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

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  610 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Winner of the Lincoln Prize

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 suita
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 27th 2004)
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Glenn Robinson I greatly enjoyed it-twice. Lincoln is much more deeper than most of us realize. In light of the 2016 campaign, I think Lincoln would be very thrilled…moreI greatly enjoyed it-twice. Lincoln is much more deeper than most of us realize. In light of the 2016 campaign, I think Lincoln would be very thrilled with the need to have a strong strategy, a deep network and a rewards systems. This book showed the power of the speech, the willingness to take a stand and stick to it and the willingness to work hard in the back rooms.(less)

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Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few months back I had finished Harold Holzer's "Lincoln: President-Elect" and therefore anticipated another five stars. I was not disappointed. If I were to read these two books again however, I would read this book first.

Lately, I have been trying to better familiarize myself with some of the most important documents and speeches of our nation's history, and Lincoln's Cooper Union ranks pretty close to the top. Lincoln basically summarizes the north/south conflict with slavery, and presents h
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book that I've now read twice: once a few years ago and now a second time after borrowing it from my son (conveniently I gave it to him ). It is not simply a discussion of the speech at New York's Cooper Union that helped Lincoln become nominated and elected, but almost a biography of Lincoln covering the time period from October 1859 until his election in November 1860. Besides including the entire speech in an appendix and using a chapter to discuss and analyze the speech, there are ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in Lincoln's speeches
Lincoln's speech at Cooper Union was the event which secured him the Republican nomination in 1860. This speech was unlike many of his prior ones in that he did much more research and used a lot of statistics to prove his his point that the founders intended slavery to be "in the course of ultimate extinction." It was an overwhelming success in front of a sophisticated New York City audience. The other important event of this trip was a Matthew Brady portrait which became the iconic image for th ...more
David Myers
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
Lincoln's Cooper Union Speech is arguably his most famous speech that most of us know nothing about. His speech at Coopers Union elucidated his overall positions on the most important issue of the time. In a time when news traveled in days or weeks Lincoln's speech traveled by newspaper and a (bestselling) pamphlet. His major stances were laid out and informed the voting public ( white men)of Republican positions. This famous address was to a large extent responsible for Lincoln's election to th ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book that tells the story of one of Lincoln's most successful (but as Holzer notes, least quoted) speeches. At this point in his political career, Lincoln was something of an also-ran when people talked about who the nominee would be for the Republicans in the upcoming 1860 election. The frontrunner was New York's own William Seward. This was Lincoln's first chance to speak to an eastern audience.

Fun facts about like that Lincoln's original invitation was to give his speech in Brook
Nathan Albright
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book corrects what is a curious and unfortunate lacuna in the historical record about Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, and that is the absence of a substantial work on the Cooper Union Address, one of the most famous speeches hardly anyone has ever read. It is curious that given the huge attention the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln commands that this is the first full-length book ever that deals with the first and only major speech given by Abraham Lincoln during the entire 1860 presidential camp ...more
John Daly
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lincoln was a Western politician with few if little notice in the East. As the country was moving towards the Election of 1860 Lincoln needed to become the alternative to Republican frontrunner William Steward. That opportunity came in the form of the Copper Union Speech. The speech was sponsored by a group of New York Republicans seeking an alternative to Steward.

Harold Holzers book is the history of this speech and explains its importance to getting Lincoln first the nomination and then the P
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
In this book the author makes a convincing argument that this speech helped to make Lincoln president. More important he provides good evidence that without this speech and everything that grew out of it Lincoln would not even have been nominated.
The author makes good use of the different sources available in telling the story in chronological fashion. The use of letters, newspaper headlines and quoted dialog provide a variety that gives some pace to narrative history that some authors make dull
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think that I have read more books about Lincoln and the Civil War period than just about any other topic and that is since I was a kid reading the Chicago Tribune with its daily article about what had happened 100 years before...this was during the Civil War Centennial of 1961-65! So this is yet another Lincoln book. But it was interesting to me as it focused on one crucial event in Lincoln's life. That is the speech Lincoln delivered at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City in Febr ...more
Joseph Iliff
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this examination of Lincoln work at Cooper Union. Holzer has placed the book within the historical context in which it was arranged, delivered, and later remembered. There are a ton of details, but none that I can think of that I deemed unnecessary. Each of them is woven into a tapestry of how this one speech, on one day, changed Lincoln, and subsequently America. Holzer makes a compelling case that Lincoln stepped out on the stage at Cooper Union like a unassuming batter steppi ...more
Jacob Lines
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Abraham Lincoln’s speech at the Cooper Union in 1860 turned him into a serious presidential candidate. This book is a marvelous look at the speech’s content, context, and effect. It starts with the invitation to speak and follows Lincoln as he prepares the speech, travels to New York, and gives the speech. As it does, Holzer explains the issues of the day – the problems, the proposed solutions, and the differences between parties and leaders within parties. Then he offers a detailed description ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Harold Holzer, another brilliant Lincoln historian (if you need proof, he was one of the on-call references for the recent Lincoln movie by Spielberg), narrates the events surrounding Lincoln's masterful Cooper Union speech. This is one of Lincoln's most famous speeches, because it propelled him into the limelight of politics and essentially secured his place on the Republican ballot in 1860, which then led to his election. If you're interested in history, especially the history an ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fantastic story that I had never heard before. All historians should read this book; not only because of the interesting subject, but because of the writing style. This book is a perfect example of how history should be recorded. The book was part of a required reading list in my historical methods class.
Richard Campbell
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating minute-by-minute account of Lincoln's travel to NYC for his "Cooper Union" speech, a final rebuttal to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and the response that essentially won him the Presidency. Detailed and engrossing.
Rod Zemke
Aug 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a clssic for anyone who wants to have more than a beginners knowledge of American History. The book is well written by an eminent Lincoln scholar who is not an academic--sometimes the best combination.
Don Dennis
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: many friends
Fascinating delineation of the lead-up to the most important speech Lincoln ever made. A real nugget of a book.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war, history
Holzer is an engaging author. His narrative focuses mainly on Lincoln's speech and a Matthew Brady photograph, yet he crafts a compelling story. But, then again, I'm a bit of a Lincoln nerd . . .
Robin Friedman
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Cooper Union Address

