Information

Horace Greeley’s “The Prayer of Twenty Millions” is published


New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley publishes a passionate editorial calling on President Abraham Lincoln to declare emancipation for all enslaved people in Union-held territory. Greeley’s blistering words voiced the impatience of many Northern abolitionists; but unbeknownst to Greeley and the public, Lincoln was already moving in the direction of emancipation.

In 1841, Greeley launched the Tribune, a newspaper to promote his reform ideas. He advocated temperance, westward expansion, and the labor movement, and opposed capital punishment and land monopoly. Greeley served a brief stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he introduced legislation that eventually became the Homestead Act of 1862.

Greeley was most passionate in his opposition to slavery, and was an important organizer of the Republican Party in 1854. When the war erupted, Greeley, along with many abolitionists, argued vociferously for a war policy constructed on the eradication of slavery. President Lincoln did not outwardly share these sentiments. For the war’s first year and a half, Lincoln was reluctant to alienate the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware, which practiced slavery but had not seceded.

In his editorial, “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” Greeley focused on Lincoln’s reluctance to enforce the Confiscation Acts of 1861 and 1862. Congress had approved the appropriation of Confederate property, including enslaved people, as a war measure, but many generals were reluctant to enforce the acts, as was the Lincoln administration. Greeley argued that it was “preposterous and futile” to try to put down the rebellion without destroying slavery. The “Union cause,” he wrote, “has suffered from a mistaken deference to Rebel slavery.”

Although he did not admit it publicly at that time, Lincoln was planning to emancipate enslaved people. He did so a month later with his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

READ MORE: Slavery in America


Horace Greeley’s “The Prayer of Twenty Millions” is published - HISTORY

The Confederate newspaper Richmond Whig printed Abraham Lincoln’s famous reply to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on the front page. Greeley’s August 20, 1862 letter, known as “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” urged Lincoln to emancipate all the slaves in Union-held territory. Lincoln responded on August 22, declaring that his paramount goal was to save the Union—regardless of its effect on slavery—as well as his personal views that all men should be free.

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

This letter is regularly cited as proof that Lincoln did not intend to abolish slavery, but unknown to Greeley and most Americans, Lincoln had already drafted the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and was only waiting for a Union military victory to deliver it. Moreover, Lincoln makes a “divide and conquer” rhetorical move: he splits the issue, stating his constitutional duty as president is to keep the Union together, but simultaneously expressing his personal view of universal freedom.

The Richmond Whig is one of the less common—but still important—newspapers from the capital of the Confederacy.

In Four Years in Rebel Capitals: An Inside View of Life in the Southern Confederacy from Birth to Death, journalist T. C. DeLeon wrote that the Richmond Whig was among the South’s best wartime newspapers.

The Whig was allegedly involvement in a terror plot against New York City during the Civil War. The paper reputedly worked with the Confederate government to publish advertisements and editorials conveying secret messages to Southern sympathizers in the North. In October 1864, the Whig supposedly ran an editorial that signaled Southern supporters to set coordinated, widespread fires in New York, take over city and federal offices, and capture Major General John Adams Dix, the city’s military commander.


Almost Chosen People

Half sage and half quack, Horace Greeley, who in 1841 founded the New York Tribune, was a power to be reckoned with in the United States one hundred and fifty years ago. On August 20, 1862 he published in his paper an open letter, entitled The Prayer of Twenty Millions, to President Lincoln demanding the abolition of slavery within the Union.

To ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States

DEAR SIR: I do not intrude to tell you–for you must know already–that a great proportion of those who triumphed in you election, and of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the Rebellion now desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of the Rebels. I write only to set succinctly and unmistakably before you what we require, what we think we have a right to expect, and of what we complain.

I. We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE LAWS. Most emphatically do we demand that such laws as have been recently enacted, which therefore may fairly be presumed to embody the present will and to be dictated by the present needs of the Republic, and which, after due consideration have received your personal sanction, shall by you be carried into full effect, and that you publicly and decisively instruct your subordinates that such laws exist, that they are binding on all functionaries and citizens, and that they are to be obeyed to the letter.

II. We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss in the discharge of your official and imperative duty with regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act. Those provisions were designed to fight Slavery with Liberty. They prescribe that men loyal to the Union, and willing to shed their blood in her behalf, shall no longer be held, with the Nations consent, in bondage to persistent, malignant traitors, who for twenty years have been plotting and for sixteen months have been fighting to divide and destroy our country. Why these traitors should be treated with tenderness by you, to the prejudice of the dearest rights of loyal men, We cannot conceive.

III. We think you are unduly influenced by the counsels, the representations, the menaces, of certain fossil politicians hailing from the Border Slave States. Knowing well that the heartily, unconditionally loyal portion of the White citizens of those States do not expect nor desire chat Slavery shall be upheld to the prejudice of the Union–(for the truth of which we appeal not only to every Republican residing in those States, but to such eminent loyalists as H. Winter Davis, Parson Brownlow, the Union Central Committee of Baltimore, and to The Nashville Union)–we ask you to consider that Slavery is everywhere the inciting cause and sustaining base of treason: the most slaveholding sections of Maryland and Delaware being this day, though under the Union flag, in full sympathy with the Rebellion, while the Free-Labor portions of Tennessee and of Texas, though writhing under the bloody heel of Treason, are unconquerably loyal to the Union. So emphatically is this the case, that a most intelligent Union banker of Baltimore recently avowed his confident belief that a majority of the present Legislature of Maryland, though elected as and still professing to be Unionists, are at heart desirous of the triumph of the Jeff. Davis conspiracy and when asked how they could be won back to loyalty, replied “only by the complete Abolition of Slavery.” It seems to us the most obvious truth, that whatever strengthens or fortifies Slavery in the Border States strengthens also Treason, and drives home the wedge intended to divide the Union. Had you from the first refused to recognize in those States, as here, any other than unconditional loyalty–that which stands for the Union, whatever may become of Slavery, those States would have been, and would be, far more helpful and less troublesome to the defenders of the Union than they have been, or now are.

