Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Abraham Lincoln Offerings


A First-Day New York Printing of Candidate Lincoln’s
Cooper Union Speech (SOLD)
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

“Let us have faith that right makes might.”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Newspaper. New York Evening Post, New York, N.Y., February 28, 1860, 4 pp., 26 x 30½ in. Disbound. Lincoln’s speech is printed on the front page and continued on page 4. With British Museum stamp next to masthead.

Inventory #22803       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Brief Excerpt

“Let all who believe that ‘our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now,’ speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask -- all Republicans desire -- in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guaranties those fathers gave it, be, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly maintained....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.”

Historical Background

Lincoln gave his speech at the Cooper Institute in New York City before he captured the Republican presidential nomination, and its success catapulted him to national attention as a viable presidential candidate. Using James Elliot’s The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, he delivered a speech that concentrated on the Founders’ original intent about the contentious issue of slavery. As in his “House Divided Speech” two years earlier, Lincoln used the occasion to differentiate his positions from those of the Democrats, who accused Republicans of being a sectional party, or of helping John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, or threatened secession if Lincoln was elected. Lincoln begins by arguing that twenty-one of the thirty-nine Constitution signers believed that the federal government could ban slavery in the territories. He then explains the Republican position did not threaten slavery where it already existed, though he did insist on limiting slavery’s expansion into the territories.

Unlike most of Lincoln’s important speeches, the Cooper Union address is neither short nor particularly quotable. Nevertheless, Lincoln the lawyer lays out his arguments, building to the unassailable conclusion that the Founding Fathers saw slavery as an institution that would wither and die with time and isolation.

On the afternoon of the speech, Lincoln sat for a photographic portrait in Matthew Brady’s New York studio. He later reputedly said, “Brady and the Cooper Institute made me President.” Lincoln dined with supporters, and the then went to the New York Tribune offices to read and correct the typeset text of his speech. According to the young typesetter who worked with Lincoln that night, the manuscript was left on a table and then discarded.

William Cullen Bryant, the New York Evening Post’s editor, introduced Lincoln to the Cooper Institute and was one of Lincoln’s main eastern supporters early in his presidential bid. This edition is in large format and includes an editorial on page 2 praising the speech and criticizing the southern position. The editors assert that “There is to be no peace with the south till the slaveholders shall have forced us to say that slavery is right—not just merely to admit it by silence, but to shout the accursed doctrine with all the strength of our lungs.”

With a number of other articles and legislative actions regarding slavery, and news of a major Massachusetts strike at shoemaking factories.


Very good, disbound.