Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union Address (Donald, 1996)

Scholarship
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 240.
It was also a superb political move for an unannounced presidential aspirant. Appearing in [William] Seward’s home state, sponsored by a group largely loyal to [Salmon] Chase, Lincoln shrewdly made no reference to either of these Republican rivals for the nomination. Recognizing that if the Republicans were going to win in 1860 they needed the support of men who had voted for [Millard] Fillmore in the previous election, Lincoln in his Cooper Union address stressed his conservatism. He did not mention his house-divided thesis or Seward’s irrepressible-conflict prediction; Republicans were presented as a party of moderates who were simply trying to preserve the legacy of the Founding Fathers against the radical assaults of the proslavery element. Even Lincoln’s language contributed to the effect he sought; the careful structure of the speech, the absence of incendiary rhetoric, even the laborious recital of the voting records of the Founding Fathers, all suggested reasonableness and stability, not wide-eyed fanaticism. In short, it was, as one of the sponsors wrote, an enormous success. Sending Lincoln the agreed-upon fee of $200, he added, “I would that it were $200,000 for you are worthy of it.”
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