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Lincoln at Cooper Union
Cover of Lincoln at Cooper Union
Lincoln at Cooper Union
The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President
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Lincoln at Cooper Union explores Lincoln's most influential and widely reported pre-presidential address—an extraordinary appeal by the western politician to the eastern elite that propelled him toward the Republican nomination for president. Delivered in New York in February 1860, the Cooper Union speech dispelled doubts about Lincoln's suitability for the presidency and reassured conservatives of his moderation while reaffirming his opposition to slavery to Republican progressives.

Award-winning Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer places Lincoln and his speech in the context of the times—an era of racism, politicized journalism, and public oratory as entertainment—and shows how the candidate framed the speech as an opportunity to continue his famous "debates" with his archrival Democrat Stephen A. Douglas on the question of slavery.

Holzer describes the enormous risk Lincoln took by appearing in New York, where he exposed himself to the country's most critical audience and took on Republican Senator William Henry Seward of New York, the front-runner, in his own backyard. Then he recounts a brilliant and innovative public relations campaign, as Lincoln took the speech "on the road" in his successful quest for the presidency.

Lincoln at Cooper Union explores Lincoln's most influential and widely reported pre-presidential address—an extraordinary appeal by the western politician to the eastern elite that propelled him toward the Republican nomination for president. Delivered in New York in February 1860, the Cooper Union speech dispelled doubts about Lincoln's suitability for the presidency and reassured conservatives of his moderation while reaffirming his opposition to slavery to Republican progressives.

Award-winning Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer places Lincoln and his speech in the context of the times—an era of racism, politicized journalism, and public oratory as entertainment—and shows how the candidate framed the speech as an opportunity to continue his famous "debates" with his archrival Democrat Stephen A. Douglas on the question of slavery.

Holzer describes the enormous risk Lincoln took by appearing in New York, where he exposed himself to the country's most critical audience and took on Republican Senator William Henry Seward of New York, the front-runner, in his own backyard. Then he recounts a brilliant and innovative public relations campaign, as Lincoln took the speech "on the road" in his successful quest for the presidency.

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About the Author-
  • Harold Holzer has authored, coauthored, and edited more than thirty books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. He serves as chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, and is a Roger Hertog Fellow at the New York Historical Society. Currently he is senior vice president for external affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lives in Rye, New York.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 8, 2004
    Few people know more about Abraham Lincoln than Holzer (editor of Lincoln the Writer
    ; Lincoln Seen and Heard
    ; etc.). This fine new work focuses on a widely known but little studied address that Lincoln delivered early in 1860 in New York City, which Holzer believes made Lincoln the Republican candidate and therefore president. While one has to credit other political and historical factors, Holzer is probably right. Surely no one will again overlook this masterful speech, even if it never rose to the eloquence of the Gettysburg Address. That's precisely one of Holzer's main arguments: that the speech was intended as a learned, historically grounded, legally powerful rebuttal to claims of Lincoln's great Democratic opponent, Stephen Douglas, about the constitutionality of slavery's spread into the territories. But how, Holzer asks, did a long speech hold its audience at Cooper Union and then infuse tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers with enthusiasm for the man? The answer lies in large part with the nature of American culture—a highly politicized one of readers—in the 1860s. But as Holzer also makes clear, Lincoln conceived of the speech as part of an astute strategy to win his party's nomination. While his political wizardry will surprise few readers, they'll learn again how it was combined with intellectual power and a fierce determination to clarify his moral convictions. It was on this visit to New York that Matthew Brady shot his most celebrated portrait of Lincoln (which appears on the book jacket). Holzer devotes a fascinating chapter to this episode. Agent, Geri Thoma.

  • Civil War Times "This book is a must for anyone fascinated by Abraham Lincoln."
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Lincoln at Cooper Union
Lincoln at Cooper Union
The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President
Harold Holzer
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