Monday, September 8, 2008

Presidential Politics, Lincoln-Style

By special arrangement with C-SPAN, the library will host a viewing of "The Speech That Made a President: Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Address" on Tuesday, September 23, at 7 p.m. Actor Sam Waterston recreates Lincoln's historic speech that propelled him to the presidency during one of America's most troubled periods. A brief discussion will follow.

On a snowy February night in 1860, a skeptical audience of 1,500 New Yorkers gathered at the Cooper Union to hear a 7,000 word speech by an awkward, poorly groomed. Illinois lawyer, who had, some thought, a remote chance of being the Republican nominee for president. In meticulously researched arguments, Abraham Lincoln defended Congress’ right to halt the spread of slavery in the territories, a position he had debated in his failed bid for the US Senate against Stephen Douglas, and which would ultimately launch the nation into civil war.

With riveting language laced with occasional humor, Lincoln unleashed the enthusiasm of his audience, which included Horace Greeley, editor of the antislavery New York Tribune. Within days, Lincoln's words were reprinted and distributed across the country, and the resulting publicity was overwhelmingly positive. When the Republican Party held it's nominating convention in Chicago the following summer, Lincoln captured the nomination, and the rest is history.

We thank Dr. John Dowd for donating the videorecording and for suggesting this program as a tie-in to both the 2008 presidential election and Lincoln's 2009 bicentennial. Seating is limited and registration is encouraged by calling 424-5021 or emailing mmkpl@merrimack.lib.nh.us.

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