Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative
Image: 8.8 × 6 cm (3 7/16 × 2 3/8")
Sheet: 16.5 × 11.8 cm (6 1/2 × 4 5/8")
Mat: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection
Inventor and millionaire industrialist Peter Cooper was one of the outstanding American businessmen of the nineteenth century. He was also a generous and innovative philanthropist who viewed wealth as a trust to be used "to do something in a public way for the education and uplifting of the common people." To this end, in 1857 Cooper founded the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art-a unique institution in New York City that offered free courses in applied art and science to adults with the desire but not the means to secure an education. The Cooper Union also maintained a free library and sponsored public lectures by speakers such as Abraham Lincoln, whose eloquent address there in February 1860 was credited by many with helping him to win both his party's nomination and the presidency.