HORACE GREELEY was born at Amherst, New Hampshire, on the 3d of February, 1811, being the third of seven children, two of whom had died before his birth. His father, Zaccheus (a name borne, also, by his grandfather and great-grandfather), was a native of Londonderry (now Hudson), New Hampshire, and was of the Massachusetts clan, "mainly farmers, but part blacksmiths," who traced their ancestry to one of three brothers who emigrated to this country, about 1650, from Nottinghamshire, England. All the Greeleys are said to have possessed marked and peculiar characters—distinguished for tenacity of vitality, opinions, preferences, memory, and purpose. Few of, them have ever been rich, but all, as far as known, have been of respectable social condition, industrious, honest, and loyal. Mary Woodburn, the wife of Zaccheus, and the mother of Horace Greeley, was also of Londonderry, New Hampshire, of that fine old Scotch-Irish stock which settled that town—Irish in their vivacity, generosity, and daring; Scotch in their frugality, industry, and resolution--a race in whom Nature seems, for once, to have kindly blended the qualities which render men interesting with those which render them prosperous. The Greeley and Woodburn farm adjoined. and so it came about that Zaccheus Greeley found favor in the eyes of Mary Woodburn, and was married to her in the year 1807, he being then twenty-five years of age and she nineteen. He inherited nothing from his father, and she had no property except the usual household portion from hers—so the young couple settled down at old Mr. Greeley's—supporting, for a while, the old folks and their still numerous minor children; but this did not last long. Young married people crave independence, and, ere long, Zaccheus Greeley managed to purchase, partly with his earnings and partly on trust," a small and not over fertile farm at Amherst, where, as we have seen, Horace first saw the light. In New England, farmer's sons learn to make themselves useful almost as soon as they can walk Feeding the chickens, driving the cows, carrying wood and water, and all the light offices which are denominated "chores," fall to their lot; and Horace (as the eldest son of a poor and hard working farmer struggling hard with the sterile soil to pay off the debt he had incurred in its purchase, and to support his increasing family) was by no means exempt from his share of daily toil and responsibilities. Grubbing in the corn hills, "riding the horse to plow," burning charcoal in the neighboring woods, and "picking stones," were among the occupations which the boy carried on—and that right faithfully, too, although his heart rejoiced not in them. The last named labor he seems to have disrelished exceedingly. "Picking stones," says he, in his autobiography, "is a never-ending labor on one of those New England farms. Pick as closely as you may, the next plowing turns up a fresh eruption of boulders and pebbles, from the size of a hickory nut to that of a tea-kettle, and as this work is mainly to be done in March or April, when the earth is saturated with ice-cold water, if not also whitened with falling snow, youngsters soon learn to regard it with detestation. I filially love the 'Granite State,' but could well excuse the absence of sundry subdivisions of her granite." The fact seems to have been that, however faithful and careful in the performance of these farm duties, repulsive as they were to him, Horace mind, from early infancy, craved knowledge. As a very young child, he took to learning with the same prompt instinctive and irrepressible love with which a duck is said to take to the water. Like many other distinguished men, he found his first and best instructor in his mother—who possessed a strong mind, a retentive memory, a perpetual over-flow of good spirits, a great fondness for reading, and an exhaustless fund of songs, ballads, and stories—to which latter, the boy listened greedily, sitting on the floor at her feet, while she spun and talked with equal energy. "They served," says Mr. Greeley, "to awaken in me a thirst for knowledge, and a lively interest in learning and history." At the maternal knee —and ever with the hum of the spinning wheel as an accompaniment—the boy learned, also, to read, before he had learned to talk; that is, before he could pronounce the longer words; and from the fact that the book lay in her lap, he soon acquired a facility of reading from it sidewise, or upside down, as readily as in the usual fashion—which knack became "a subject of neighborhood wonder and fabulous exaggeration." At three years of age he could read easily and correctly any of the books prepared for children, and, by the time he was four years old, any book whatever. His third winter was spent at the house of his grandfather Woodburn, at Londonderry, where he attended the district school, as he continued to do most of the winters and some of the summer months during the next three years. At this school he soon attained remarkable distinction by his cleverness at spelling, which was his passion. In this he was unrivalled—no word could ever puzzle him--he spelt in school and out of it—at work or at play—and, for hours at a time, he would lie upon the floor of his grandfather's house spelling all the hard words which he could find in the Bible and the few other books within reach. Of course, he was the great hero of the "spelling match"—that favorite diversion of New England district schools—and there are some still living who love to recount how Horace, then a little "white, tow-headed boy," would sometimes fall asleep (for these "matches" were generally held in the evening) and when it came his turn, his neighbors would give him an anxious nudge, and he would wake instantly, spell off his word, and drop asleep again in a moment. Frequently carried to school when the snow was to deep for him to wade through, on his aunt's shoulder, the eager little fellow stoutly maintained his place among larger and older scholars, and manfully mastered the slender information which he could glean from the pages of Webster's Spelling Book (then displacing Dilworth's), Bingham's Grammar, called "The Ladies' Accidence" and "The Columbian Orator." This latter, the first book he ever owned, had been given him by an uncle, while he lay sick with the measles, in his fourth year, at his grandfather's. It was his prized text book for years, and he learned all its dialogues, speeches, extracts of poetry, by heart, among others that well-known oration, so familiar to our boyish memories, commencing,
"You'd scarce expect one of my age,
When he was six years old, his father removed to a large farm in Bedford, New Hampshire, which he had undertaker to work "on shares," and until his tenth year, Horace's schooling was combined with a pretty fair share of work. " Here," he says, "I first learned that this is a world of hard work
Often called out of bed at dawn to "ride horse to plow" among the growing corn, potatoes, and hops, we would get as much plowed by nine to ten o'clock A.M., as could be hoed that day, when I would be allowed to start for school, where I sometimes arrived as the forenoon session was half through. In winter, our work was lighter; but the snow was often deep and drifted, the cold intense, the north wind piercing, and our clothing thin; besides which, the term rarely exceeded, and sometimes fell short of, two months. I am grateful for much—schooling included—to my native State; yet, I trust her boys of to-day generally enjoy better facilities for education at her common schools than they afforded me half a century ago." Young Greeley had no right to attend the school at Bedford, as, he did not belong to the district—yet he was complimented by a per-mission granted by an express vote of the school committee, that "no pupils from other towns should be received" at their school, "except Horace Greeley alone." Among the few adjuvants to knowledge which the boy enjoyed, was the weekly newspaper which came to his father's house, " The Farmer's Cabinet," mild in polities and scanty, if not heavy, in its literary contents; but, for all that, a "connecting link" between, the little homestead and the great outside, unknown world. Perhaps it unconsciously strengthened the youth's impulse toward' becoming a printer and a newspaper man.
