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Horace Greeley

Researcher: Rachel Sahlman


Horace Greeley was born February 3, 1811 on a farm near Amherst, New Hampshire. His family lived in relative poverty, although his parents were hard-working farmers. Surprisingly, Greeley developed an interest in books at an early age. He was reading by the time he was 3 years old, and when he was 4, Greeley was sent to stay with his grandfather in order to attend school. He returned to the farm when he was 8 years old, where he attended school on and off for the next two years.

In 1821, Greeley's family lost their farm and moved to a two-room cabin in West Haven, Vermont. When he was 13 years old, Greeley's teacher told his parents that he had learned everything the teacher could teach. He never returned to school. In 1826, Greeley secured a position as a printer's apprentice at the Northern Spectator in East Poultney, Vermont. At the same time, his parents moved to Pennsylvania, and Greeley was on his own.

When the Northern Spectator stopped publication in 1830, Greeley was left without a job. He traveled to Pennsylvania to stay with his family, and for a short time, he worked as a printer in Erie. However, in 1831, Greeley decided it was time to strike out on his own. He traveled to New York City, where he found a job as a journeyman printer. In addition, he wrote editorials for several New York publications. In 1832, Greeley began a partnership with a friend, Francis Story, and they opened the printing firm of Greeley & Story. In 1834, Greeley began publishing a literary magazine, which he called The New Yorker.

In 1836, Greeley married Mary Cheney, and in 1838, he began a political partnership with Thurlow Weed and New York governor William H. Seward. Greeley agreed to edit a Whig publication entitled the Jeffersonian Log Cabin. It was necessary for Greeley to work half of the week in Albany to produce the Whig publication, and the other half of the week in New York City to produce The New Yorker.

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In 1841, Greeley founded the New York Tribune, a daily newspaper, and the first issue was published on April 4. The Tribune promoted Whig philosophy. Greeley set high standards for the quality of writing, and he demanded that all the facts be accurate. The Tribune opposed slavery, promoted educational reforms, and urged elevation of the masses. Greeley was considered the outstanding newspaper editor of the day, and he edited the Tribune until his death.

Greeley had a life-long ambition to be elected to a high public office, and he felt that the Whig party was not supporting those ambitions. In 1854, Greeley broke his alliance with the Whig party and transferred his political allegiance to the newly formed Republican party. He later transferred his allegiance to the Liberal Republican party and ran for president. Greeley died on November 29, 1872 before the Electoral College met, but he received more than 40 percent of the popular vote.

Bibliographic Citation Format:

Author's last name, first name, middle initial. "Title of biography." SPECTRUM Home & School Magazine. [http://www.incwell.com/Spectrum.html] (date accessed). © K. B. Shaw

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