Abbildungen der Seite
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

HORACE GREELEY, the founder of the NEW YORK TRIBUNE, was born at Amherst, Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire, on the 3d of February, 1811. He was the son of Zaccheus and Mary (Woodburn) Greeley, and his father was a plain, hardworking farmer, struggling to pay for land which he had bought at a high price, and Mr. Greeley's earliest years were passed in such farm labor as a mere boy was equal toin riding horse to plow, in picking stones, and in watching the charcoal pits. He himself states in his "Recollections" that he was "a feeble, sickly child, often under medical treat-printing. He was now at the college of which he

ment, and unable to watch, through a closed window, the falling of rain, without incurring an instant and violent attack of illness." His mother had lost her two former children just before his own birth, which led her to regard him with more than common tenderness and anxiety. From the first he manifested signs of extraordinary intelligence. These his mother, who was a woman of uncommon intelligence and information, marked with affectionate interest. She was a great reader, and she naturally impart-complishing the rest on a slow canal boat. At

was destined to be one of the most distinguished graduates. It need not be said that he went on acquiring, for it was nature with him to acquire. He had a plenty of newspapers to pore over, and a tolerable store of books. He joined the village Lyceum, which was also a Debating Society, of which he was "the real giant." His parents were away upon a new farm in Pennsylvania, but twice he visited them, walking a great part of the distance of 600 miles, and ac

ed to her child the same love of books which she herself entertained. Mr. Greeley says that the stories which she told him awakened in him "a thirst for knowledge and a lively interest in reading and writing." He could read before he could talk-that is before he could pronounce the longer words. When he was but two years old the Bible was his favorite book. The newspaper, which was given to him as a plaything, be examined with curiosity; inquiring first about the pictures, then the capital letters, then the smaller ones. At three years of age, he read correctly any book prepared for children, and at four any book whatever. He himself draws a pretty picture of his learning to read at his mother's knee. "I can," he says, "faintly recollect her sitting at her little wheel with her book in her lap whence I was taking my daily lessons; and thus I soon acquired the facility of reading from a book sidewise or upside down as readily as in the usual fashion-a knack which I did not suppose at first peculiar, but which, being at length observed, became a subject of neighborhood wonder and fabulous exaggeration." It has been stated that so soon as he could form any resolution, he determined to be a printer. In his third winter he attended the district school of Londonderry, where his

this early period he was already a teetotaler, and though the apprentice boarded at a tavern where the drinking was constant, he continued a rigorous abstinent. His fund of information was such that he came to be regarded as a sort of walking encyclopedia, and to him the disputes of the villagers were referred. As a printer he was reckoned the best workman in the office. But the newspaper made no money, and when Horace was in his 20th year its publication was discontinued. He immediately looked out for work elsewhere, after he had written his parents in Pennsylvania, and he obtained employment as a journeyman in Jamestown and Lodi in New York, and Erie, Pa.

It was in August, 1881, that he came to the city of New York, poor in everything except good principles and indomitable energy. He found employment first as a compositor, after much difficulty. Subsequently in copartnership with a Mr. Story he started the Morning Post, the first penny daily ever printed in the world, and which soon glided into bankruptcy. The printing office continued, obtaining some job work, and the concern was becoming comparatively prosperous when Story was drowned. Mr. Winchester came in, and The New Yorker was started. This was a

In his seventh year even the limited success which had attended his father's farming ceased, and ruin could be no longer postponed by unflinching hard work When the child was ten the ruin was consummated, and his father was an exile and fugitive from his native State. He began the hard business of life again in the town of Westhaven, Rutland Co., Vt., where he was employed by a country gentleman of large estate. In 1826, young Greeley entered the office of The Northern Spectator, at East Poultney, Vt., as an apprentice to the art of

literary newspaper which, though its publication was not long continued, won so excellent a reputation that any particular account of it is here unnecessary. In Mr. Greeley's autobiography he gives a touching account of the difficulties which he encountered in this enterprise. The newspaper did a fairly good business, but it was not profitable to the proprietors, and the publication was stopped in 1841. All this time Mr. Greeley was eking out his slender income by othe labors. He supplied leading articles to The Daily Whig, and had previously, in 1833, edited The Jeffersonian, a political weekly campaign paper, published in Albany and New York. Everybody will remember The Log Cabin, the great Whig campaign newspaper, which Mr. Greeley edited in the stormy contests of 1840. The weekly issues of The Log Cabin ran up to 80,000, and with ample facilities for printing and mailing might have been increased to 100,000. Mr. Greeley afterwards said that, with the machinery of distribution now existing, the circulation might have been swelled to a quarter of a million.

gave me any trouble, and scarcely required of me a thought, during that long era of all but unclouded prosperity."