For, it is related of him, that previously to this, while one day watching, most intently, the operation of shoeing a horse, the blacksmith observed to him : "You'd better come with me and learn the trade." "No," was the prompt reply, "I'm going to be a printer," a positive choice of a career by so diminutive a specimen 'of humanity, which mightily amused the bystanders. In his tenth year, however, a change had come to the family fortunes. ' His father, like many other hard-working farmers in New Hampshire, was not able to "weather the storm," which made the year 1820 memorable to many as "hard times." He failed, and having made an " arrangement with his creditors" (for he was a truly honest man), gave up his farm, temporarily, and removed to another in the adjoining town of Bedford, where he commenced the raising of hops, mostly on shares. In two years, however, despite his industry, he came back to his old Amherst home poorer than ever; and, finally, became utterly bankrupt, was sold out by the sheriff; and fled from the State to avoid arrest. He wandered away to Westhaven, Rutland county, Vermont, where he fortunately succeeded in hiring a small house, to which, in January; 1821, he brought, his family. Stripped of all but the barest necessities, the little family mew commenced life literally anew. Horace's life at Westhaven, during the next five years, was much the same as before—plenty of hard work—rough fare, and an insatiable cramming of book knowledge, varied, sometimes, by playing draughts, or " checkers," in which game he is a great proficient. Yet the Yankee element was strong within him. He was always doing something, and he always had something to sell. He saved nuts and pitch pine roots for kindling wood, exchanging them at the country store for articles which he needed.
The only out-door sport which the boy seemed to like, was "
bee-hunting," which frequently yielded a snug little sum of
pocket-money; and when a peddler happened along with books in his wagon,
or pack, the hard earned pennies were pretty sure to leave Horace's
pockets. But, while he could earn, he had little or no faculty of
bargaining, or of making money. In his eleventh year, he heard that an
apprentice was wanted in a news-paper office at Whitehall; and, true to
his old fancy of becoming a printer, he trudged over there on foot, a
distance of nine miles, but was refused the place on account of his
youth. Westhaven, at that time, was a desperate place for drinking,
and Horace and his brother had early imbibed a thorough aversion to the
use of intoxicating liquors and tobacco. Asking his father, one 'day, what
he'd give him if he would not drink a drop of liquor till he was
twenty-one; his father thinking it, perhaps, a mere passing whim of the
boy's, replied "I'll give you a dollar." It was a bargain, and
from that day to this, Horace has not knowingly taken into his system any
alcoholic liquid, and has been a distinguished and fearless advocate of
teetotalism. During his Westhaven life, also, he became—although
surrounded by orthodoxy, and descended from orthodox parents—by the
natural process of his own reasoning, a Universalist—yet he never
entered a church, or heard a sermon, of that faith, until he was twenty
years old. This all arose from his chance reading, in a school book, of
the history of Demetrius Poliorcetes, one of Alexander the Great's
generals, whose conduct towards the ungrateful Athenians, as related by
the earlier historians, presents an example of magnanimity, as sublime as
it is rare. Reflecting with admiration on this case, Greeley, young as he
was, "was moved," as he says, "to inquire if a spirit so
nobly, so wisely transcending the mean and savage impulse which man too
often disguises as justice, when it is in essence revenge, might not be
reverentially termed divine;" in fact, if it did not "image
forth" the attitude of an all-wise, just, yet merciful God, toward an
erring humanity. And though, in his career, the subject of our sketch has
confined himself; by the very necessity of his nature, chiefly to the
advancement of material interests, yet it is not to be .doubted that this
early change of religious belief gave to his subsequent life much of its
direction and character.
A few days later, April 18th; 1826, his father took him down to the office and entered into a verbal agreement with the parties, for his son's services, to the effect that he was to remain at his apprenticeship with them till he was twenty years of age, be allowed his board only for six months, and thereafter $40 per annum for clothing. Leaving Horace at work in the printing office, Mr. Greeley returned home; and, shortly after, removed his residence to Wayne, Erie county, Pennsylvania. The new apprentice's experience at Poultney is thus related by himself :
"The organization and management of our establishment were vicious; for an apprentice should have one master, and I had a succession of them, and often two or three at once. These changes enabled me to demand and receive a more liberal allowance for the later years of my apprenticeship; but the office was too laxly ruled for the most part, and, as to instruction, every one had perfect liberty to learn what he could. In fact, as but two or at most three persons were employed in the printing department, it would have puzzled an apprentice to avoid a practical knowledge of whatever was done there. I had not been there a year before my hands were blistered and my back lamed by working off the very considerable edition of the paper on an old-fashioned, two-pull Ramage (wooden) press—a task beyond my boyish strength—and I can scarcely recall a day wherein we were not hurried by our work. I would not imply that I worked too hard—yet I think few apprentices work more steadily and faithfully than I did throughout the four years and over of my stay in Poultney. While I lived at home, I had a ways been allowed a day's fishing, at least once a month, in spring and summer, and I once went hunting; but I never fished, nor hunted, nor attended a dance, nor any sort of party or fandango, in Poultney. I doubt that I even played a game of ball. Yet I was ever considerately and even kindly treated by those in authority over me, and I believe I generally merited and enjoyed their confidence and good-will. Very seldom was a word of reproach or dissatisfaction addressed to me by one of them. Though I worked diligently, I found much time for reading, and might have had more, had every leisure hour been carefully improved. * * * They say that apprenticeship is distasteful to and out of fashion with the boys of our day; if so, I regret it for their sakes. To the youth who asks, 'How shall I obtain an education?' I would answer, 'Learn a trade of a good master.' I hold firmly that most boys may thus bet-ter acquire the knowledge they need than by spending four years in college."