IV. We think timid counsels in such a crisis calculated to prove perilous, and probably disastrous. It is the duty of a Government so wantonly, wickedly assailed by Rebellion as ours has been to oppose force to force in a defiant, dauntless spirit. It cannot afford to temporize with traitors nor with semi-traitors. It must not bribe them to behave themselves, nor make cheat fair promises in the hope of disarming their causeless hostility. Representing a brave and high-spirited people, it can afford to forfeit anything else better than its own self-respect, or their admiring confidence. For our Government even to seek, after war has been made on it, to dispel the affected apprehensions of armed traitors that their cherished privileges may be assailed by it, is to invite insult and encourage hopes of its own downfall. The rush to arms of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, is the true answer at once to the Rebel raids of John Morgan and the traitorous sophistries of Beriah Magoffin.

V. We complain that the Union cause has suffered, and is now suffering immensely, from mistaken deference to Rebel Slavery. Had you, Sir, in your Inaugural Address, unmistakably given notice that, in case the Rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed force, you would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in Slavery by a traitor, we believe the Rebellion would therein have received a staggering if not fatal blow. At that moment, according to the returns of the most recent elections, the Unionists were a large majority of the voters of the Slave States. But they were composed in good part of the aged, the feeble, the wealthy, the timid–the young, the reckless, the aspiring, the adventurous, had already been largely lured by the gamblers and negro-traders, the politicians by trade and the conspirators by instinct, into the toils of Treason. Had you then proclaimed that Rebellion would strike the shackles from the slaves of every traitor, the wealthy and the cautious would have been supplied with a powerful inducement to remain loyal. As it was, every coward in the South soon became a traitor from fear for Loyalty was perilous, while Treason seemed comparatively safe. Hence the boasted unanimity of the South–a unanimity based on Rebel terrorism and the fact that immunity and safety were found on that side, danger and probable death on ours. The Rebels from the first have been eager to confiscate, imprison, scourge and kill: we have fought wolves with the devices of sheep. The result is just what might have been expected. Tens of thousands are fighting in the Rebel ranks to-day whose, original bias and natural leanings would have led them into ours.

VI. We complain that the Confiscation Act which you approved is habitually disregarded by your Generals, and that no word of rebuke for them from you has yet reached the public ear. Fremont’s Proclamation and Hunter’s Order favoring Emancipation were promptly annulled by you while Halleck’s No. 3, forbidding fugitives from Slavery to Rebels to come within his lines–an order as unmilitary as inhuman, and which received the hearty approbation of every traitor in America–with scores of like tendency, have never provoked even your own remonstrance. We complain that the officers of your Armies have habitually repelled rather than invited approach of slaves who would have gladly taken the risks of escaping from their Rebel masters to our camps, bringing intelligence often of inestimable value to the Union cause. We complain that those who have thus escaped to us, avowing a willingness to do for us whatever might be required, have been brutally and madly repulsed, and often surrendered to be scourged, maimed and tortured by the ruffian traitors, who pretend to own them. We complain that a large proportion of our regular Army Officers, with many of the Volunteers, evince far more solicitude to uphold Slavery than to put down the Rebellion. And finally, we complain that you, Mr. President, elected as a Republican, knowing well what an abomination Slavery is, and how emphatically it is the core and essence of this atrocious Rebellion, seem never to interfere with these atrocities, and never give a direction to your Military subordinates, which does not appear to have been conceived in the interest of Slavery rather than of Freedom.

VII. Let me call your attention to the recent tragedy in New Orleans, whereof the facts are obtained entirely through Pro-Slavery channels. A considerable body of resolute, able-bodied men, held in Slavery by two Rebel sugar-planters in defiance of the Confiscation Act which you have approved, left plantations thirty miles distant and made their way to the great mart of the South-West, which they knew to be the indisputed possession of the Union forces. They made their way safely and quietly through thirty miles of Rebel territory, expecting to find freedom under the protection of our flag. Whether they had or had not heard of the passage of the Confiscation Act, they reasoned logically that we could not kill them for deserting the service of their lifelong oppressors, who had through treason become our implacable enemies. They came to us for liberty and protection, for which they were willing render their best service: they met with hostility, captivity, and murder. The barking of the base curse of Slavery in this quarter deceives no one–not even themselves. They say, indeed, that the negroes had no right to appear in New Orleans armed (with their implements of daily labor in the cane-field) but no one doubts that they would gladly have laid these down if assured that they should be free. They were set upon and maimed, captured and killed, because they sought the benefit of that act of Congress which they may not specifically have heard of, but which was none the less the law of the land which they had a clear right to the benefit of–which it was somebody’s duty to publish far and wide, in order that so many as possible should be impelled to desist from serving Rebels and the Rebellion and come over to the side of the Union, They sought their liberty in strict accordance with the law of the land–they were butchered or re-enslaved for so doing by the help of Union soldiers enlisted to fight against slaveholding Treason. It was somebody’s fault that they were so murdered–if others shall hereafter stuffer in like manner, in default of explicit and public directions to your generals that they are to recognize and obey the Confiscation Act, the world will lay the blame on you. Whether you will choose to hear it through future History and ‘at the bar of God, I will not judge. I can only hope.

VIII. On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous and futile–that the Rebellion, if crushed out tomorrow, would be renewed within a year if Slavery were left in full vigor–that Army officers who remain to this day devoted to Slavery can at best be but half-way loyal to the Union–and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union, I appeal to the testimony of your Ambassadors in Europe. It is freely at your service, not at mine. Ask them to tell you candidly whether the seeming subserviency of your policy to the slaveholding, slavery-upholding interest, is not the perplexity, the despair of statesmen of all parties, and be admonished by the general answer.

IX. I close as I began with the statement that what an immense majority of the Loyal Millions of your countrymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the land, more especially of the Confiscation Act. That Act gives freedom to the slaves of Rebels coming within our lines, or whom those lines may at any time inclose–we ask you to render it due obedience by publicly requiring all your subordinates to recognize and obey it. The rebels are everywhere using the late anti-negro riots in the North, as they have long used your officers’ treatment of negroes in the South, to convince the slaves that they have nothing to hope from a Union success-that we mean in that case to sell them into a bitter bondage to defray the cost of war. Let them impress this as a truth on the great mass of their ignorant and credulous bondsmen, and the Union will never be restored-never. We cannot conquer Ten Millions of People united in solid phalanx against us, powerfully aided by the Northern sympathizers and European allies. We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the Blacks of the South, whether we allow them to fight for us or not, or we shall be baffled and repelled. As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that Principle and Honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is dispensable not only to the existence of our country to the well being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.

