Saturday, February 24, 2007
This being February, it seems appropriate to include some information on the 16th President of the United States.
The above photograph of Abraham Lincoln was taken a year before Lincoln was to become President. It became known as the Cooper Union photograph and was taken by the famous photographer, Mathew Brady.
On February 22, 1860, (Washington's birthday) Candidate Lincoln quitely boarded a train in Springfield, Illinois to begin the long trip to New York. On that very morning, the Springfield Democratic newspaper, The Illinois State Register, both acknowledged and mocked Lincoln's ambitions by publishing a notice:
'SIGNIFICANT—The Honorable Abraham Lincoln departs today for Brooklyn under an engagement to deliver a lecture before the Young Men's Association of that city, in Beecher's Church. Subject not known. Consideration, $200 and expenses. Object, presidential capital. Effect, disappointment."
Of course, we know that this is not exactly what happened. The trip would increase Lincoln's presidential capital immeasurably.
The newspaper was incorrect in stating that Lincoln would speak before the Young Men's Association, but rather for New York's Young Men's Central Republican Union. And although Lincoln was scheduled to speak at Beecher's Church in Brooklyn his speach was delivered at Cooper Union in New York. This change was brought about by the fact that Lincoln had delayed his trip for so long that the church lecture series to which he had been invited had ended.
On the day that Lincoln was to deliver his first speech in the media center of the country, he went to Mathew Brady's studio to have the portrait shown above taken. As noted above, the image came to be known as the "Cooper Union Photograph."
The speech electrified Lincoln's hearers and gained him important political support in Seward's home territory. Said a New York writer, "No man ever before made such an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience." After being printed by New York newspapers, the speech was widely circulated as campaign literature.
Standing before the crowd that night was an ungainly giant, at six feet, four inches dwarfing the other dignitaries on the stage, clad in a wrinkled black suit that ballooned out in the back. “At first sight there was nothing impressive or imposing about him,” recalled one eyewitness. The speaker appeared decidedly “ill at ease.” Yet, the power of his words and the earnestness of his delivery quickly converted doubters in the crowd, at the high watermark of a vanished era in which one major speech could make or break a rising leader. When Lincoln finished his carefully prepared address, the audience rose and cheered wildly. Abraham Lincoln came to New York an untested presidential aspirant. He left a potential White House nominee.
The last paragraph of that speech is shown below:
"Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored - contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man - such as a policy of "don't care" on a question about which all true men do care - such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance - such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves.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."
The entire text of the speech can be found by clicking on the link below:
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