Now scrolling: The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lincoln's address at Cooper Union targets the expansion of slavery

The Cooper Union Address was among the earliest of Lincoln’s speeches denouncing slavery and its expansion into Western territories. Not as popular as his other writings because of its length and detailed examination of the Constitution (Herndon compared it to a lawyer’s brief), it is perhaps the least understood, yet most politically crucial speech of Lincoln’s career.
In it, Lincoln examines the views of the 39 signers of the Constitution and notes that a majority of 21 of them believed Congress should control slavery in the territories, not allow it to expand.

Exposing the inconsistent positions of Senator Stephen Douglas and Chief Justice Roger Taney, Lincoln urges fellow Republicans not to give in to Southern demands to recognize slavery as being right, but to "stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively."

Though he delivered the speech in February of 1860, Lincoln accepted the invitation to write it in October of 1859. It was originally intended to be a lecture at Henry Ward Beecher’s Church in Brooklyn, but the Young Men's Republican Union, which assumed sponsorship, moved its location to the Cooper Institute by the time Lincoln arrived in New York.

The Union Board included members such as Horace Greeley and William Cullen Bryant, who opposed William Seward for the Republican Presidential nomination. As an unannounced presidential candidate, Lincoln attracted a capacity crowd of 1,500 curious New Yorkers.

Though Lincoln disappointed spectators at first with his almost too-tall appearance, he soon electrified the crowd with his passion for all things anti-slavery. Some recognize that the long road to emancipation, which ended January 1, 1863, began here, February 27th, 1860, at Cooper Union.

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