He speedily became one of the leading members of the village Debating Society, or Lyceum, as it was styled; and, to use the words of an old comrade, "whenever he was appointed to speak or to read an essay, he never wanted to be excused; he was always ready. He was exceedingly interested in the questions which he discussed, and stuck to his opinion against all opposition—not discourteously, but still he stuck to it, replying with the most perfect assurance to men of high station and of low. He had one advantage over all his fellow members; it was his memory. He had read every thing, and remembered the minutest details of important events; dates, names, places, figures, statistics—nothing had escaped him. He was never treated as a boy in the society, but as a man and an equal; and his opinions were considered with as much deference as those of the judge or the sheriff—more, I think. To the graces of oratory he made no pretence, but he was a fluent and interesting speaker, and had a way of giving an unexpected turn to the debate by reminding members of a fact, well known but over-looked; or by correcting a misquotation, or by appealing to what are called first principles. He was an opponent to be afraid of; yet his sincerity and his earnestness were so evident, that those whom he most signally floored liked him none the less for it. He never lost his temper. In short, he spoke in his sixteenth year just as he speaks ,now. "It may be added that then, as now, he was utterly oblivious of the niceties—we had almost said the proprieties—of dress, and his ill-fitted, and really insufficient clothing, excited the pity of a few considerate ones, and the frequent derision of many unthinking ones. But the forty dollars a year which was allowed him by his employers for clothing, was carefully husbanded and sent to his father, who was struggling with the difficulties of a new farm in the wilderness on the other side of the Alleghanies; and twice, during his Poultney residence, he visited those beloved parents, -traversing the distance of six hundred miles, partly on foot, and partly by the tedious canal boat.
In June, 1830, the Spectator. and its office were discontinued, and Greeley, released from his engagement some months earlier than he had expected, started off, with little else than a ward. robe which could be stuffed into his pocket, a sore leg, a retentive memory and a knowledge of the art of printing—to see his father. After a while we find him working for eleven dollars per month, in the office of a "Jackson paper," at Sodus, New York, and still later for fifteen dollars per month in the office of the Gazette, a weekly paper published at Erie, Pennsylvania, At first he was refused work on account of his extremely verdant appearance; but, finally, was taken in on trial and ere long was in high favor with all who knew him. Seven months passed away, and again we find our hero trying his fortunes in a new place—this time, in New York itself. His arrival and adventures in the "Great Metropolis," in which he was, in the course of years, to become so well known, much talked about, and useful a citizen, are best described in his own words.
"It was, if I recollect aright, the 17th of August, 1831. I was twenty years old the preceding February; tall, slender, pale and plain, with ten dollars in my pocket, summer clothing worth perhaps as much more, nearly all on my back, and a decent knowledge of so much of the Art of Printing as a boy will usually learn in the office of a country newspaper. But I knew no human being within two hundred miles, and my unmistakably rustic manner and address did not favor that immediate command of remunerating employment which was my most urgent need. However, the world was all before me; my personal estate, tied up in a pocket-handkerchief, did not at all encumber me; and I stepped lightly off the boat and away from the sound of the detested hiss of escaping steam, walking into and up Broad street in quest of a boarding-house. I found and entered one at or near the corner of Wall; but the price of board given me was six dollars per week; so I did not need the giver's candidly kind suggestion that I would probably prefer one where the charge was more moderate. Wandering thence, I cannot say how, to the North River side, I halted next at 168 West street, where the sign of "Boarding" on a humbler edifice fixed my attention. I entered, and was offered shelter and subsistence at $2.50 per week, which seemed more rational, and I closed the bargain.
Having breakfasted, I began to ransack the city for work, and, in my total ignorance, traversed many streets where none could possibly be found. In the course of that day and the next, however, I must have visited fully two thirds of the printing-offices on Manhattan island, without a gleam of success. It was mid-summer, when business in New York is habitually dull; and my youth and unquestionable air of country greenness must have told against me. When I called at the Journal of Commerce, its editor, Mr. David Hale, bluntly told me I was a runaway-apprentice from some country office; which was a very natural, though mistaken, presumption. I returned to my lodging on Saturday evening, thoroughly weary, disheartened, disgusted with New York, and resolved to shake its dust from my feet next morning, while I could still leave with money in my pocket, and before its alms-house could foreclose upon me.
But that was not to be. On Sunday afternoon and evening, several young Irishmen called at Mr. McGolrick's, in their holiday saunterings about town; and, being told that I was a young printer in quest of work, interested themselves in my effort, with the spontaneous kindness of their race. One among them happened to know a place where printers were wanted, and gave me the requisite direction; so that, on visiting the designated spot next morning, I readily found employment; and thus, when barely three days a resident, I had found anchorage in New York.
The printing establishment was John T. West's, over McElrath & Bangs' publishing-house, 68 Chatham street, and the work was at my call, simply because no printer who knew the city would accept it. It was the composition of a very small, (32mo) Now Testament, in double columns, of Agate type, each column barely twelve ems wide, with a centre column of notes in Pearl, barely four ems wide : the text thickly studded with references by Greek and superior letters to the notes, which of course were preceded and discriminated by corresponding indices, with prefatory and supplementary re-marks on each Book, set in Pearl, and only paid for as Agate. The type was considerably smaller than any to which I had been accustomed; the narrow measure and thickly-sown Italics of the text, with the strange characters employed as indices, rendered it the slowest and by far the most difficult work I had ever undertaken; while the making up, proving, and correcting, twice and even thrice over, preparatory to stereotyping, nearly doubled the time required for ordinary composition. I was never a swift type-settter; I aimed to be an assiduous and correct one;, but my proofs on this work at first looked as though they had caught the chicken-pox, and were in the worst stage of a profuse eruption. For the first two or three weeks, being sometimes kept waiting for letter, I scarcely made my board; while, by diligent type-sticking through twelve to fourteen hours per day; I was able, at my best, to earn but a dollar per day. As scarcely another compositor could be induced to work on it more than two days, I bad this job in good part to myself, - and I persevered to the end of it. I had removed, very soon after obtaining it, to Mrs. Mason's shoemaker boarding-house at the corner of Chatham and Duane streets, nearly opposite my work; so that I was enabled to keep doing nearly all the time I did not need for meals and sleep. When it was done, I was out of work for a fortnight, in spite of my best efforts to find more; so I attended, as an unknown spectator, the sittings of the Tariff Convention, which was held at the American Institute, north end of the City Hall Park, and presided over by Hon. William Wilkins, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I next found work in Ann street, on a short-lived monthly, where my pay was not forthcoming; and the next month saw me back at West's, where a new work—a commentary on the Book; of Genesis, by Rev. George Bush—had come in; and I worked on it throughout. The chirography was blind; the author made many vexatious alterations in proof; the page was small and the type close; but, though the reverse of fat, in printers' jargon, it was not nearly so abominably lean as the Testament; and I regretted to reach the end of it. When I did, I was again out of work, and seriously meditated seeking employment at something else than printing; but the winter was a hard one, and business in New York stagnant to an extent not now conceivable."
