Mathew Brady first photographed Abraham Lincoln on February 27, 1860, the day Lincoln addressed a large Republican audience in the modern lecture hall at Cooper Union in New York. Over the following weeks, newspapers and magazines gave full accounts of the event, noting the high spirits of the crowd and the stirring rhetoric of the speaker. Artists for Harper's Weekly converted Brady's photograph to a full-page woodcut portrait to illustrate their story of Lincoln's triumph, and in October 1860, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly used the same image to illustrate a story about the election. Brady himself sold many carte-de-visite photographs of the Illinois politician who had captured the eye of the nation. Brady remembered that he drew Lincoln's collar up high to improve his appearance; subsequent versions of this famous portrait also show that artists smoothed Lincoln's hair and subtly refined his features. After Lincoln secured the Republican nomination and the presidency, he gave credit to his Cooper Union speech and this portrait, saying, "Brady and the Cooper Institute made me President."

Abraham Lincoln/Mathew Brady Studio/Salted-paper print (carte de visite), 1860
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Harper's Weekly, May 26, 1860 with image of Abraham Lincoln
Engraving after Brady photograph
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

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