Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cooper Union Address

A key speech in Lincoln's rise to the head of the Republican Party was the Cooper Union Address on February 27, 1860, shown here in its entirety. Miller noted in Lincoln's Virtues that many prominent Northeast leaders were in attendance including Henry Ward Beecher, who had first invited Lincoln to New York. Lincoln was anxious to impress his fellow Republicans. Herndon noted, "no former effort in the line of speech-making had cost Lincoln so much time and thought as this one." The speech was extremely well-received and published in newspapers throughout the United States.


There are books devoted exclusively to the Cooper Union Address by Harold Holzer and John Corry.


  1. Thanks for all these great links, Gintaras.

    While I found Gopnik's discussion of Darwin more interesting, his main point about Lincoln was his use of language, particularly the language of the law, to construct an argument.

    He writes:

    "All good styles are lucid, but each is lucid in its own way, and in a way shaped by the sounds of its time. We admire Lincoln for being so literary, but when we say that Lincoln was a great writer, it isn't his poetry we're thinking of; it's his speeches. He was a great writer whose form was talking. That was natural. The frontier-Southern fringe society in which he was growing up was, first to last, a rhetorical society, and an oratorical society."

    I hope others will join in.

  2. Not surprisingly, there are books devoted specifically to the Cooper Union Speech, including this one by Harold Holzer,

    which I've now bookmarked above.