In October, 1859, a small group of young Republican leaders in New York City invited Abraham Lincoln to give an address at Henry Beecher's church in Brooklyn on a subject of Lincoln's choosing. At the time, Lincoln was heavily involved in helping Republican Congressional candidates, was still smarting from his 1858 defeat for the Senate by Stephen Douglas, and was a dark-horse, favorite son for the Republican presidential nomination. Lincoln accepted the invitation, worke
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Herbert Donald's life work on Lincoln left us with a definitive and dispassionate biography that refused to glorify or demonize a president that society views emotionally, rather than objectively. Donald's greatest literary and historical accomplishment was rewriting Lincoln's two century old history as history. Donald's understudy, Harold Holzer, who worked closely with him until his death, is now the most important Lincoln historian alive today.

Holzer doesn't write over the ground that
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
a look inside an extremely brief week in Lincoln's New York visit that left him exhausted without sleep. first the invitation to speak at a church turned out to be not an assembly of church goers in pews, but rather twisted in a turn-about, a large assembly auditorium filled with the intellectual elite of the city. the contrast of a hick persona amidst the polished educated thinkers and leaders of the day faded quickly to the credit of the audience as Lincoln's straight forward speech revealed h ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Lincoln at Cooper Union was about the speech he made in NYC in early 1860 that put him on a path to the presidency. While I found Holzer's analysis of the content of the speech fascinating, the rest of the book focused on minutiae that Lincoln fanatics might appreciate but did not hold my interest. Holzer presented the speech itself as the final installment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in which Abe made a legal case that the ratifiers of the Constitution would have been OK with the federal gov ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sounds like I shall have to go look for Sam Waterson's presentation of this speech on YouTube. Even with the author's explanation it is hard to see why this famous speech of Lincoln's has not been more widely known.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well-written and researched account of how the Cooper Union speech was arranged, delivered, and published. I had the Audible version and I liked the reader’s portrayal of Lincoln delivering this speech and lines from other addresses.
R.K. Byers
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
the writing on that era in New York was the best but i think i liked the book more than it was "good".
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book about the time period, the man and the speech that made Lincoln a contender.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
The author concentrated more on the journey towards giving the speech rather than the speech.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lincoln: great fucking guy. Also lied about payments made for speeches.
Thomas Rush
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Mecca of New York looms large in the American consciousness for a variety of reasons. It's “The Big Apple,” “The City-That-Never-Sleeps,” and so much more. One of the reasons that it looms so large is the fact that its 10 million inhabitants makes it one of The World's most populous cities, and that, in the most powerful nation on Earth.
It's a complicated city, that has both in its spiritual and material resources, something to please any and everyone. There is nothing that cannot be found
Vincent Li
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I consider myself a relatively boring person, in that I find interest in niche and obscure topics. Being a relatively boring person, I found this book...pretty boring. It has nothing to do with Holzer's writing or research, which is actually pretty thorough and rigorous. I'm impressed by Holzer's study of meteorological reports, and old train schedules.

At points the book does seem to be on such a niche topic that its length needs to be inflated. For example, there's substantial sections tied to
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
The speech Lincoln gave at New York's Cooper Institute in February of 1860 made him President. Harold Holzer tells the story of how Lincoln came to be invited to make this trip East, his research into the speech, and its immediate and longer-term aftereffects. He also includes the speech itself, of course, and good analysis of what was in the speech and why it was so important.

The speech had three parts: the first was an answer to some comments Stephen Douglas had made about the founders and sla
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