Horace Greeley



February 3, 1811: Birth of Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley made his name in publishing as founder (in 1841) and editor of the New York Tribune. The Tribune, known for its national and international reporting, featured such prominent writers as Margaret Fuller, Charles Dana and Karl Marx. Greeley’s editorials railed against slavery, poverty, suppression of women’s rights, capital punishment, tobacco, alcohol and marital infidelity, and promoted peace movements, vegetarianism, labor rights and high tariffs. Read any history of the Civil War, and you’re likely to come across Greeley's frequent, often contradictory exhortations to President Lincoln. Through the Tribune, Greeley became so well known and well liked that in 1872 he won 43% of the vote in the presidential election against incumbent Ulysses S. Grant.

Greeley grew up on a farm in Amherst, New Hampshire. Given the furor today about "climate change," I can’t resist including this selection from his Recollections of a Busy Life, 1868:

I well remember the cold summer (1816) when we rose on the eighth of June to find the earth covered with a good inch of newly fallen snow, - when there was frost every month, and corn did not fill till October. Plants grew very slowly that season, while burrowing insects fed and fattened on them. My task for a time was to precede my father as he hoed his corn, dig open the hills, and kill the wire-worms and grubs that were anticipating our dubious harvest.

Incidentally, Greeley didn’t say “Go west, young man,” although he did advise, “Do not lounge in the cities! There is room and health in the country, away from the crowds of idlers and imbeciles. Go west, before you are fitted for no life but that of the factory.”

Favorite quotes

Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.

Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.

The illusion that times that were are better than those that are, has probably pervaded all ages.

Cross references