NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton walked onto the stage Wednesday morning not to deliver a victory speech under a symbolic glass ceiling but to thank the campaign staff behind her ultimately unsuccessful bid to be the first woman elected U.S. President. 

Hundreds of staffers and supporters had gathered at the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan to hear Clinton speak publicly for the first time after her bruising loss to New York real estate magnate Donald Trump in the early hours of the morning.

Many were in the same clothes as the night before, having stayed up all night after leaving the glass-ceilinged Jacob J. Javits Convention Center to hear shortly thereafter that Clinton had called Trump to concede. 

As they filed into the ballroom, there were tears, hugs, and disbelief that Clinton, a former secretary of state, U.S senator and first lady, had again failed to shatter what Clinton called the “highest and hardest glass ceiling” after her first attempt in 2008 to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought, but I still believe in America and I always will, and if you do then we must accept this result and then look to the future,” Clinton said, flanked by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, her daughter Chelsea Clinton and Chelsea’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky.

Clinton was wearing a black suit with purple lapels - the color created by combining blue and red, the colors used by the two U.S. political parties -and not the suffragette white that many expected Tuesday night. 

Clinton urged unity in the wake of defeat.

“Donald Trump is going to be our president, we owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” she added.

Likely facing her last opportunity for a presidential run, Clinton, 69, acknowledged the bitter sting of an election defeat in which initial results show she won more votes but came up short in proportional electoral vote awarded by state.

“To the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this,” Clinton said.

“I’ve had successes, and I’ve had setbacks, sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public, political careers. You will have successes and setbacks too. This setback hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.”

By Amanda Becker

(Additional by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Alexander and Alden Bentley)

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