Politics & Politicians

    Horace Greeley  "Founder of The New York Tribune"  February 3, 1811 - November 29, 1872

Abraham Lincoln paid attention to what Horace Greeley said; by the time of Lincoln's presidency, Horace Greeley was one of the most influential and respected newspapermen in the country. The president had a special cubbyhole in his office desk where he filed favorite newspaper clippings, including many articles by Greeley.

Carl Sandburg described how 20-year-old Greeley arrived in New York "with $10 in his pocket, a greenhorn from Vermont farms who had picked up the trade of printer." Greeley went on to edit the New Yorker and the Log Cabin, and in 1841 he started the New York Tribune.

For 21 years, his penny morning paper was "at the forefront reporting, if not advocating, every reform, radical idea, and 'ism' that came into view." Through his editorials he advised, "Go west, young man, and grow with the country." He gave the American party the nickname "Know-Nothings", and continued his unrelenting stance against slavery, which he believed to be both immoral and economically unsound. Among the subscribers to his New York Tribune (1860 circulation: 287,750) were nearly all the editors and newswriters of America.

Horace Greeley was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln. He did not, however, always agree with Lincoln's policies and did not hesitate to say so in his editorials. In 1864, a growing urge for peace led Greeley to attempt direct negotiations with the Confederacy, a move that brought him much ridicule.

After the war, Greeley's stands on issues displayed growing inconsistencies. He ran for the presidency in 1872 on the Liberal Republican ticket, but was dealt a crushing defeat by Ulysses S. Grant. The stress of the campaign and his wife's death a few days before the election broke Greeley's health and strained his sanity. He died on November 29.

Fascinating Fact:  Greeley wrote a "moaning" letter to the president in July 1861. His beginning statement, "This is my seventh sleepness night", seemed to reflect his fear that Lincoln was not losing enough sleep over the war.

Back to index page