Doing Good


Born into a debt-ridden family, Peter Cooper distrusted bankers and feared debt. During the 19th Century, many banks failed and debtors were frequently imprisoned. Yet Cooper prospered during panics (depressions) because he frequently had cash on hand.

“The dealers in money have always been the dangerous class. There may, at some future day, be a whirlwind precipitated upon the moneyed men of this country.”

Peter Cooper

Great Hall Speakers

(* photo credits below)

Even after he made several fortunes, Peter Cooper championed the cause of the workingman-farmers, mechanics and small business. And he was concerned about their ability tp get credit from banks.
In 1876 the Greenback Party - which advocated paper money - asked Peter Cooper to be their candidate for President. At the age of 85, he reluctantly accepted. Cartoonists had a field day.

Great Hall event & Abraham Lincoln Presidential Ad

(* photo credits below)

Sean Wilentz, Historian, Professor at Princeton University

* Top row left to right: Library of Congress, New York Historical Society.

Second row left to right: New York Public Library, Courtesy of The Cooper Union Library Archives, The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Print Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

[Thumbnail to enter this page:] Courtesy of The Cooper Union Library Archives.