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Lincoln at Cooper Union : The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 5, 2004 0743224663
"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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few people know more about Abraham Lincoln than Holzer (editor of Lincoln the Writer; Lincoln Seen and Heard; etc.). This fine new work focuses on a widely known but little studied address that Lincoln delivered early in 1860 in New York City, which Holzer believes made Lincoln the Republican candidate and therefore president. While one has to credit other political and historical factors, Holzer is probably right. Surely no one will again overlook this masterful speech, even if it never rose to the eloquence of the Gettysburg Address. That's precisely one of Holzer's main arguments: that the speech was intended as a learned, historically grounded, legally powerful rebuttal to claims of Lincoln's great Democratic opponent, Stephen Douglas, about the constitutionality of slavery's spread into the territories. But how, Holzer asks, did a long speech hold its audience at Cooper Union and then infuse tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers with enthusiasm for the man? The answer lies in large part with the nature of American cultureâ€"a highly politicized one of readersâ€"in the 1860s. But as Holzer also makes clear, Lincoln conceived of the speech as part of an astute strategy to win his party's nomination. While his political wizardry will surprise few readers, they'll learn again how it was combined with intellectual power and a fierce determination to clarify his moral convictions. It was on this visit to New York that Matthew Brady shot his most celebrated portrait of Lincoln (which appears on the book jacket). Holzer devotes a fascinating chapter to this episode.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A prolific Lincoln editor (The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text, 1993), Holzer here steps forward as a full-fledged Lincoln author. The oration he scrutinizes, the February 1860 address to a Republican Party audience in New York, gave wings to Lincoln's presidential aspirations, and its historical stature makes the humble details of its arrangement and delivery interesting in their own right. So much so that, after Lincoln's death, all sorts of apocrypha have risen around the speech, which Holzer studiously analyzes. Yet Holzer's is not a dry exercise in scholarly exactitude but a vivid narration of the episode, from Lincoln's purposes in consenting to speak to the physical appearances of his surroundings on trains and in New York. Holzer's prose conjures the figure Lincoln cut onstage and the aural impact of his words, which identified the Republicans as the genuine upholders of the Founders' position on slavery, that is, against its extension and for its extinction. An excellent contribution to Lincolnalia. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743224663
  • ASIN: B0006SHMO8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,241,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, serves as chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He has authored, coauthored, and edited forty-two books, including Emancipating Lincoln, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and three award-winning books for young readers: Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons, The President Is Shot!, and Abraham Lincoln, the Writer. His awards include the Lincoln Prize and the National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis on all counts May 27, 2004
Harold Holzer's excellent analysis of the Cooper Union speech is a model of historical and rhetorical scholarship. Written with clarity and unpretentiousness, it offers a wonderful view of the political world of 1859-1860, of Lincoln as a would-be candidate for president seeking to make his first big venture in the East, of the turbulent and anti-Republican metropolis of New York City, of the ordeal of railroad travel, of the growing power of photographic images in politics, and of the interactions of newspapers and politics. Holzer more than proves his case that the Cooper Union speech was vital to making Lincoln President, and that it was one of his greatest and most intellectually formidable speeches. Highly recommended as a book that belongs with Garry Wills's LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG and Ronald White's LINCOLN'S GREATEST SPEECH: THE SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS. Now if Holzer would only tackle Lincoln's First Inaugural Address and his 1838 Young Men's Lyceum speech in the same way....
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abraham Lincoln in New York June 20, 2005
Of all of Lincoln's pre-Presidential speeches, the one he gave at New York City's Cooper Union in February 1860 stands out as the most historically significant: it made him president; it compelled the South to secede; and it saved the Union. And, yet, as Professor Holzer points out, this speech, while mentioned in history books, is rarely given the recognition it deserves. His comprehensive and readable "Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech that Made Abraham Lincoln President", rectifies this terrible oversight.

This is not a step-by-step examination of Lincoln's references in, and the rhetorical craftsmanship of, the speech, although those are explored thoroughly. The book also explores the heretofore unacknowledged campaigning savvy that Lincoln possessed. He knew he had to come to Gotham to convince the Eastern Republicans of his credibility. He knew the importance of the local newspaper printers, like Bryant and Greeley. He understood the importance of having a visual aid, like a Matthew Brady photograph. But, most important, as Professor Holzer takes great pains to reveal, Lincoln did not want to appear to be an abolitionist. That would border on radicalism which would be a guarantee of defeat.