From January, 1832, and through the dreary "cholera summer," Greeley worked on the Spirit of the Times, a new sporting paper, and tree gained the devoted friendship of its foreman, Mr. Francis V. Story, with whom he afterwards entered into partnership. The main dependence of their business was the printing of Sylvester's "Bank-Note Reporter;" and the publication of Dr. H. D. Shepard's "penny-paper," The Morning Post, and the pioneer of the cheap-for-cash dailies in New York City. Hiring rooms on the south-east corner of Nassau and Liberty streets, the young " typos" invested their scanty capital (less than $200); obtained $40 worth of material, on credit, from Mr. George Bruce, the eminent type founder, and commenced their business career. The Post, however, was " ahead of the Age"—and died, when scarcely a month old, leaving its printers " hard aground on a lee shore, with little prospect of getting off." Fortunately, however, they escaped total bankruptcy, by a successful sale of the wrecked paper to another party, in whose hands it was teetotally extinguished, "forever and aye." Working early and late, looking sharply on every side for jobs, and economizing to the last degree, the firm were beginning to make decided headway, when Mr. Story was drowned, in June, 1833. His place was taken by his brother-in law, Mr. Jonas Winchester—since widely known in the newspaper world; and again the concern was favored with steady and moderate prosperity, until, in March, 1834, they issued the first number of The New Yorker, a large, fair, cheap weekly, devoted to current literature, etc., of which Mr. Greeley took the sole editorial supervision for the next seven years and a half. Two years after its birth the partnership was dissolved and Greeley took the -New Yorker, which held its own pretty well until the commercial revulsion of 1837. In July, 1836, Mr. Greeley had married, deeming himself worth $5000 and the owner of a remunerative business. To a man of so singularly independent and honest a character as his, the debts incurred were a source of the most terrible mental anxiety and suffering. In his autobiography, he speaks most feelingly of the horrors of bankruptcy and debt, closing with these intense but truthful remarks :
"For my own part—and I speak from sad experience—I would rather be a convict in State prison, a slave in a rice-swamp, than to pass through life under the harrow of debt. Let no young man misjudge himself unfortunate, or truly poor, so long as he has the full use of his limbs and faculties and is substantially free from debt. Hunger, cold, rags, hard work,, contempt, suspicion, unjust reproach, are disagreeable; but debt is infinitely worse than them all. And, if it had pleased God to spare either or all of my sons to be the support and solace of my declining years, the lesson which I should have most earnestly sought to impress upon them is—" Never run into debt ! Avoid pecuniary obligation as you would pestilence or famine. If you have but fifty cents, and can get no more for a week, buy a peck of corn, parch it and live on it, rather than owe any man a dollar ?" Of course, I know that some men must do business that involves risks, and must often give notes and other obligations, and t do not consider him really in debt who can lay his hands directly on the means of paying, at some little sacrifice, all he owes; I speak of real debt which involves risk or sacrifice on the one side, obligation and dependence on the other—and I say, from all such, let every youth humbly pray God to preserve him evermore I"
The New Yorker came to an end in March, 1841, with an outstanding book account of some $10,000 due to its editor and proprietor, of which, it is needless to say, he never afterwards saw the first cent. Among the " memorabilia" of its history is the fact that Hon. Henry J. Raymond, late the chief editor of the New York Times, and a " power" in the American press, commenced his editorial life as assistant editor of the New Yorker on a salary of $8 a week.
While running this paper, Mr. Greeley, in addition to supplying leading articles to the Daily Whig for several months, undertook, in March, 1838, the entire editorship of the Jeferersonian, a weekly campaign paper, published for a year, at Albany, by the Whig Central Committee of the State of New York. The sheet had a circulation of 15,000, its editor $1000 salary and it was a " rousing" good political paper, aiming " to convince, not to inflame, to enlighten, not to blind." The energy, industry, and courage (mental as well as physical), required to edit a weekly paper in New York City and another in Albany, can be imagined only by those who understand the nature of an editor's duties. Into the Harrison campaign of 1840, Greeley threw his whole energies, issuing, on the 2d of May, the first number of The Log Cabin, a weekly paper, appearing simultaneously in New York and Albany, for the six months' campaign. It was conducted with wonderful spirit and made an unprecedented hit, 48,000 of the first number being sold in a day and the issue increasing to between 80,000 and90,000 copies per week. Greeley's own interest in the questions at issue was most intense, and his labors were incessant and arduous. He wrote articles, he made speeches, he sat on committees, he travelled, he gave advice, he suggested plans, while he had two newspapers on his hands and a load of debt upon his shoulders." Designed only as a campaign paper, the Lug Cabin survived the emergency for which it had been created, and, as a family political paper, continued with moderate success until finally merged, together with the New Yorker, in the Tribune.
The Tribune first saw light on the 10th of April, 1841, with a " start" of 600 subscribers, and a borrowed capital of $1000. Its first experiences were not altogether promising, but it was full of fight, and the foolish attempt of a rival, The Sun, to crush it, aroused the pugnacity of its editor to its fullest extent. The public became interested, also; and by its seventh week, it had an edition of 11,000. New presses became necessary—advertisements poured in; and then just " in the nick of time"—Mr. Thomas McElrath was secured as a business partner, and with him came also the order and efficiency, which have rendered the Tribune establishment one of the best conducted newspaper offices in the world.
