Peter Cooper's Letter to the Trustees, April 29, 1859 page 1   


dated April 29, 1859
to the Trustees of
From a pamphlet published by The Cooper Union, October 1956
      When Peter Cooper and his wife, Sarah, on April 29, 1859, conveyed to The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art the building and property which The Cooper Union still occupies, the Deed of Trust was accompanied by a remarkable personal letter from Peter Cooper to the Trustees of the then new institution.
That letter, which embodies so fervently the warmth, the humanity, and the high ideals of Peter Cooper, is here presented, 97 years later, on the eve of a major effort to prepare The Cooper Union to enter its second century of free educational service to the people of America. Whoever reads this letter can better understand the far-reaching vision of Peter Cooper, which is fundamental to the aspirations of The Cooper Union today.
The Trustees,
      9 October 1956    
      To the Trustees of "The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art."    
For the useful purposes of life
  GENTLEMEN, — It is to me a source of inexpressible pleasure, after so many years of continued effort, to place in your hands the title to all that piece and parcel of land bounded on the west by Fourth avenue, and on the north by Astor place, on the east by Third avenue, and on the south by Seventh street, with all the furniture, rents and income of every name and nature, to be forever devoted to the advancement of science and art, in their application to the varied and useful purposes of life.
The great object I desire to accomplish by the establishment of an institution devoted to the advancement of science and art, is to open the volume of nature by the light of truth — so unveiling the laws and methods of Deity, that the young may see the beauties of creation, enjoy its blessings, and learn to love the Being "from whom cometh every good and perfect gift."
My heart's desire is, that the rising generation may become so thoroughly acquainted with the works of nature, and the great mystery of their own being, that they may see, feel, understand and know that there are immutable laws, designed in infinite wisdom, constantly operating for our good — so governing the destiny of worlds and men that it is our highest wisdom to live in strict conformity to these laws.
Inspiration of truth
  My design is to establish this institution, in the hope that unnumbered youth will here receive the inspiration of truth in all its native power and beauty, and find in it a source of perpetual pleasure to spread its transforming influence throughout the world.
Believing in and hoping for such result, I desire to make this institution contribute in every way to aid the efforts of youth to acquire useful knowledge, and to find and fill that place in the community where their capacity and talents can be usefully employed with the greatest possible advantage to themselves and the community in which they live.
In order most effectually to aid and encourage the efforts of youth to obtain useful knowledge, I have provided the main floor of the large hall on the third story for a reading-room, literary exchange and scientific collections, — the walls around that floor to be arranged for the reception of books, maps, paintings and other objects of interest. And when a sufficient collection of the works of art, science and nature can be obtained, I propose that glass cases shall be arranged around the walls of the gallery of the said room, forming alcoves around the entire floor for the preservation of the same. In the window spaces I propose to arrange such cosmoramic and other views as will exhibit in the clearest and most forcible light the true philosophy of life.

This philosophy will always show, when rightly understood and wisely applied, an inseparable connection between a course of vice and the misery that must inevitably follow. It will always show that "wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
Encourage heroic virtues
  To manifest the deep interest and sympathy I feel in all that can advance the happiness and better the condition of the female portion of the community, and especially of those who are dependent on honest labor for support, I desire the Trustees to appropriate two hundred and fifty dollars yearly to assist such pupils of the Female School of Design as shall, in their careful judgment, by their efforts and sacrifices in the performance of duty to parents or to those that Providence has made dependent on them for support, merit and require such aid. My reason for this requirement is, not so much to reward as to encourage the exercise of heroic virtues that often shine in the midst of the greatest suffering and obscurity without so much as being noticed by the passing throng.
In order to better the condition of woman and to widen the sphere of female employment, I have provided seven rooms to be forever devoted to a Female School of Design, and I desire the trustees to appropriate out of the rents of the building fifteen hundred dollars annually towards meeting the expenses of said school.
It is the ardent wish of my heart that this school of design may be the means of raising to competence and comfort thousands of those that might otherwise struggle through a life of poverty and suffering.
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