by Christina Parrella, 10/16/2012 [Updated 02/04/2016]
Photo: Mario Morgado
The Great Hall, Cooper Union
30 Cooper Square, 212-353-4100, East Village, Manhattan
Cooper Union is the site of many famous pre-presidential orations. A slew of our nation's finest all stepped up to the Great Hall's podium before they stepped foot into the White House, including Howard Taft, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant. It all started with Abraham Lincoln's "Right Makes Might" speech, delivered here in 1860, which called for the abolition of slavery. That speech is credited with raising Lincoln's national profile and securing him the Republican presidential nomination. Before another Illinois statesman, Barack Obama, was elected to the presidency, he spoke at Cooper Union in 2008 on reforming the American economic system. President Bill Clinton, however, has the honor of being the only president to speak here during his term in office (the topic: reducing the federal deficit).