GREELEY, HORACE
Few Americans were more intimately in the public eye than Horace Greeley, and "none commanded such a mixture of admiration with affectionate amusement." By the time he founded the New York Tribune in April 1841, he was already a nationally known figure, having contributed to, founded, or edited numerous influential Whig newspapers. The Tribune set a new standard in American journalism by combining good taste, high moral standards and intellectual appeal. Through Greeley's commitment to various social aims - opposition to capital punishment and slavery, support for labor unions and restricted liquor sales - the Tribune became a great popular teacher, champion, moral leader and vehicle for social change. While Greeley was not the first to utter the phrase, "Go West, young man," it was he who popularized it, ever enthusiastic about the limitless opportunities offered by this country to the energetic and ambitious. While a fervent Unionist and abolitionist - and a strong supporter of Lincoln in 1860 - actions Greeley took during and after the war which stemmed in part from his own strongly held beliefs, and in part from his eccentricities, damaged his reputation beyond repair. When the war began, he was a leader in the call for the military defeat of the South and the abolition of slavery, going so far as to align himself with the radical republicans. By 1864, however, he was hesitant to support Lincoln for another term, urged that some peaceful accommodation be found to end the war, and even went so far as to meet - unsuccessfully - with Confederate representatives in Canada to explore possible ways of ending hostilities. The final blow to his reputation came at the war's end, with the liberal Greeley, who favored general amnesty and urged an end to sectional antagonisms, signing Jefferson Davis' bail bond in May 1867. Within a very short period, the Tribune had lost half its subscribers in protest over Greeley's actions. Nominated for president in 1872 by the Liberal Republicans and Democrats, Greeley's ticket was widely held to have been created by "a combination of political idiots and political buccaneers." It was an exceptionally abusive campaign, with Greeley himself being attacked as a traitor, a fool, an ignoramus, and a crank. While it was assumed that Greeley would lose, the magnitude of his loss did come as a surprise, with his ticket carrying only six Southern and border states. Tragically, Greeley's wife died on October 30, only days before the election, and exhausted and broken Greeley followed her less than a month later.