As a bonus, "Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech that Made Abraham Lincoln President", presents us with a unique view of 1860 New York: the thieves at the docks; the "mass transit" of the age; the hunger for entertainment, of which political speeches were a significant part; the elegance and extravagance of the rich; and the desperation of the Five Points poor.

"Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President" is a wonderful book that will please anyone interested in American History, New York City, or oratory. And Professor Holzer deserves our thanks for making it so fascinating. It only reflects his own passion for the subject.

Rocco Dormarunno, author of THE FIVE POINTS
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark in Lincoln Studies July 19, 2004
Harold Holzer's new book further cements Lincoln's reputation as the United States' greatest president. Lincoln's speech at Cooper Union in New York City early in 1860 was designed as a rebuttal to Stephen A. Douglas's doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, which would have allowed the spread of slavery into the territories. It was also meant to define the Republican Party and, by extension, Lincoln himself, countering the South's contention that the Republicans were nothing more than a sectional party. Holzer does a masterful job in relating Lincoln's research in crafting the Cooper Union speech, the long, tiring journey from Illinois to New York, his performance, and the long, winding trip back to Springfield. Holzer's book will stand for quite some time as the definitive study of "The Speech that Made Lincoln President".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Lincoln got creditable.... February 16, 2007
Harold Holzer's book on Abraham Lincoln's speech at Cooper Union gives a clarity to the importance of that speech and how it affected Lincoln as a speaker, politican and future candidate for his Republican Party. While Lincoln was well known among the western states, he wasn't that well regarded along the northeastern seaboard. One of the most important things about the book was how the author explained how this speech gave Lincoln so much creditability among the easterners and how that speech firmly put Lincoln on the political map national wide. This helped pave the way for Lincoln's nomination when others were looking for alternative choices beside William Seward who was at that time, the leading Republican front runner.

The book proves to be quite informative. Abraham Lincoln is obviously one person you cannot judge by your first impression. The author throughly explained the mannerism of Lincoln's speech skills and the way it contrast to his physical appearances which often led to initial misgiving by the audience before they roared in their approval at the end of the speech.

Its pretty clear that Mr. Holzer have complete command of his subject matter which is reflected on the superb writing and ease of reading material that only an expert can do to any subject. The book appears to be well researched and it was about time that a book on this subject came out (I think the last book about this speech came out before Mr. Holzer was born).

I would considered this book to be a mandatory reading material for anyone interested in Abraham Lincoln and probably a good background material for anyone interested in the coming of the American Civil War.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I learned a lot about the crazy politics of that time, and was relieved to realize that it was lunacy then, and that not much has really changed!
Published 5 months ago by Zach
5.0 out of 5 stars Lincoln was a genius.
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... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Chelsea
3.0 out of 5 stars Content great, formatting for Kindle horrible.
The book provided new insights (for me) into this most important period in Lincoln's path to the presidency.

The formatting was almost random. Read more
Published 11 months ago by jimd
4.0 out of 5 stars Well presented
Holzer creates the historical framework around this famous speech which adds to its power and our understanding of its significance.
Published 11 months ago by Roy Traugott
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Moment in Our History
The only example of a dialectical discourse creating a successful candidacy for President.
The author does a very good job of painting the moment-to-moment flavor of place and... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Simko
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but but too narrowly focused
The chapter on the speech is very good and the appendix with the entire speech and footnotes is excellent. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. Aronson
5.0 out of 5 stars Holzer on Lincoln at Cooper Union.
Essential reading on Abraham Lincoln's February 27, 1860, speech at Cooper Union in New York City. Harold Holzer has
written a magnificently researched and synthesized work... Read more
Published 17 months ago by David P. Stepaniak
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This book details the effort that Lincoln put into his Cooper Union speech. This speech propelled him into the position of Republican Party nominee for President in 1860 and... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Noel Culler
5.0 out of 5 stars Most effective political speech ever?
The author clearly shows that it is no exaggeration to claim that the momentum generated by Lincoln's visit to NYC and New England at the end of Feb 1860, lasting a little over two... Read more
Published 18 months ago by J. Grattan
5.0 out of 5 stars I still think it's Holzer's best!
This book is so well written, that of the books written on Lincoln, it's the best. I just finished reading it a second time. Read more
Published 22 months ago by 4moreshelflife
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