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Lincoln Speech Archives - History's Newsstand Blog : History's Newsstand Blog

A Fly on the Wall at Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech…

March 11, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

How often have we all said, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.”? This week, as I helped a customer with an order, I was struck again with how often that statement is uttered here in our RareNewspapers office. This gentleman was beside himself over an issue we had obtained covering Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Speech (see image below). Hearing him excitedly describe the content soon grabbed my imagination as well. As I finished his order and set the phone back into the cradle, I dug in to find any additional issues we may might still have highlighting this historic speech. Reading aloud (yet quietly to myself), I was transported to the scene. Follow me for a few moments to this history defining moment in time, picking up at the end of William Cullen Bryant’s (American poet & editor of the NEW YORK EVENING POST) introduction of this great American Hero…

“‘I have only to pronounce his name to secure your profoundest attention’ [Prolonged applause, and cheers for Lincoln]. Mr. Lincoln advanced to the desk, and smiling graciously upon his audience, complacently awaited the termination of the cheering and then proceeded with his address as follows…”. What followed was the speech that triggered Lincoln’s famous quote: “Another Republican Orator on the Stump.”

So many current phrases could be used to describe this moment in time: “A Star is Born”, “For Such a Time as This”… but for me, all I could think of was, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall”, and I’m so grateful to the THE NEW YORK TIMES reporter who helped me to be one on February 28, 1860.