Yours, Horace Greeley New York, August 19, 1862

Lincoln responded immediately and succinctly:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, August 22, 1862.

DEAR SIR: I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not, now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right. As to the policy I ’seem to be pursuing,’ as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be ’the Union as it was.’ If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union: and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty and I intend no modification of my oft expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Basically Lincoln tells Greeley to buzz off. At the time of the letter Lincoln had the Emancipation Proclamation waiting in his desk for publication, the date of publication to be after a major Union victory. However, Lincoln was not going to be rushed by Greeley, who Lincoln seems to have viewed as largely an annoying flake. (Lincoln was right on that score. Just before the beginning of the War Greeley had been in favor of letting the Confederate states secede in peace. His views changed frequently on numerous topics over the years.) Lincoln did use his reply to start a defense of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln knew that making the War for the Union into a War for the Union and to end slavery would be controversial in the North, so he took pains in his reply to emphasize that if he freed the slaves it was being done to preserve the Union. Note that Lincoln states that he will adopt new views as soon as they seem to be true views. A keen observer would have taken the hint that a shift on emancipation was in the wind. As usual when he put pen to paper, Lincoln had a mastery of words and argument that ever served him well.


Horace Greeley

&ldquoMy paramount object in this struggle,&rdquo Abraham Lincoln once said, &ldquois to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.&rdquo Lincoln&rsquos comment remains one of the more famous and revealing quotes about his attitudes towards slavery during the Civil War. The quote was in response to an open letter published in the August 20, 1862 issue of the New York Tribune. The author of the letter, called &ldquoThe Prayer of Twenty Millions&rdquo &ndash and the editor of the newspaper &ndash was Horace Greeley, one of the most important public figures of the Civil War era. [1]

Horace Greeley was born in New Hampshire and raised in rural New England. Having served a newspaper apprenticeship in Vermont, Greeley went to New York City where he would spend the rest of his editorial career. In 1834, Greeley began publishing The New Yorker, a newspaper that revealed his strong connection to the ideals and policies of the Whig Party. During the election of 1840, Greeley published two short Whig partisan newspapers. In 1841, he founded the New York Tribune, which would become one of the nation&rsquos leading newspapers. During the 1850s, Greely became a major figure in the formation of the Republican Party. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1872 on the Liberal Republican ticket and died shortly thereafter.

Greeley had a well-deserved reputation as a reformer. He later recalled that in &ldquomodern society, all things tend unconsciously toward grand, comprehensive, pervading reforms&rdquo. First, Greeley was an advocate of temperance, the movement to abolish the use of alcohol. Perhaps because of his father&rsquos drinking, Greeley made an open pledge of his temperance when he was thirteen years old. He helped found the first temperance club in East Poultney, Vermont and supported the efforts of the Maine Law which prohibited the manufacturing and sale of intoxicating beverages. Second, Greeley was one of the leading Associationists in nineteenth-century America, a group of people who attempted to build a new social and economic order based upon the teachings of Charles Fourier. According to Greeley, Fourierism was &ldquothe most natural thing in the world for a properly civilized and Christianized society &ndash the very best to which all the Progress of the last century has tended by a natural law.&rdquo Throughout the 1840s, Greeley used the columns of the Tribune to spread the Associationist Gospel. He became president of the American Union of Associationists, and was personally involved in Fourierite communities in Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey. Third, Greeley supported the movement for land reform aimed at increasing opportunities for individual proprietorships. He argued that the principles of the National Reform Association (founded by New York radical George Henry Evans in 1844) were &ldquothe best that can be devised&rdquo. Greeley delivered a speech before the New York Young Men&rsquos National Reform Association and attended another convention of land reformers in 1845. [2]

Although he was not an abolitionist, Greeley moved steadily towards a free soil, antislavery position. As a Whig, Greeley naturally opposed the program of &ldquoManifest Destiny&rdquo undertaken by the Young American elements in the Democratic Party. By the mid-1840s, he was a firm opponent of the expansion of slavery though he did not move into the Liberty Party. He remained a committed Whig, working to move his party in a free soil direction. He opposed the expansionist efforts of the Democratic Administration of James Knox Polk. Greeley supported the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, which called for the prohibition of slavery in any territory acquired during the war with Mexico. In January 1848, Greeley believed fully that &ldquoHuman slavery is at deadly feud with the common law, the common sense, and the conscience of mankind.&rdquo [3]

As a committed free soiler in the 1840s, Horace Greeley moved easily into the Republican Party. In fact, he played an increasingly visible role as the party formed on a local and national level in the mid-1850s. The initial spark that ignited the Republican Party was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Antislavery Northerners were indignant that this measure of Illinois Democrat Stephen Arnold Douglas, which permitted popular sovereignty for the new territories, overturned the Missouri Compromise. Greeley considered the Kansas-Nebraska Act &ldquoa desperate struggle of Freedom against Slavery&rdquo . Greeley even suggested the name for the new party as it formed in places like Wisconsin and Michigan. In his native New York, he supported fusion efforts of antislavery Whigs, free soil Democrats, Liberty party and prohibitionists. Yet he resisted Republican efforts to entice anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know-Nothings into the party. On the national level, Greeley attended the meeting of Republicans in 1856 in Pittsburgh. The New York Tribune became one of the most influential Republican voices in the nation. With the Whig Party defunct, Greeley threw his editorial support to Republican John Charles Frémont in the election of 1856. [4]

His position as editor of the New York Tribune and as one of the leading Republicans in the most populous state in the North meant that Horace Greeley would play a leading role in the politics of the Civil War. During the secession crisis, Greeley and the Tribune became associated with a view called &ldquopeaceable secession,&rdquo the idea that the North should allow the disunionist South to depart in peace. On December 17, 1860, Greeley editorialized: &ldquoFor our own part, while we deny the right of slaveholders to hold slaves against the will of the latter, we cannot see how twenty millions of people can rightfully hold ten, or even five, in a detested union with them, by military force.&rdquo After some vacillation, Greeley joined other Republicans by late winter in denouncing the secession of the Lower South states. He urged Lincoln not to compromise on the critical issue of the non-expansion of slavery, the central plank in the Republican platform. [5]

