Washington: Democrat Barack Obama wrote his name indelibly into the pages of American history Tuesday, engineering a social and political upheaval to become the country’s first black president-elect in a runaway victory over Republican John McCain.
The 72-year-old Arizona senator quickly called his opponent to concede defeat and congratulate his rival in the longest and most costly presidential campaign in American history.
The 47-year-old Illinois senator, son of a white mother from Kansas and an African father from Kenya, mined a deep vein of national discontent, promising Americans hope and change throughout a nearly flawless 21-month campaign for the White House.
Obama stepped through a door opened 145 years ago when Abraham Lincoln, a fellow Illinois politician, issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed African-Americans from enslavement in the rebellious South in the midst of a wrenching civil war.
The powerful orator lays claim to the White House on 20 January, only 43 years after the country enacted a law that banned the disenfranchisement of blacks in many Southern states where poll taxes and literacy tests were common at the time.
With victories in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other battleground states, Obama built a commanding lead over McCain after surging in the polls in the midst of a national financial crisis. He and his fellow Democrats sought to link McCain to the unpopular George W. Bush.
Obama soared into the national spotlight with his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he was making his first run for the Senate and polishing his message of unity in a country that was mired in partisan anger.
Democrats also were expanding their majorities in both chambers of Congress.