Friday, February 26, 2010

Lincoln at Cooper Union, February 27, 1860

2010 and the ensuing few years will bring the 150th anniversary of many events significant to the Civil War era. One such anniversary occurs this Saturday, marking the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's famed "Cooper Union" speech in New York, a speech that noted historian Harold Holzer claims "made Abraham Lincoln President".

Below is a video from c-span of Sam Waterson re-enacting Lincoln's speech that day. It is long, but a very enjoyable watch, and it's not hard to imagine Lincoln's performance being similar to Waterson's excellent work.

Lincoln's Cooper Union speech portrayed by Sam Waterson

Here also is a link to the text of that speech.

Cooper Union Speech

The famed last line is one of the strongest statements of Lincoln's career, even with the caveat "as we understand it" added to the end.

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.  

(Note on the picture at the head of this post:  It is, of course,  the famous image of Lincoln, taken during his visit to New York. This was perhaps the first nationally-known and spread image of this westerner, likely the first view that many people in the east (or the entire country) saw of their future President.)

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