The Peter Cooper Story
Release Date
3 March 2009

The Peter Cooper Story (2009)

56min ยท Documentary
This well-researched film celebrates the life and legacy of Peter Cooper, the remarkable 19th century inventor, industrialist and philanthropist. Cooper had a rare combination of mechanical skills and entrepreneurship. Beginning work in a glue factory, Cooper developed the household uses of gelatin (Jello) and fashioned the iron I-beam from railroad rails, which enabled multistoried building construction. In 1828 he founded the Canton Iron Works in Baltimore which made his fortune. A champion of 20th century communication, he helped fund the first transatlantic telegraph cable and built the first American steam locomotive named "Tom Thumb." When business success brought wealth, Cooper used it to foster social justice. He founded The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1859, realizing his dream of free education for working people, regardless of ethnicity or gender. The college empowered thousands of women, a radical notion for the mid-19th century. The Great Hall in Cooper Union provided a platform for most major social movements of the 19th Century, most importantly, Abraham Lincoln's speech that won him his party's nomination for president in 1865. The early feminist leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony also spoke there. - Written by Elena Mannes
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