Biography of Horace Greeley

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Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley founded and edited several newspapers and periodicals while establishing himself in the national political arena.

Horace Greely may have been America’s most famous journalist. He was the founder and first editor of the New York Tribune and considered a molder of public opinion, specifically regarding the Civil War.

Horace Greeley, born in Amherst, New Hampshire in 1811, was reared in poverty. He did not receive an extensive education. When he turned 15, Greeley became an apprentice in a newspaper office in Vermont. There he learned his first lessons in the career that was destined to bring him into national prominence and help define a profession.

Starting in New York

In 1831, Greeley traveled to New York, with only ten dollars and a change of clothes. There he worked for two years in various printing offices before starting the Morning Post with two friends. The Post was the first two-cent daily in publication, and lasted only three weeks. In March 1834, Greeley began The New Yorker—a weekly literary newspaper that was popular during its seven years in existence.

In 1840, Greeley began The Log Cabin, a weekly campaign paper supporting presidential Whig nominee William Henry Harrison. The following year The New Yorker merged with the Weekly Tribune, a periodical popular in the northern part of the country. The Tribune was a very widely-read periodical, and Greeley used it as a voice to oppose slavery. He used his prominence to help Abraham Lincoln receive the presidential nomination.

After the Civil War

Greeley became a prominent figure both in journalism and politics. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party, and a delegate to the second national convention. By the end of the Civil War, Greeley was a proponent for peaceful resolutions and urged for the granting of a pardon for those involved in the war. He traveled to Canada to discuss the subject with several Confederate agents, but achieved not resolution. However, he was one of the signers of Jefferson Davis’s bail bond.

Greeley continued his interest in politics, becoming a critic of President Ulysses Grant’s administration. Greeley was even nominated for president in 1872 by the Liberal Republicans and the Democratic Party, which had taken the political stance of the Liberal Republicans. His political aspirations would end with the nomination. After the death of his wife, he became ill and died on November 29, 1872.

Publications

Greeley, who traveled extensively, published a variety of essays and books, including Hints Toward Reform, Glances at Europe, The American Conflict and Recollections of a Busy Life.