Course Hero Logo
Literature Study GuidesCooper Union Speech

Cooper Union Speech | Study Guide

Abraham Lincoln

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Cooper Union Speech Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 June 2020. Web. 3 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2020, June 27). Cooper Union Speech Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 3, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)



Course Hero. "Cooper Union Speech Study Guide." June 27, 2020. Accessed June 3, 2023.


Course Hero, "Cooper Union Speech Study Guide," June 27, 2020, accessed June 3, 2023,



Abraham Lincoln

Year Published



Primary Source



At a Glance

  • In 1860 the Cooper Union Address catapulted Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) to the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America.
  • Prominent Republicans worried their frontrunner for the presidental race, William Henry Steward (1801–72), was too extreme on the issue of slavery and were looking for an alternative nominee for the party.
  • Lincoln's performance at Cooper Union was so well-received it was printed in several newspapers and he toured the Northeast, gaining credibility within the Republican Party and essentially campaigning for the nomination.
  • At the Republican convention in May 1860, William Henry Seward failed to win a majority of votes and Abraham Lincoln prevailed on the second round of voting, becoming the Republican nominee for president.
  • The Cooper Union speech demonstrated Lincoln's superior rhetorical skill and his ability to craft a persuasive and well-researched argument backed up by facts and evidence.
  • Lincoln refuted the Democratic argument that the Founding Fathers would have supported the South's position on states' right to carry out slavery without federal regulation or intervention.
  • With the Cooper Union speech, Lincoln attempted to prove without a doubt that the Founding Fathers would be more in line with the policies of Republicans, not Democrats.
  • He carefully distanced himself from the violence of abolitionist John Brown (1800–59), while still affirming the morality of opposing slavery.
  • Lincoln used the occasion to spar with the presumptive Democratic nominee Stephen Douglas (1813–61), dissecting Douglas's theory of popular sovereignty as a way for Douglas to avoid taking a moral stance on slavery.
  • Lincoln sufficiently charmed the audience at Cooper Union to elevate his status within the Republican Party, making him an appealing choice for president.


This study guide for Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Speech offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Cooper Union Speech? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!