During the war years, Lincoln joined those Radical Republicans who urged a more vigorous prosecution of the war and believed that the war&rsquos aims should include emancipation and the final destruction of slavery. As a Radical, Greeley&rsquos relationship with Lincoln was ambivalent. At times, he was critical of Lincoln, arguing that his political and military leadership was mediocre. What set Greeley and the Radicals apart in the early years of the Civil War was their view on emancipation. At a lecture held at the Smithsonian Institution in 1862 with a clearly discomforted Lincoln in attendance, Greeley called for an end to slavery. In 1863, he appeared at an antislavery meeting at Cooper Union in New York with famed abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. When Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, Greeley was overjoyed. &ldquoIt is the beginning of the end of the Rebellion,&rdquo the Tribune editorialized, &ldquothe beginning of the new life of the nation. GOD BLESS ABRAHAM LINCOLN!&rdquo Not surprisingly, Greeley was critical of those New Yorkers involved in the violent and racist draft riots of July 1863. [6]

Greeley is also important to Civil War history for his involvement with peace efforts. He was one of the leading participants in the Niagara Peace Conference of 1864. Learning that Confederate diplomats interested in peace negotiations were in Canada, Greeley referred the matter to Lincoln who then sent the editor to Niagara Falls to meet with these Confederates upon the conditions of a restoration of the Union and the abolition of slavery. These negotiations proved abortive, though Greeley until the end of the war continued to demonstrate an interest in a negotiated peace.

During the period of presidential reconstruction (1865-1867), Horace Greeley remained a Radical Republican. He insisted that freedom and equal rights for African-Americans had to be the cornerstone of any Reconstruction effort. He parted ways with President Johnson after Johnson vetoed the Freedman&rsquos Bureau Bill and a civil rights bill. He supported Johnson&rsquos impeachment and continued to urge black suffrage. At the same time, Greeley was behind efforts to pardon Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

For all his efforts on behalf of Radical Reconstruction, Greeley remained a classical liberal in his reluctance to use the power of the state to ensure equal rights for African-Americans. He was uneasy with proposed plans to confiscate land in the south for freed African-Americans. He was alienated by the radical tenor of labor activism after the Civil War. Greeley was in fact adverse to any class view of the labor situation and persisted in his belief in class harmony and free labor mobility. Characteristically, Greeley placed his faith for labor in cooperative movements. His own retreat from radicalism was embodied in his involvement with the Liberal Republican movement. This was a splinter movement of the Republican Party that supported universal amnesty, tariff reform, civil service reform, and opposition to the Grant Administration. At their national convention held in Cincinnati in May 1872, Horace Greeley was nominated for president. Lacking a viable candidate with national appeal, the Democratic Party also endorsed Greeley for president in 1872. This made the Tribune editor the first person to be nominated for president by two different parties.

Greeley was soundly beaten by Grant in the fall elections. Grant won by a popular majority of over 760,000, a 56% margin that was the greatest of any presidential candidate between 1828 and 1904. Defeated and embittered politically, suffering from the recent loss of his wife Molly, and ill himself, Horace Greeley died on November 29, 1872.

  • [1] New York Tribune, August 23, 1862.
  • [2] Mitchell Snay, Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), 65 Ibid., 68 Ibid., 74.
  • [3] Ibid., 90.
  • [4] Ibid., 115 Founded in 1847 the Free Soil Party was active in the elections of 1848 and 1852. Its slogan was “free soil, free speech, free labor and free men” and it’s purpose was to oppose the expansion of slavery in the western territories arguing that free men on free soil was a system superior to slavery. The party was absorbed by the Republicans in 1854 The Know-Nothing movement was active from 1854-1856 striving to curb Irish Catholic immigration and naturalization for fears the republican values of the country would be overwhelmed by Catholic immigrants. The movement experienced little success and by 1860 was no longer a force in American politics. Its name comes from the response members were to give if asked about the movement “I know nothing.”
  • [5] New York Tribune, December 17, 1860.
  • [6] Snay, Horace Greeley, 142

If you can read only one book:

Snay, Mitchell. Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).


Life at the Base

Because of its remote location, upon the installation of the base, there was a need to create housing at or near the base. The layout of the radar station includes a radio site, an operations area, a cantonment area, and three different housing areas. Included in the housing and cantonment, the base offered about 45 family homes, dorms, a dining hall, a fitness center (with a bowling alley), a medic, and a youth center. The facility’s location created many problems with maintaining supplies, especially in the winter months. The enormous amounts of snow that accumulate around Mount Horace Greeley added to the struggles of transporting goods from local businesses, forcing the base rely on non perishables heavily.

Peg Gillis Briskey, a civilian working in the station’s commissary (grocery store), explains the location’s effect on general operations at the base,

“We depended on KI Sawyer AFB for non perishable items, and the local businesses for bread, milk etc. My grandmother lived in Houghton, and I was familiar with the Keweenaw when I started working there, but had never spent a winter. It was an eye opener, but I still love the area. I can remember the hill going up to the base too icy to climb, and sliding backwards to the access road. There was no air strip, to land a plane, but we did have a helicopter landing area” (2005).

Another individual, under the screen name of PsmitSC, recalls his time at the base while stationed there in the early 1950s,

“First winter we had over 254 inches of snow. I too recall the hill from the access road up to the base and getting our humongous snowblower stuck in the ditch one day. There was no housing for married personnel at that time so many of us lived in the Houghton area which made an interesting drive in the winter,” (2005).

The treacherous snow conditions, however, did not see an end to the base’s operation, as it continued to function for over thirty years into the 1980s


Действия

Matt Berti moved Primary Source: Horace Greely vs. Abraham Lincoln lower Matt Berti changed description of Primary Source: Horace Greely vs. Abraham Lincoln Matt Berti added Primary Source: Horace Greely vs. Abraham Lincoln to (5) 1844-1877 Civil War & Reconstruction

Part 2: The 1800s

The Role of the Press in a Young Country

Key Takeaways from This Section:

  • Media bias in newspapers emerged as the two-party political system grew popular and presidential candidates campaigned for the first time
  • Newspapers helped forge a sense of national identity by treating readers as a part of one large community
  • Political cartoons and partisan rhetoric taught Americans to view themselves as either a Democrat or a Whig

The turn of the century in the newly created United States brought with it the tumultuous election of 1800, arguably one of the most controversial elections in American history. It resulted in a constitutional amendment, was the first time presidential candidates campaigned for president, and featured media bias as an emerging force in American politics.

