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Moment #011: Grant Visits Great Hall

POSTED ON: May 22, 2019

Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant (detail); 1865; Ole Peter Hansen Balling. Courtesy the National Portrait Gallery<br><br>
Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant (detail); 1865; Ole Peter Hansen Balling. Courtesy the National Portrait Gallery


During a June visit to New York City, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, former commander of the victorious Army of the Potomac, appeared in the Great Hall for a rally supporting President Andrew Johnson. Ten thousand people showed up to get a glimpse of him, according to a contemporaneous article in the New York Times. He gave no speech but uttered a "few brief words of thanks" to the packed house. "The American vocabulary is inadequate for the occasion," the Times wrote, "words would fail to convey a just conception of the scene which ensued. ... [T]he entranced and bewildered multitude trembled with extraordinary delight."

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.