Now came another epoch in Horace Greeley's career—viz.: that of Fourierism. A Socialist in theory he had been for years before the Tribune was commenced—and, when Albert Brisbane returned from Paris, in 18.41, full to overflowing of the principles. of the Apostle of the Doctrine of Association, Greeley became one of his earliest and most devoted followers. He wrote, talked, lectured on Fourierism;—but, with the famous six months' newspaper discussion of the subject, in 1846, between Greeley and his former lieutenant, H. J. Raymond, then of the Courier and Enquirer—the subject died out of the public mind. In April, 1842, the Tribune, which had started as a penny paper, commenced its second volume at two cents per number, without any appreciable loss of its subscription. At the same time, Greeley and McElrath commenced a monthly magazine, called " The American Laborer," devoted chiefly to the advocacy of protection. Gradually, also, they got into a some-what extensive book publishing business, which, however, proved unprofitable and was relinquished, excepting the "Whig Almanac," a valuable statistical and political compend, which, in 1868, enjoyed the honor of being entirely reprinted by the process of photo-lithography. In 1843, began the Evening Tribune, and in 1845, the Semi- Weekly. Water-Cure, the Erie Railroad, Irish Repeal, Protection and Clay were the principal objects to which the Tribune gave the full weight of its powerful influence. In 1845, the Tribune office was burned; and that year and the two following were years full of hard knocks received, and good earnest blows heartily given, against Capital punishment, the Mexican War, Slavery, Orthodoxy, the Native American party, the drama, etc., etc. In 1848, Mr. Greeley was chosen to represent the Congressional District in the House of Representatives for a short session; and hardly was he seated there before he introduced a Land Reform Bill; " walked into" the tariff; made in the Tribune a grand expose of the Congressional Mileage system (which roused the wrath of that honorable body and became the talk of the nation), and " pitched into," generally, all the money-spending, time-wasting expedients by which public interests and business were delayed. The tide of corruption, however, was too great to be success-fully stemmed by one honest man, and Greeley's three months career as a Congressman may be summed up in this, that " as a member of Congress, he was truer to himself and dared more in behalf of his constituents than any man who ever sat for one session only in the House of Representatives."
Meantime, the Tribune establishment was on the high road to success; and was valued by competent judges at $100,000, a low estimate perhaps, when we consider that its annual profits amounted to over $30,000. Both of its proprietors were now in the enjoyment of incomes more than sufficient for what they needed—and now they determined to give a practical proof of their belief in a doctrine which they had earnestly advocated for several years previous—viz.: the advantages of associated labor and profit. The property was divided into one hundred $1000 shares, each of which entitled the holder to one vote in the decisions of the company—thus conferring the dignity and advantage of ownership on many interested parties, while the contesting power practically remained with Greeley and McElrath. It is needless to say that the " Tribune Association" has been an eminent success.
In 1850, a volume of Mr. Greeley's lectures and essays was published, under the title of " Hints toward Reform." In April, 1851, Mr. Greeley visited England, to view the " World's Fair" and, on his arrival there, found that he had been appointed, by the American commissioner, as a member of the jury on hard-ware. The first month of his brief holiday was conscientiously employed in the discharge of the tedious and onerous duties thus assigned him;—and, at the banquet, given at Richmond, by the London commissioners to the foreign commissioners, he had the honor of proposing, with a speech, the health of Joseph Paxton, the architect of the Crystal Palace. He also did good service to the cause of cheap popular literature, by his evidence given, as an American newspaper editor, before two sessions of a committee appointed by Parliament for the consideration of the proposed repeal of "taxes on knowledge," viz.: the duty on advertisements, and on every periodical containing news. A rapid "run" through the continent, and Greeley was back in his sanctum in the Tribune building, by the middle of August, and his experiences were given to the world in an interesting volume entitled, "Glances at Europe." With the defeat of General Scott, and the annihilation of the old Whig party, in November, 1852, the Tribune ceased to be a party paper, and its editor a party man. The same year he performed a sad but grateful token of regard to the memory of one whom he devotedly admired, by finishing Sargent's Life of Henry Clay. And, as he found himself now released from the shackles of party politics, he began to yearn for the repose and calm delights of moral life. He purchased a neat farm of fifty acres in Westchester county, where, in such scanty leisure as his editorial life allows him, he has put into practical operation some of his long cherished theories in regard to farming, etc.
In 1856, he published an able " History of the struggle for Slavery Extension, or Restriction, in the United States, from 1787 to 1856;" and, in 1859, he made a trip to California, via Kansas, Pike's Peak and Utah, being received, at many principal towns and cities, by the municipal authorities and citizens, whom he addressed on politics, the Pacific railroad, temperance, etc., and on his return, published the facts in regard to the mining regions which he had observed, in a duodecimo volume, which sold largely.
Into all the momentous issues of the war of the rebellion, Mr. Greeley, as was to have beet expected from his position and his antecedents, threw the full weight of his immense influence and endeavors. During the great " Draft Riot" of New York, in July, 1863, he was " marked" as an obnoxious person, and a house where he had formerly boarded was entered and completely sacked by the mob. The office of the Tribune was also attacked by the mob, who sought diligently for him, but the gallant efforts of the police soon dispersed them. In July, 1864, he was induced, by the pretended anxiety of certain parties claiming to represent the Confederate Government, and who desired to enter into negotiations for peace, to use his personal influence with President Lincoln for an interview, but Mr. Lincoln's adroitness soon elicited the fact that these self-styled pacifieators had no real authority to act in the premises, and the matter resulted only in the issue of the celebrated "To whom it may concern" message.
In 1865-67, Mr. Greeley's history of the war was published in two volumes, under the title of "The American Conflict," had an immense sale, and is justly regarded, North and South, as the best political history of that struggle, yet presented to the public.
Since the completion of that work, he has also published a series of essays on "Political Economy," giving in his own peculiar yet forcible way the arguments, new and old, in favor of protection to American industry; a revised and enlarged edition of his autobiography, or "Recollections of a Busy Life," a volume of "Letters from the Southwest and Texas," first contributed to the Tribune while he was visiting that section of country; and a very sensible and, on the whole, modest book on agricultural topics, entitled What I Know About Farming." This work, mainly in consequence of its title, has been the fruitful source of innumerable jokes, good, bad and indifferent, by all the newspaper wits and witlings from Maine to Mexico. Probably not one in fifty of them ever saw the book or read a page of it.