Of the subsequent career of THE TRIBUNE newspaper, it is hardly necessary that we should speak to the readers of THE TRIBUNE ALMANAC. Not more in what he wrote for it, than in what others wrote for it, it bears the impress of his vigorous intellect and unswerving integrity; of his unceasing observation of public affairs, and of his indomitable industry. It was

a Whig newspaper, but it was never blindly and Indiscriminately the newspaper of any party. It was always the advocate of a liberal protection to American industry, but its editor constantly admonished the American workman that by assiduity and intelligence he must protect himself. It boldly discussed social questions; it followed Fourier in bis ideas of associated labor, without indorsing the errors of his social doctrine; itexposed the corruptions of New York politics, and when the leaders of the party threatened its destruction, it simply defied them, and went on with its valiant work; it fought for independence of criticism, and for the right to publish the news, in the libel suit which Mr. Cooper brought against it; it introduced a better style of literary work than was common in newspapers at that time, and employed the best writers who were to be obtained. It was not too busy with home affairs to forget the wrongs of Ireland; and it always rebuked without mercy the spirit of caste which would reduce persons of African descent to social degradation. Always, whatever it discussed, THE TRIBUNE, when Mr. Greeley had hardly anybody to help him in its management and conduct, was wide-awake, vigorous and entertaining. It never forgot those who were struggling for liberty in other lands, whether they were Irish, English, or French, Hungarians, or Poles. It was the newspaper of universal humanity.

In 1848, Mr. Greeley was elected a Member of the House of Representatives, and he served in that body from December 1, of that year, to March 4, 1849. His career as a national lawmaker was a short one, but he made himself felt. He did not at all mince matters in writing to THE TRIRUNE his first impressions of the House. In the very beginning, he brought in a bill to discourage speculation in public lands, and establish homesteads upon the same. The abuses of mileage he kept no terms with. Members did not relish the exposure of their dishonesty, but all their talking did not in the least disturb Mr. Greeley's equanimity. He opposed appropriations for furnishing members

On the 10th day of April, 1841, the first number of the NEW YORK TRIBUNE was issued. It was a small sheet, retailed for a cent, Whig in its politics, but, to use Mr. Greeley's words, 66 a journal removed alike from servile partisanship on the one hand and from gagged and mincing neutrality on the other." The editor went gallantly to his work. He was thirty years old, in full health and vigor and worth about $2,000, half of it in printing material. Mr. Greeley was his own editor. Mr. IIenry J. Raymond, afterwards so celebrated in journalism, but then a lad fresh from college, was his first assistant, a post which he continued to hold for nearly eight years. Mr. George M. Snow took charge of the Wall st., or financial department, and held it for more than twentyone years. THE TRIBUNE was started with five hundred names of subscribers, and of the first number five thousand were either sold or given away. The current expenses of the first week were $520; the receipts were $92; but soon the income pretty nearly balanced the outgo. About six months after the commencement of THE TRIBUNE, and when it had reached a self-sustaining basis, Mr. Thomas McElrath, who had some capital, took charge of the business, leaving Mr. Greeley free to attend tothe editorial department, and the famous firm of Greeley & McElrath was established. In Mr. Greeley's autobiography he pays a warm tribute to the business abilities of his partner. "IIe was," says Mr. Greeley, so safe and judicious that the business never


with libraries at the public expense. No member was ever more faithful to his duties, and no one ever received smaller reward.