Though candidates did not give speeches or engage in debates, many of the campaigns running up to the 1800 election resembled modern campaigns. The media was used to make attacks on political opponents’ character and personal life, and each candidate was often portrayed as a caricature of themselves. Federalists insisted Jefferson was a coward who fled to France during the Revolutionary War, and that the ideas he picked up there were too radical Aaron Burr was often portrayed as a power-hungry man without principle.

After Jefferson’s victory was decided in the House following an Electoral College tie between two running mates on the same ticket, the 12th Amendment was added to the Constitution. It allowed vice presidents and presidents to run on the same ticket. This changed the scope of American elections, but the highly partisan news coverage of the election — and Americans’ reliance on partisan sources during that time — established a legacy of its own.

In the decades following, the Industrial Revolution and advances in printing technology made newspapers much more widespread. Newspapers helped a rapidly growing country forge a sense of national identity by treating readers as part of one large community — a concept media theorist Benedict Anderson called print capitalism. However, as newspapers helped to keep the young nation on the same page, the political landscape split again in the 1820s as certain states began to favor the two-party system.

The bipartisan system became widespread in the late 1820s during Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign, and has dominated American politics ever since. At this point, the press was largely used to promote political parties — the Democrats and the Whigs. Newspapers, along with other media such as pamphlets, political cartoons and paintings, taught Americans to forge a sense of their political identity by teaching them to think of themselves as either a Democrat or a Whig.

Creating the Opinion Section

Key Takeaways from This Section:

  • Horace Greeley developed the editorial page, where he and the staff could voice their views regardless of fact and bias
  • Journalists during this time often wrote to shape the view of voters, rather than to simply report the facts

Partisan U.S. media expanded in the 1800s, but so did acknowledgements that more credible sources were needed. Horace Greeley, who helped found the Republican party in the 1850s, founded the New York Tribune in 1841 in an effort to provide readers with a reliable news source.

Greeley also conceptualized the editorial page, which created a clear and important distinction between news and opinion. Greeley and the Tribune staff made frequent use of the editorial page to voice their own opinions and political views, and had much sway over public opinion. Later on in 1921, Herbert Bayard Swope of the New York Evening World would develop the op-ed page, or the opposite editorial page, where he, as he said, “decided to print opinions, ignoring facts.”

The modern op-ed page, where people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints can submit opinion articles, was developed in 1970 by the New York Times. While the goal of the modern op-ed page is to democratize discourse, Greeley’s editorial page was likely developed with the goal of influencing public opinion. Historian Willian Chilton wrote that the progressive movement during this time promoted the idea that the media’s purpose was to shape the beliefs of voters, since the public was too irrational to make the right choice based singularly on fact.

“The presentation of facts simply as facts, editors and writers reasoned, cannot accomplish the exalted goal of saving civilization,” Chilton wrote. “To do that, facts needed to be presented according to those rhetorical patterns of thought we call opinions, patterns pointed in some particular direction of convincing an imagined jury.”

This can be seen in Greeley’s outspoken support of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign, and his support for the abolition of slavery during the Civil War. In 1862, he published an editorial titled “The Prayer of Twenty Millions” that called for the emancipation of enslaved people. Lincoln wrote a response to Greeley in the New York Times, which contained an often-quoted passage: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

A Populist, Sensationalist Media is Born

Key Takeaways from This Section:

  • The demand for sensationalized stories in “penny papers” led to wars between competing outlets, which became known as “yellow journalism”
  • Penny papers encouraged a free press and engaged citizens

The late 1800s saw the rise of “penny papers,” low-cost daily newspapers whose oft-sensational coverage favored murder, scandal and other human interest subjects over politics. Joseph Pulitzer purchased the New York World in 1883 and used emotive headlines to advocate against government corruption and injustice. By the mid-1890s, the World had the largest circulation in the country.

William Randolph Hearst, who had already built the San Francisco Examiner into an influential West Coast paper, purchased the rival New York Journal in 1895. Hearst drummed up major competition with the World, using even more outrageous headlines and features. He also hired some staff away from Pulitzer, including cartoonist Richard F. Outcault, who had drawn an immensely popular comic picture series, The Yellow Kid, for the World. George B. Luks took over the drawings of the cartoon for the World, and the two feuding papers drew so much attention that the competition came to be described as “yellow journalism.”

The rivalry and its subsequent widespread circulation developed large followings for both papers, and many headlines in outlets across America became increasingly sensationalized in an effort to mirror the success of the two papers. The World began a gradual decline after the turn of the century, but similar banner headlines and attention-grabbing ledes remain a staple of American journalism today.

There were positive and negative consequences of the penny press. Journalist Andrew Belonsky of the Daily Beast argues that the affordability and availability of penny papers “made the free press a true friend of the people.”

“By disconnecting newspapers from larger political and economic apparatus, [penny papers] made the news of and for the people,” writes Belonsky. “By treating the public as though their lives were just as worthy as bold-faced names, penny presses showed the public that they mattered. They invited previously disregarded masses into the fold, expanded civil society, and made America more authentically American. Quite simply, they rebalanced the power.”

Before advances in printing technology made penny papers possible, news content served the interest of the publishers, who were often looking to advance their own political interests. The penny presses allowed publications to gain a wide circulation and generate revenue through advertising, so they no longer had to rely solely on patrons with political agendas. However, this gave newspaper audiences, instead of patrons, a newfound influence over the content of the newspapers based on what sold and what didn’t.

Some argue that the driving force behind sensationalism and political polarization in contemporary media lies “not in underlying political opinions but in costs, specifically the falling costs of new entrants.” In 2005, Richard Posner wrote for the New York Times that “The more news sources there are, the more intense the struggle for an audience. One tactic is to occupy an overlooked niche -- peeling away from the broad-based media, a segment of the consuming public whose interests were not catered to previously. That is the tactic that produces polarization.”

In the 1800s, the news industry helped Americans forge a sense of identity, and became a reliable and accessible source of news for a young country. However, early partisan splits laid the foundations for media bias, which would develop later on in the 1900s when radio and television became the dominant medium for news. More on that in Part 3!