Mr. Greeley is a very good farmer; not, perhaps, so observant of all those. niceties and elegancies which make fancy farming ordinarily so brilliant but costly a luxury as some others, but a farmer who understands how to make 'farming pay, even when the farm was originally a poor and unpromising one. His book is a plain and graphic account of his own experiences, not sparing his blunders, and it is a book from which any practical farmer can derive many beneficial hints and suggestions.
It has always been a matter of wonder to us, who have known Mr. Greeley for so many years, that he should be ambitious for office. That he possesses the qualifications in the way of broad and comprehensive views, large political and politico-economical attainments, and unflinching honesty and uprightness, which would fit him for almost any office in the gift of the people, we do not doubt. He might be the better for a higher degree of refinement and greater courtesy of manner; but his bluff and some-times awkward address is a part of his nature, and is as inseparable from him as his skin. Yet why he should be ambitious to be a member of Congress, a Governor, a United States Senator, or a President, has always passed our comprehension. As editor of the New York Tribune, he wielded an influence in-finitely greater than any Congressman, Governor, Senator, or President could ever hope to exercise.
From a quarter to half a million of men believed in Horace Greeley as religiously as they believed in their Bibles, and many of them reverenced his opinions more than those of any other human being. He was, in the Republican administration, and had been for a dozen years and more, "the power behind the throne greater than the throne." It could not be for the emoluments of office, for though he can hardly be called rich, being too liberal and lavish a giver ever to roll up a fortune, still his income was very little, if at all, less than that of the President of the United States, and it was not for a four years' term, but for life.
Yet there could be no question about the ambition. Though seldom gratified, (he had been a member of Congress for one session, and a member of the Constitutional Convention, beside some minor appointments, not wholly political,) its existence was evident always. It was, perhaps, most conspicuous in his letter to the old firm, as he termed them, of Seward, Weed & Co.: first published ten or twelve years ago, and which he has republished himself within the present year. From any other standpoint than the somewhat peculiar one occupied by Mr. Greeley himself, the complaints that Mr. Seward had not bestowed upon him this or that office, seem whimsical and childish. At the time when this letter was written, Horace Greeley wielded a power essentially greater than William H. Seward had ever exerted. He was the cause of Mr. Lincoln's nomination and Mr. Seward's defeat in the struggle for the Presidency, in 1860 and through the civil war, as through European wars since, if he did not organize victory, he often precipitated action.
It has been a characteristic of Mr. Greeley hitherto, that greatly as he might desire office (and we are bound to believe for no ignoble purpose, but solely that he might benefit his country), he was very sure by bringing forward some whim or crotchet, which he knew to be unpopular, but which he had adopted, to destroy his chances of election. He had done this so many times that his warmest friends had begun to be doubtful of the propriety of giving him a nomination. That he had any aspirations for the Presidency would two years ago have been regarded as a huge joke. But it is pretty well settled that he has been for years aiming in that direction.
Though he has acted with the Republican party ever since its existence, except in some local matters, where a bolt was certainly allowable, yet he was known to entertain views differing from many of the leaders in regard to the conduct of the war, the proclamation of universal amnesty and impartial suffrage the bailing of Jefferson Davis, compensation for the slaves, etc., etc.
About a year and a half since, a New York daily paper, whose editor was Mr. Greeley's bitterest personal enemy (and he has some very bitter ones), began to dedicate two columns of his paper daily to the record of the doings of " Useless S. Grant " and his rival for the Presidency, whom he announced sometimes as " Useful H. Greeley," and sometimes as " The Great and Good Dr. Horace Greeley of Texas and Oregon." The whole affair was in-tended as a personal joke of huge proportions, but of so coarse a character that it was supposed every one would see through it.
But what this Ishmaelite editor intended as a stupendous joke came in time to be considered by a large proportion of the people as sober earnest. Mr. Greeley had been gradually drawing away from the Administration. Identified with the Fenton wing of the Republican party in New York, he soon drew down upon himself the bitter hostility of Mr. Roscoe Conkling and his friends, and as Mr. Conkling had the ear of the President in regard to New York appointments, Mr. Greeley's friends were mercilessly slaughtered. Soon there came other grievances; Mr. Greeley had labored earnestly, and with all the intensity of his will, to have one or two men removed from important and lucrative Government appointments in New York city, on the alleged ground of their incompetency and corruption. That he fully believed the charges which he brought against them, and which he brought a large array of facts to sustain, no one who knows him will doubt for a moment. But the President was reluctant to remove these men, and when he finally felt compelled to do so, he gave to the chief offender a certificate of character, which was in substance a declaration that he did not believe the charges made against him.
Soon after this there was a strong pressure made for President Grant's renomination, and Mr. Greeley, who has been a consistent advocate of one term for the Presidency for many years, denounced this movement in unmeasured terms. He also made charges of nepotism and favoritism against the President. Other prominent men joined in this opposition to the President, and it was at length determined to hold a Convention of Republicans opposed to the renomination of President Grant, in Cincinnati, in the first week in May, 1872. The call for this convention came from Mr. Greeley's life-long enemies, the Free-Traders, and it was supposed that Judge David Davis of Illinois, or Mr. Charles Francis Adams, or possibly, Judge Trumbull of Illinois would be its candidate. But Mr. Greeley's friends (we hardly believe he himself gave anything more than a passive assent to their exertions) had been active in securing delegates to the convention, and at its meeting, after the adoption of a very good platform, which referred the question of free-trade back to the Congressional Districts for full adjudication by the election of representatives on that issue, Horace Greeley was nominated for the Presidency on the sixth ballot.
At first the news took the whole country by surprise, and it was
received in many quarters with distrust, and in some with denunciation.