course which at that dangerous and difficult moment he thought it the most prudent and advisable to pursue. He took the ground that if it could be shown, upon a fair vote, that a majority of the citizens of the seceding States really desired such secession, then the remaining States should acquiesce in the rupture. "We disclaim," he said, "a union of force-a union held together by bayonets; let us be fairly heard; and, if your people decide that they choose to break away from us, we wil interpose no obstacle to their peaceful with

In 1851, Mr. Greeley visited Europe, and in London acted as one of the jurors of the Great Exbibition. He also appeared before the Parliamentary Committee having under consideration the newspaper taxes, and gave important and useful information respecting the newspaper press of America. His letters written during his absence to THE TRIBUNE are among the most interesting productions of his pen. In 1855, Mr. Greeley again visited Europe for the pur-drawal from the Union." This doctrine, nakedpose mainly of attending the French Exhibition. ly stated, exposed those who propounded it to In 1856, he spent much of the winter in Wash- no little misapprehension, and consequent obington, commenting for THE TRIBUNE upon the loquy. Mr. Greeley always thought to the end proccedings of Congress, and it was at this time of his life, that if a fair vote could be taken, it that he was brutally assaulted by Mr. Rust, a would be found that the South was not for secesMember of Congress from Arkansas. In 1856, sion, and that all the efforts of the disunionists THE TRIBUNE was indicted in Virginia-at least had alienated but a minority of the Southern a man was indicted for getting up a club to States or people from the Federal Union. He promote its circulation, and Mr. Greeley was in- even insisted that it was because of his cerdicted with him. It was of little use that the tainty that a majority of the Southern people tone in which THE TRIBUNE discussed slavery was were not in favor of secession, that he urged moderate; its crime was that it discussed the the popular vote; and that the vote, whersubject at all. The absurdity was in supposing ever fairly taken, fully confirmed that view. He that such a topic could be kept out of the news- believed that the traitorous leaders had precippapers. itated action because they feared that delay would be fatal to their schemes. When hostilities had actually commenced, he thought that the Government showed irresolution and delay. The result was "weary months of halting, timid, nerveless, yet costly warfare," while the rebellion might have been stamped out ere the close of 1861. In 1864, Mr. Greeley was engaged in another attempt at accommodation. In consequence of overtures made by Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, James P. Holcombe, of Virginia, and George N. Sanders, a plan of adjustment was submitted by Mr. Greeley to President Lincoln. This proposed the restoration and perpetuity of the Union; the abolition of slavery; amnesty for all political offences; the payment of $400,0 0,000 five per cent. United States stock to the late slave States, to be apportioned, pro rata, according to their slave population; representation in the House on the basis of their total population; and a national convention to ratify the adjustment. Mr. Greeley believed a just peace to be attainable. He thought that even the offer of these terms, though they should be rejected, would be of immense advantage to the national cause, and might even prevent a Northern insurrection. The negotiations, it is a matter of history, utterly failed, but it would be difficult to show that they did any injury to the cause of the Union. In connection with the Richmond negotiation, which was simultaneous,

In 1859, Mr. Greeley journeyed across the plains to California. In Utah, he had his wellknown interview with Brigham Young, by which he was more decidedly not convinced of the beauties of polygamy. At Sacramento and San Francisco he had a cordial public reception.

The National Convention of the Republican party met in Chicago in May, 1860, for the purpose of nominating a candidate for the Presidency. Mr. Greeley attended the convention as a delegate for Oregon, by request of the Republicans of that State. The crisis was an important one, and the opinions of members in regard to the Presidential nomination were various. The choice of Mr. Greeley was Edward Bates, of St. Louis. "I believed," says Mr. Greeley, in his autobiography, "that he could poll votes in every slave State, and if elected, rally all that was left of the Whig party, therein to resist secession and rebellion. If not the only Republican whose election would not suffice as a pretext for civil war, he seemed to me that one most likely to repress the threatened insurrection, or, at the most, to crush it." The convention having nominated Mr. Lincoln, with Mr. Hamlin for Vice-President, Mr. Greeley cheerfully acquiesced. The election of Mr. Lincoln, followed by a secession of several of the slave States, brought on the rebellion. Mr. Greeley has left on record the

they showed that "the war must go on until the Confederacy should be recognized as an independent power, or till it should be utterly, finally overthrown," "and the knowledge of this fact," said Mr. Greeley afterwards, "was worth more than a victory to the national cause."