This piece was reviewed and edited by Henry A. Brechter (Center bias), Julie Mastrine (Lean Right bias) and Joseph Ratliff (Lean Left bias).


Contents

Horace Greeley was born on February 3, 1811, on a farm about five miles from Amherst, New Hampshire. He could not breathe for the first twenty minutes of his life. It is suggested that this deprivation may have caused him to develop Asperger's syndrome—some of his biographers, such as Mitchell Snay, maintain that this condition would account for his eccentric behaviors in later life. [1] His father's family was of English descent, and his forebears included early settlers of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, [2] while his mother's family descended from Scots-Irish immigrants from the village of Garvagh in County Londonderry who had settled Londonderry, New Hampshire. Some of Greeley's maternal ancestors were present at the siege of Derry during the Williamite War in Ireland in 1689. [3]

Greeley was the son of poor farmers Zaccheus and Mary (Woodburn) Greeley. Zaccheus was not successful, and moved his family several times, as far west as Pennsylvania. Horace attended the local schools and was a brilliant student. [4]

Seeing the boy's intelligence, some neighbors offered to pay Horace's way at Phillips Exeter Academy, but the Greeleys were too proud to accept charity. In 1820, Zaccheus's financial reverses caused him to flee New Hampshire with his family lest he be imprisoned for debt, and settle in Vermont. Even as his father struggled to make a living as a hired hand, Horace Greeley read everything he could—the Greeleys had a neighbor who let Horace use his library. In 1822, Horace ran away from home to become a printer's apprentice, but was told he was too young. [5]

In 1826, at age 15, he was made a printer's apprentice to Amos Bliss, editor of the Northern Spectator, a newspaper in East Poultney, Vermont. There, he learned the mechanics of a printer's job, and acquired a reputation as the town encyclopedia, reading his way through the local library. [6] When the paper closed in 1830, the young man went west to join his family, living near Erie, Pennsylvania. He remained there only briefly, going from town to town seeking newspaper employment, and was hired by the Erie Gazette. Although ambitious for greater things, he remained until 1831 to help support his father. While there, he became a Universalist, breaking from his Congregationalist upbringing. [7]

In late 1831, Greeley went to New York City to seek his fortune. There were many young printers in New York who had likewise come to the metropolis, and he could only find short-term work. [8] In 1832, Greeley worked as an employee of the publication Spirit of the Times. [9] He built his resources and set up a print shop in that year. In 1833, he tried his hand with Horatio D. Sheppard at editing a daily newspaper, the New York Morning Post, which was not a success. Despite this failure and its attendant financial loss, Greeley published the thrice-weekly Constitutionalist, which mostly printed lottery results. [10]

On March 22, 1834, he published the first issue of The New-Yorker in partnership with Jonas Winchester. [9] It was less expensive than other literary magazines of the time and published both contemporary ditties and political commentary. Circulation reached 9,000, then a sizable number, yet it was ill-managed and eventually fell victim to the economic Panic of 1837. [11] He also published the campaign newssheet of the new Whig Party in New York for the 1834 campaign, and came to believe in its positions, including free markets with government assistance in developing the nation. [12]

Soon after his move to New York City, Greeley met Mary Young Cheney. Both were living at a boarding house run on the diet principles of Sylvester Graham, eschewing meat, alcohol, coffee, tea, and spices, as well as abstaining from the use of tobacco. Greeley was subscribing to Graham's principles at the time, and to the end of his life rarely ate meat. Mary Cheney, a schoolteacher, moved to North Carolina to take a teaching job in 1835. They were married in Warrenton, North Carolina on July 5, 1836, and an announcement duly appeared in The New-Yorker eleven days later. Greeley had stopped over in Washington, D.C. on his way south to observe Congress. He took no honeymoon with his new wife, returning to work while his wife took up a teaching job in New York City. [13]

One of the positions taken by The New-Yorker was that the unemployed of the cities should seek lives in the developing American West (in the 1830s, the West encompassed today's Midwestern states). The harsh winter of 1836–1837 and the financial crisis that developed soon after made many New Yorkers homeless and destitute. In his journal, Greeley urged new immigrants to buy guide books on the West, and Congress to make public lands available for purchase at cheap rates to settlers. He told his readers, "Fly, scatter through the country, go to the Great West, anything rather than remain here . the West is the true destination." [14] In 1838, he advised "any young man" about to start in the world, "Go to the West: there your capabilities are sure to be appreciated and your energy and industry rewarded." [a] [15]

In 1838, Greeley met Albany editor Thurlow Weed. Weed spoke for a liberal faction of the Whigs in his newspaper the Albany Evening Journal. He hired Greeley as editor of the state Whig newspaper for the upcoming campaign. The newspaper, the Jeffersonian, premiered in February 1838 and helped elect the Whig candidate for governor, William H. Seward. [11] In 1839, Greeley worked for several journals, and took a month-long break to go as far west as Detroit. [16]

Greeley was deeply involved in the campaign of the Whig candidate for president in 1840, William Henry Harrison. He published the major Whig periodical the Log Cabin, and also wrote many of the pro-Harrison songs that marked the campaign. These songs were sung at mass meetings, many organized and led by Greeley. According to biographer Robert C. Williams, "Greeley's lyrics swept the country and roused Whig voters to action." [17] Funds raised by Weed helped distribute the Log Cabin widely. Harrison and his running mate John Tyler were easily elected. [18]

Early years (1841–1848) Edit

By the end of the 1840 campaign, the Log Cabin's circulation had risen to 80,000 and Greeley decided to establish a daily newspaper, the New-York Tribune. [19] At the time, New York had many newspapers, dominated by James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald, which with a circulation of about 55,000 had more readers than its combined competition. As technology advanced, it became cheaper and easier to publish a newspaper, and the daily press came to dominate the weekly, which had once been the more common format for news periodicals. Greeley borrowed money from friends to get started, and published the first issue of the Tribune on April 10, 1841 — the day of a memorial parade in New York for President Harrison, who had died after a month in office and been replaced by Vice President Tyler. [20]