But it soon appeared that very many of the Southern people were in favor
of the nomination. The Democracy, though acknowledging that it was a
bitter pill to be obliged to vote for their most virulent enemy, yet
wheeled into line, and having no nominee of their own on whom they could
unite, in their State Conventions, with an extraordinary unanimity,
sanctioned the nomination. The disaffected Republicans, at first a small
body, grew in numbers daily, and unlikely as it seemed in 1871, he would
be a bold man who should say to-day, that the election of Horace Greeley
as President of the United States, in November, 1872, was either
impossible or very improbable. The address and platform of the Cincinnati
Convention to which we have already alluded, was as follows :
The administration now in power has rendered itself guilty of wanton disregard of the laws of the land, and usurped powers not granted by the Constitution. It has acted as if the laws had binding force only for those who are governed, and not for those who govern. It has thus struck a blow at the fundamental principles of constitutional government and the liberty of the citizen. The President of the United States has openly used the powers and opportunities' of his high office for the promotion of personal ends. He has kept notoriously corrupt and unworthy men in places of power and responsibility to the detriment of the public interest. He has used the public service of the Government as a machinery of partisan and personal influence, and interfered with tyrannical arrogance in the political affairs of States and municipalities. He has rewarded, with influential and lucrative offices, men who ha acquired his favor by valuable presents; thus stimulating demoralization of our political life by his conspicuous example. He has shown himself deplorably unequal to the tasks imposed upon him by the necessities of the country, and culpably careless of the responsibilities of his high office. The partisans of the Admin. istration, assuming to be the Republican party and controlling its organization, have attempted to justify such wrongs and palliate such abuses, to the end of maintaining partisan ascendancy. They have stood in the way of necessary investigations and indispensable reforms, pretending that no serious fault could be found with the present administration of public affairs; thus seeking to blind the eyes of the people. They have kept alive the passions and resentments of the late civil war, to use them for their own advantage.
They have resorted to arbitrary measures in direct conflict with the
organic law, instead of appealing to the better instincts and latent
patriotism of the Southern people by restoring to them those rights, the
enjoyment of which is indispensable for a successful administration of
their local affairs, and would tend to move a patriotic and hopeful
national feeling. They have degraded themselves and the name of their
party, once justly entitled to the confidence of the nation, by a base
sycophancy to the dispenser of executive power and patronage unworthy of
Republican free-men; they have sought to stifle the voice of just
criticism, to stifle the moral sense of the people, and to subjugate
public opinion by tyrannical party discipline. They are striving to
maintain themselves in authority for selfish ends by an unscrupulous use
of the power which rightfully be-longs to the people, and should be
employed only in the service of the country. Believing that an
organization thus led and controlled can no longer be of service to the
best interests of the Republic, we have resolved to make an independent
appeal to the sober judgment, conscience, and patriotism of the American
We, the Liberal Republicans of the United States, in National Convention assembled at Cincinnati, proclaim the following principles as essential to just government:
I. We recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of Government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political.
II. We pledge ourselves to maintain the union of these States, emancipation and enfranchisement, and to oppose any reopening of the questions settled by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
III. We demand the immediate and absolute removal of all disabilities imposed on account of the Rebellion, which was finally subdued seven years ago, believing that universal amnesty will result-in complete pacification in all sections of the country.
IV. Local self-government, with impartial suffrage, will guard the rights of all citizens more securely than any centralized power. The public welfare requires the supremacy of the civil over the military authority, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus. We demand for the individual the largest liberty consistent with public order; for the State, self-government, and for the nation a return to the methods of peace and the constitutional limitations of power.
V. The Civil Service of the Government has become a mere instrument of partisan tyranny and personal ambition and an object of selfish greed. It is a scandal and reproach upon free institutions, and breeds a demoralization dangerous to the perpetuity of Republican Government. We there-fore regard such thorough reforms of the Civil Service as one of the most pressing necessities of the hour; that honesty, capacity, and fidelity constitute the only valid claim to public employment; that the offices of the Government cease to be a matter of arbitrary favoritism and patronage, and that public station become again a post of honor. To this end it is imperatively required that no President shall be a candidate for reelection.
VI. We demand a system of Federal taxation which shall not unnecessarily interfere with the industry of the people, and which shall provide the means necessary to pay the expenses of the Government, economically administered, the pensions, the interest on the public debt, and a mode-rate 'education annually of the principal thereof; and, recognizing that there are in our midst honest but irreconcilable differences of opinion with regard to the respective systems of Protection and Free-Trade, we remit the discussion of the subject to the people in their Congress Districts, and to the decision of Congress thereon, wholly free of Executive interference or dictation.
VII The public credit must be sacredly maintained, and we denounce repudiation in every form and guise.
VIII. A speedy return to specie payment is demanded alike by the highest considerations of commercial morality and honest government.
IX. We remember with gratitude the heroism and sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors of the Republic, and no act of ours shall ever detract from their justly earned fame or the full reward of their patriotism.
X. We are opposed to all further grants of lands to railroads or other corporations. The public domain shout be held sacred to actual settlers.
XI. We hold that it is the duty of the Government, in its intercourse with foreign nations, to cultivate the friendship of peace, by treating with all on fair and equal terms, regarding It alike dishonorable either to demand what is not right. or to submit to what is wrong.
XII. For the promotion and success of these vital principles, and the support of the candidates nominated by this convention, we invite and cordially welcome the cooperation of all patriotic citizens, without regard to previous affiliations. HORACE WHITE,
Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions. G. P. THURSTON, Secretary.
The officers of the Cincinnati Convention notified Mr. Greeley of his nomination in the following terms :
CINCINNATI, Ohio, May 3d, 1872.
DEAR SIR :—The National Convention of the Liberal Republicans of the United States have instructed the undersigned, President, Vice-President, and Secretaries of the Convention to inform you that you have been nominated as the candidate of the Liberal Republicans for the Presidency
of the United States. We also submit to you the Address and Resolutions unanimously adopted by the Convention.
Be pleased to signify to us your acceptance of the platform and the nomination, and believe us, Very truly yours,
C. SCHURZ, President,
GEO. W. JULIAN, Vice-President WM. E. MCLEAN,
JOHN G DAVIDSON, Secretaries.
J. H. RHODES, _ ,
Hon. HORACE GREELEY. New York City. To this communication Mr. Greeley replied, on the 20th of May, as follows :
New York, May 20th, 1872.
GENTLEMEN :—I have chosen not to acknowledge your letter of the 3d inst. until I could learn how the work of your Convention was received in all parts of our great country, and judge whether that work was approved and ratified' by the mass of our fellow-citizens. Their response has from day to day reached me through telegrams, letters, and the comments of journalists independent of official patronage and indifferent to the smiles or frowns of power. The number and character of these unconstrained, unpurchased, unsolicited utterances, satisfy me that the movement which found expression at Cincinnati has received the stamp of public approval, and been hailed by a majority of our countrymen as the harbinger of a better day for the Republic.