The final victory of the Union arms was clouded by the assassination of President Lincoln. Mr. Greeley summed up his estimate of the character of that good man by saying: "We have had chieftains who would have crushed out the rebellion in six months, and restored the Union as it was, but God gave us the one leader whose control secured not only the downfall of the rebellion, but the eternal overthrow of human slavery under the flag of the great Republic."

In 1864, Mr. Greeley was a Presidential Elector for the State of New York, and a Delegate to the Philadelphia Loyalists' Convention.

The rebellion finally crushed, and the Union restored, so far as operations in the field could restore it, Mr. Greeley's mind was at once turned to projects of real and substantial pacification. The armies of the short lived Confederacy were scattered, and its great chief was a prisoner in the hands of the Federal authorities-an unwelcome embarrassment, since the Government could much better have connived at his escape from the country. He could have been tried for treason; but his conviction was by no means certain, should he be brought to trial. Meanwhile his imprisonment was prolonged with what Mr. Greeley thought to be " aggravations of harsh and needless indignity." He could not be tried summarily by court-martial and shot; if tried by a civil court, he could not possibly be convicted, at any point where he could legally be tried. The provisions of the Federal Constitution were explicit, that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused should enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed." Mr. Greeley said frankly to the attorney for Davis, that if his name were necessary upon a bail bond, it would not be withheld. When apprised that his name was needed, he went to Richmond, and, with Mr. Gerrit Smith, the eminent Abolitionist, and others, signed the bond in due form. The act has been grossly misrepresented, and used for partisan purposes in the unfairest way. It cost Mr. Greeley fair hopes of political preferment; it almost stopped the sale of his History of the Rebellion; and when he became a candidate for the Presidency with Mr. Gerrit Smith himself among his most active opponents, the suretyship for a criminal

whom the Government never tried, and never had intended to try, was constantly and bitterly urged against him. The unfairness of this will now be acknowledged by the most eager partisan of the Administration, then it was considered a sharp and clever electioneering expedient.

In 1867, Mr. Greeley was a Delegate at Large to the New York State Convention for the revision of the Constitution, where he was prompt and efficient in the performance of his official duties.

In 1861 Mr. Greeley's friends presented his name before the Republican Legislative Caucus at Albany for U. S. Senator. There were three Republican candidates before the caucus, viz. : Mr. Greeley, Ira Harris and William M. Evarts. Mr. Greeley started out with a large support, and for several successive ballots gained largely upon his opponents, but was finally defeated in a nomination, which would have been equivalent to an election, by reason of the supporters of Mr. Evarts going over in a body to Mr. Harris, which secured his nomination, and of course his election. During that senatorial campaign Mr. Greeley was at the west delivering lectures, and thence wrote to an intimate friend at Albany saying that he had heard it intimated that some of his supporters at the State capital were inclined to "fight fire with fire." To this he entered his earnest protest, saying that, while he should feel flattered with a seat in the U. S. Senate, if it should be the unbiased wish of the Legislature to send him there, he earnestly hoped that no friend of his would do any act to secure his election the publication of which would cause such friend to blush. Six years later, in 1867, Mr. Greeley's friends were again anxious to send him to the Senate, and before the meeting of the Legislature the almost unanimous expression of the leading Republicans of the State, as well as that of the principal journals of the party, favored his election. But immediately after the close of the civil war he had declared, as the basis for reuniting the republic in the bonds of friendship and brotherhood, in favor of "universal amnesty and impartial suffrage." In this he was, as usual, in advance of his party, though they have since seen the wisdom of his suggestion, and have substantially adopted his plan of pacification. Against the judgment of his friends, but in order that he should not be elected under any possible misapprehension as to his views on the pacification of the South, he reiterated them just before the meeting of the Legislative caucus, in a strong and vigorous article in THE TRIBUNE, over his own signature. This threw him out of line for the Senatorship, as he expected it

« ZurückWeiter »