In the first issue, Greeley promised that his newspaper would be a "new morning Journal of Politics, Literature, and General Intelligence". [20] New Yorkers were not initially receptive the first week's receipts were $92 and expenses $525. [20] The paper was sold for a cent a copy by newsboys who purchased bundles of papers at a discount. The price of advertising was initially four cents a line but was quickly raised to six cents. Through the 1840s, the Tribune was four pages, that is, a single sheet folded. It initially had 600 subscribers and 5,000 copies were sold of the first issue. [21]

In the early days, Greeley's chief assistant was Henry J. Raymond, who a decade later founded The New York Times. To place the Tribune on a sound financial footing, Greeley sold a half-interest in it to attorney Thomas McElrath (1807–1888), who became publisher of the Tribune (Greeley was editor) and ran the business side. Politically, the Tribune backed Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, who had unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination that fell to Harrison, and supported Clay's American System for development of the country. Greeley was one of the first newspaper editors to have a full-time correspondent in Washington, an innovation quickly followed by his rivals. [20] Part of Greeley's strategy was to make the Tribune a newspaper of national scope, not merely local. [22] One factor in establishing the paper nationally was the Weekly Tribune, created in September 1841 when the Log Cabin and The New-Yorker were merged. With an initial subscription price of $2 a year, [23] this was sent to many across the United States by mail and was especially popular in the Midwest. [24] In December 1841, Greeley was offered the editorship of the national Whig newspaper, the Madisonian. He demanded full control, and declined when not given it. [25]

Greeley, in his paper, initially supported the Whig program. [26] As divisions between Clay and President Tyler became apparent, he supported the Kentucky senator and looked to a Clay nomination for president in 1844. [25] However, when Clay was nominated by the Whigs, he was defeated by the Democrat, former Tennessee governor James K. Polk, though Greeley worked hard on Clay's behalf. [27] Greeley had taken positions in opposition to slavery as editor of The New-Yorker in the late 1830s, opposing the annexation of the slaveholding Republic of Texas to the United States. [28] In the 1840s, Greeley became an increasingly vocal opponent of the expansion of slavery. [26]

Greeley hired Margaret Fuller in 1844 as first literary editor of the Tribune, for which she wrote over 200 articles. She lived with the Greeley family for several years, and when she moved to Italy, he made her a foreign correspondent. [29] He promoted the work of Henry David Thoreau, serving as literary agent and seeing to it that Thoreau's work was published. [30] Ralph Waldo Emerson also benefited from Greeley's promotion. [31] Historian Allan Nevins explained:

The Tribune set a new standard in American journalism by its combination of energy in newsgathering with good taste, high moral standards, and intellectual appeal. Police reports, scandals, dubious medical advertisements, and flippant personalities were barred from its pages the editorials were vigorous but usually temperate the political news was the most exact in the city book reviews and book-extracts were numerous and as an inveterate lecturer Greeley gave generous space to lectures. The paper appealed to substantial and thoughtful people. [32]

Greeley, who had met his wife at a Graham boarding house, became enthusiastic about other social movements that did not last and promoted them in his paper. He subscribed to the views of Charles Fourier, a French social thinker, then recently deceased, who proposed the establishment of settlements called "phalanxes" with a given number of people from various walks of life, who would function as a corporation and among whose members profits would be shared. Greeley, in addition to promoting Fourierism in the Tribune, was associated with two such settlements, both of which eventually failed, though the town that eventually developed on the site of the one in Pennsylvania was after his death renamed Greeley. [33]

Congressman (1848–1849) Edit

In November 1848, Congressman David S. Jackson, a Democrat, of New York's 6th district was unseated for election fraud. Jackson's term was to expire in March 1849 but, during the 19th century, Congress convened annually in December, making it important to fill the seat. Under the laws then in force, the Whig committee from the Sixth District chose Greeley to run in the special election for the remainder of the term, though they did not select him as their candidate for the seat in the following Congress. The Sixth District, or Sixth Ward as it was commonly called, was mostly Irish-American, and Greeley proclaimed his support for Irish efforts towards independence from the United Kingdom. He easily won the November election and took his seat when Congress convened in December 1848. [34] Greeley's selection was procured by the influence of his ally, Thurlow Weed. [35]

As a congressman for three months, Greeley introduced legislation for a homestead act that would allow settlers who improved land to purchase it at low rates—a fourth of what speculators would pay. He was quickly noticed because he launched a series of attacks on legislative privileges, taking note of which congressmen were missing votes, and questioning the office of House Chaplain. This was enough to make him unpopular. But he outraged his colleagues when on December 22, 1848, the Tribune published evidence that many congressmen had been paid excessive sums as travel allowance. In January 1849, Greeley supported a bill that would have corrected the issue, but it was defeated. He was so disliked, he wrote a friend, that he had "divided the House into two parties—one that would like to see me extinguished and the other that wouldn't be satisfied without a hand in doing it." [36]

Other legislation introduced by Greeley, all of which failed, included attempts to end flogging in the Navy and to ban alcohol from its ships. He tried to change the name of the United States to "Columbia", abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and increase tariffs. [35] One lasting effect of the term of Congressman Greeley was his friendship with a fellow Whig, serving his only term in the House, Illinois's Abraham Lincoln. Greeley's term ended after March 3, 1849, and he returned to New York and the Tribune, having, according to Williams, "failed to achieve much except notoriety". [37]

Influence (1849–1860) Edit

By the end of the 1840s, Greeley's Tribune was not only solidly established in New York as a daily paper, it was highly influential nationally through its weekly edition, which circulated in rural areas and small towns. Journalist Bayard Taylor deemed its influence in the Midwest second only to that of the Bible. According to Williams, the Tribune could mold public opinion through Greeley's editorials more effectively than could the president. Greeley sharpened those skills over time, laying down what future Secretary of State John Hay, who worked for the Tribune in the 1870s, deemed the "Gospel according to St. Horace". [38]

The Tribune remained a Whig paper, but Greeley took an independent course. In 1848, he had been slow to endorse the Whig presidential nominee, General Zachary Taylor, a Louisianan and hero of the Mexican–American War. Greeley opposed both the war and the expansion of slavery into the new territories seized from Mexico and feared Taylor would support expansion as president. Greeley considered endorsing former President Martin Van Buren, candidate of the Free Soil Party, but finally endorsed Taylor, who was elected the editor was rewarded for his loyalty with the congressional term. [39] Greeley vacillated on support for the Compromise of 1850, which gave victories to both sides of the slavery issue, before finally opposing it. In the 1852 presidential campaign, he supported the Whig candidate, General Winfield Scott, but savaged the Whig platform for its support of the Compromise. "We defy it, execrate it, spit upon it." [40] Such party divisions contributed to Scott's defeat by former New Hampshire senator Franklin Pierce. [41]

