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Object Name: Desk
Date: ca. 1850
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Medium: Mahogany with satinwood; baize, brass
Dimensions: Closed: 45 × 45 × 23 in. (114.3 × 114.3 × 58.4 cm)
Place made: New York
Description: Neoclassical-style desk; mahogany and satinwood, three drawers on top and below; turned legs; pull-down writing area with key, baize surface, three internal drawers; original brass hardware.
Credit Line: Gift of Harold Holzer
Object Number: 2016.70
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Marks: Marked: “T.G. Sellew”

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This desk is associated with Lincoln’s “Cooper Union Speech” in New York City, which outlined his belief that the Federal government had the right to limit the expansion of slavery. This speech propelled the relatively unknown Illinois politician to the presidency. Lincoln supposedly sat at the desk while meeting with Joseph H. Richards, publisher of the New York Independent on February 25, 1860, two days before the address. He had shown up unexpectedly at the Ann Street headquarters to introduce himself to editor Henry C. Bowen—one of his official hosts—and to receive details about the upcoming speaking engagement. The desk belonged to Richards, who had put up the money to fund Lincoln’s appearance.