Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech that Made Abraham Lincoln President

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Simon & Schuster, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 338 pages
"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.

The Cooper Union speech, which was carefully researched by Lincoln and refers often to the Founders and authors of the Constitution, is an antislavery lecture, capped by a ringing warning to would-be secessionists in the South. It reaches its climax with the assurance that "right makes might." Long held, inaccurately, to be an appeal to the conservatives, Holzer presents Lincoln's speech as a masterly combination of scholarship, a brief for equality and democracy, and a rallying cry to the country and the Republican party.

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 the brilliant and innovative public relations campaign, as Lincolntook the speech "on the road" in his successful quest for the presidency.

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Contents

Introduction I
1
Chapter One Abe Lincoln Must Come
7
Chapter Two So Much Labor as This
28
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Harold Holzer is one of the leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He is a prolific writer and lecturer. He has written, co-written and edited over 30 books including Abraham Lincoln, The Writer (2000), which was named to the Children's Literature Choice List and the Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year, and Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President (2004), which won a 2005 Lincoln Prize. He has also written over 425 popular magazine and scholarly journal articles and numerous pamphlets and monographs. He has won numerous awards including the Barondess Award of the Civil War Round Table of New York five times; the Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York three times; a 1988 George Washington Medal; the 2000 Newman Book Award; and the 2008 National Humanities Medal. He is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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