I do not misinterpret this approval as especially complimentary to myself, nor even to the chivalrous and justly esteemed gentleman with whose name I thank your Convention for associating mine. I receive and welcome it as a spontaneous and deserved tribute to that admirable Platform of principles, wherein your Convention so tersely, so lucidly, so forcibly, set forth the convictions which impelled and the purposes which guided its course—a Platform which, casting behind it the wreck and rubbish of worn-out contentions and bygone feuds, embodies in fit and few words the needs and aspirations of to-day. Though thousands stand ready to condemn your every act, hardly a syllable of criticism or cavil has been aimed at your Platform, of which the substance may be fairly epitomized as follows :
I. All the political rights and franchises which have been acquired through our late bloody convulsion must and shall be guaranteed, maintained, enjoyed, respected, evermore.
II. All the political rights and franchises which have been lost through that convulsion should and must be promptly restored and reestablished, so that there shall be henceforth no proscribed class and no disfranchised caste within the limits of our Union, whose long estranged people shall reunite and fraternize upon the broad basis of Universal Amnesty with Impartial Suffrage.
III. That, subject to our solemn constitutional obligation to maintain the equal rights of all citizens, our policy should aim at local self-government, and not at centralization; that the civil authority should be supreme over the military; that the writ of habeas corpus should be jealously up-held as the safeguard of personal freedom; that the individual citizen should enjoy the largest liberty consistent with public order; and that there shall be no Federal subversion of the internal polity of the several States and municipalities, but that each shall be left free to enforce the rights and promote the well-being of its inhabitants by such means as the judgment of its own people shall prescribe.
IV. There shall be a real and not merely a simulated Reform in the Civil Service of the Republic; to which end it is indispensable that the chief dispenser of its vast official patronage shall be shielded from the main temptation to use his power selfishly by a rule inexorably forbidding and precluding his reelection.
V. That the raising of Revenue, whether by Tariff or otherwise, shall be recognized and treated as the people's immediate business, to be shaped and directed by them through their Representatives in Congress, whose action thereon the President must neither overrule by his veto, attempt to dictate, nor presume to punish, by bestowing office only on those who agree with him or withdrawing it from those who do not.
VI. That the Public Lands must be sacredly reserved for occupation and acquisition by cultivators, and not recklessly squandered on the projectors of Railroads for which our people have no present need, and the premature construction of which is annually plunging us into deeper and deeper abysses of foreign indebtedness.
VII. That the achievement of these grand purposes of universal beneficence is expected and sought at the hands of all who approve them irrespective of past affiliations.
VIII. That the public faith must at all hazards be maintained, and the national credit preserved.
IX. That the patriotic devotedness and inestimable services of our fellow. citizens who, as soldiers or sailors, upheld the flag and maintained the unity of the Republic shall ever be gratefully remembered and honorably requited.
These propositions, so ably and forcibly presented in the Platform of your Convention, have already fixed the attention and commanded the assent of a large majority of our countrymen, who joyfully adopt them, as I do, as the bases of a true, beneficent National Reconstruction—of a New Departure from jealousies, strifes, and hates, which have no longer adequate motive or even plausible pretext, into an atmosphere of peace, fraternity, and mutual good will. In vain do the drill-sergeants of decaying organizations flourish menacingly their truncheons and angrily insist that the files shall be closed and straightened; in vain do the whippers-in of parties once vital because rooted in the vital needs of the hour protest against straying and bolting, denounce men nowise their inferiors as traitors and renegades, and threaten them with infamy and ruin. I am confident that the American people have already made your cause their own, fully re-solved that their brave hearts and strong arms shall bear it on to triumph. In this faith, and with the distinct understanding that, if elected, I shall be. the President not of a party, but of the whole people, I accept your nomination in the confident trust that the masses of our countrymen. North and South, are eager to clasp hands across the bloody chasm which has too long divided them, forgetting that they have been enemies in the joyful consciousness that they are and must henceforth remain brethren. Yours, gratefully,
To Hon. CARL, SCHURZ, President; Hon. GEORGE W. JULIAN, Vice-President; and Messrs. WILLIAM E. MCLEAN, JOHN G. DAVIDSON, J. H.
RHODES, Secretaries of the National Convention of the Liberal Republicans of the United States.
There can be no question that this movement if successful, must result in the breaking up of old party lines and organizations, and in the development of new issues and questions on which men who have hitherto boon bitterly opposed to each other will find themselves working shoulder to shoulder; while many heretofore marching in the same ranks, will henceforth rally under different leaders and banners. Perhaps this may be well; at all events it is very likely to come; but whether the motley host who raise the Greeley banner, can, in the event of their success, be kept together for six months is not so certain; and whether Mr. Greeley will be the man to unite them in a harmonious party, when the great majority have hardly an opinion in common with him, is equally uncertain.
It had long been supposed by all who knew Mr. Greeley, that nothing but death could separate him from his beloved Tribune; but it is due to him to say that within a week after his nomination he withdrew from the editorship of the paper, which is, however, carried on in his interest by Mr. Whitelaw Reid, his able managing editor for the past three years.
We cannot, perhaps, better close this sketch of Mr. Greeley, than with the summary of his character given by his friend, Rev. Dr. Bellows, of the Liberal Christian, a summary which is as true as it is happy in its characterization:
" At home in city and country, and on both sides of the continent; with all the qualities of the Yankee—simple as shrewd, and shrewd as simple; good-natured as a healthy child, and passionate as the same on occasions; a wide lover of his species, and a tremendous hater of many of its individual varieties; open as the day, and inscrutable as the night; devoted to principle when not absorbed by measures; strong as a giant when some political Delilah has not shorn his locks in her lap; so pure that dirt won't stick to him, which makes him a little too free in going into it; not to be known by his associates, because quite superior to many of them; capable of a superhuman frankness and a Trappian silence—certainly America finds in him at this moment its most characteristic representative. He is the American par excellence."
The National Democratic Convention met in the city of Baltimore on July
9th, 1872, and organized. On the following day the Convention endorsed the
Cincinnati Platform, fully accepting its principles. The Baltimore
Convention also endorsed the nominations of Horace Greeley for President
and B. Gratz Brown for Vice-President, accepting almost unanimously these
gentle-men as the candidates of the Democratic party for these high
Copyright, 2005-2010 by Webified Development all rights reserved.