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Horace Greeley

newspaper publisher whose editorials played an important part in molding public opinion

Horace Greeley, photograph by Matthew Brady

Horace Greeley was born in Amherst, New Hampshire, on February 3, 1811. He became an apprentice in a Vermont newspaper office when he was 15. He later moved to New York City, New York, where in 1833 he helped found the Morning Post, the first two-cent daily paper ever published; it ran for only three weeks, however.

Greeley's first successful publication was The New-Yorker, a weekly literary paper he founded in 1834. In 1840, he began publication of The Log Cabin, a weekly campaign paper supporting William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate for President. The next year he founded the New York Tribune, a penny daily, and combined The Log Cabin and The New-Yorker into the New-York Weekly Tribune. The Tribune lasted for 83 years before it merged with the New York Herald in 1924.

Greeley's publications were widely read, and many of the editorials printed in them were written by Greeley himself. However, what may be his most famous quote, "Go West, young man," was actually not original to Greeley. It was first used by Indiana Congressman John Soule in 1851. Greeley published the phrase in the New York Tribune as advice to the unemployed of New York City.

A leader in the antislavery movement, Greeley's editorials played an important part in molding public opinion, especially during the 20 years before the Civil War. His editorials against the spread of slavery into new territory increased the antislavery sentiment of the North. Greeley was one of the first editors to join the Republican Party, was a delegate to its second national convention, and helped Abraham Lincoln obtain the nomination for President. Although he supported Lincoln throughout the Civil War, his editorials often urged settling the conflict by compromise. In 1864 he met with several agents of the Confederacy in Canada to discuss peace terms, but the negotiations failed. After the war he wrote in favor of granting pardons to all members of the Confederacy. He even signed the bail bond of Jefferson Davis.

Greeley initially supported the administration of Ulysses Grant, but came to disagree with many of his policies and to oppose him openly. The Liberal Republicans and the Democrats nominated him for the presidency in 1872, but he lost decisively to Grant. He died in Pleasantville, New York, on November 29, 1872.

Horace Greeley was the author of several books, including Glances at Europe (1851), An Overland Journey to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859 (1860), The American Conflict (1866), Recollections of a Busy Life (1868), and What I Know of Farming (1871).

The city of Greeley, Colorado, was founded as Union Colony (a cooperative community) by Horace Greeley in 1870.

See Also

New Hampshire
New York City
William Henry Harrison
Civil War
Abraham Lincoln
Jefferson Davis
President Ulysses Grant

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The Robinson Library >> United States >> 1845-1861 >> Biography, A-Z

This page was last updated on February 03, 2019.