New York has a deeply significent relationship with both of America’s most famous Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. George Washington was sworn into office in NYC as first President of the United States on April 30 1789. And Abraham Lincoln established himself as a presidential candidate by giving his famous Cooper Union address in NYC in February 1860.
Before giving this speech he stopped off at the studio of famed NYC photographer Mathew Brady. See the video for a discussion about the symbolism and careful staging of this renowned photograph which then became the photograph on all his campign literature in his 1860 campaign for the presidency.
He spoke after having this photograph taken, at the Cooper Union in front of 1,500 people. The audience included all the political bigwigs of New York especially from the Republican Party and all the NYC important newspaper editors. His address took an hour, punctauted all the time by cheers. The speech was steady and extremely well researched It demonstrated his oratorical skills to perfection and was laced through with his passion.
What he was pasionate about was the ability of the Federal government to regulate slavery. He started the speech as virtually a political unknown who with no groundswell of support for elevation to higher office. By the end of his speech he was seen in a completely different light by the Republicans. And those newspaper editors who were present then presented him in their papers asa rising political star and made his name well known. He went on to gain the Republican Party nomination for president later in the year.
The key to his success apart from his incredible skills as an orator were his in depth research for his speech. He was carefull to be reasonable in all of his arguments in reason but the energy of his convictions made his speech deeply moving. Those convictions about slavery went on to animate his whole Presidency. But without that address at the Cooper Union he would not have been well known enough known to gain the Republican nomination a few months later.