.
Yes, we can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.