In 1853, with the party increasingly divided over the slavery issue, Greeley printed an editorial disclaiming the paper's identity as Whig and declaring it to be nonpartisan. He was confident that the paper would not suffer financially, trusting in reader loyalty. Some in the party were not sorry to see him go: the Republic, a Whig organ, mocked Greeley and his beliefs: "If a party is to be built up and maintained on Fourierism, Mesmerism, Maine Liquor laws, Spiritual Rappings, Kossuthism, Socialism, Abolitionism, and forty other isms, we have no disposition to mix with any such companions." [42] When, in 1854, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas introduced his Kansas–Nebraska Bill, allowing residents of each territory to decide whether it would be slave or free, Greeley strongly fought the legislation in his newspaper. After it passed, and the Border War broke out in Kansas Territory, Greeley was part of efforts to send free-state settlers there, and to arm them. [43] In return, proponents of slavery recognized Greeley and the Tribune as adversaries, stopping shipments of the paper to the South and harassing local agents. [44] Nevertheless, by 1858, the Tribune reached 300,000 subscribers through the weekly edition, and it would continue as the foremost American newspaper through the years of the Civil War. [45]

The Kansas–Nebraska Act helped destroy the Whig Party, but a new party with opposition to the spread of slavery at its heart had been under discussion for some years. Beginning in 1853, Greeley participated in the discussions that led to the founding of the Republican Party and may have coined its name. [46] Greeley attended the first New York state Republican Convention in 1854 and was disappointed not to be nominated either for governor or lieutenant governor. The switch in parties coincided with the end of two of his longtime political alliances: in December 1854, Greeley wrote that the political partnership between Weed, William Seward (who was by then senator after serving as governor) and himself was ended "by the withdrawal of the junior partner". [47] Greeley was angered over patronage disputes and felt that Seward was courting the rival The New York Times for support. [48]

In 1853, Greeley purchased a farm in rural Chappaqua, New York, where he experimented with farming techniques. [49] In 1856, he designed and built Rehoboth, one of the first concrete structures in the United States. [50] In 1856, Greeley published a campaign biography by an anonymous author for the first Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont. [51]

The Tribune continued to print a wide variety of material. In 1851, its managing editor, Charles Dana, recruited Karl Marx as a foreign correspondent in London. Marx collaborated with Friedrich Engels on his work for the Tribune, which continued for over a decade, covering 500 articles. Greeley felt compelled to print, "Mr. Marx has very decided opinions of his own, with some of which we are far from agreeing, but those who do not read his letters are neglecting one of the most instructive sources of information on the great questions of current European politics." [52]

Greeley sponsored a host of reforms, including pacifism and feminism and especially the ideal of the hard-working free laborer. Greeley demanded reforms to make all citizens free and equal. He envisioned virtuous citizens who would eradicate corruption. He talked endlessly about progress, improvement, and freedom, while calling for harmony between labor and capital. [53] Greeley's editorials promoted social democratic reforms and were widely reprinted. They influenced the free-labor ideology of the Whigs and the radical wing of the Republican Party, especially in promoting the free-labor ideology. Before 1848 he sponsored an American version of Fourierist socialist reform. but backed away after the failed revolutions of 1848 in Europe. [54] To promote multiple reforms Greeley hired a roster of writers who later became famous in their own right, including Margaret Fuller, [55] Charles Anderson Dana, George William Curtis, William Henry Fry, Bayard Taylor, Julius Chambers and Henry Jarvis Raymond, who later co-founded The New York Times. [56] For many years George Ripley was the staff literary critic. [57] Jane Swisshelm was one of the first women hired by a major newspaper. [58]

In 1859, Greeley traveled across the continent to see the West for himself, to write about it for the Tribune, and to publicize the need for a transcontinental railroad. [59] He also planned to give speeches to promote the Republican Party. [60] In May 1859, he went to Chicago, and then to Lawrence in Kansas Territory, and was unimpressed by the local people. Nevertheless, after speaking before the first ever Kansas Republican Party Convention at Osawatomie, Kansas, Greeley took one of the first stagecoaches to Denver, seeing the town then in course of formation as a mining camp of the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. [59] Sending dispatches back to the Tribune, Greeley took the Overland Trail, reaching Salt Lake City, where he conducted a two-hour interview with the Mormon leader Brigham Young – the first newspaper interview Young had given. Greeley encountered Native Americans and was sympathetic but, like many of his time, deemed Indian culture inferior. In California, he toured widely and gave many addresses. [61]

1860 presidential election Edit

Although he remained on cordial terms with Senator Seward, Greeley never seriously considered supporting him in his bid for the Republican nomination for president. Instead, during the run-up to the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, he pressed the candidacy of former Missouri representative Edward Bates, an opponent of the spread of slavery who had freed his own slaves. In his newspaper, in speeches, and in conversation, Greeley pushed Bates as a man who could win the North and even make inroads in the South. Nevertheless, when one of the dark horse candidates for the Republican nomination, Abraham Lincoln, came to New York to give an address at Cooper Union, Greeley urged his readers to go hear Lincoln, and was among those who accompanied him to the platform. Greeley thought of Lincoln as a possible nominee for vice president. [62]

Greeley attended the convention as a substitute for a delegate from Oregon who was unable to attend. In Chicago, he promoted Bates but deemed his cause hopeless and felt that Seward would be nominated. In conversations with other delegates, he predicted that, if nominated, Seward could not carry crucial battleground states such as Pennsylvania. [63] Greeley's estrangement from Seward was not widely known, giving the editor more credibility. [64] Greeley (and Seward) biographer Glyndon G. Van Deusen noted that it is uncertain how great a part Greeley played in Seward's defeat by Lincoln—he had little success gaining delegates for Bates. On the first two ballots, Seward led Lincoln, but on the second only by a small margin. After the third ballot, on which Lincoln was nominated, Greeley was seen among the Oregon delegation, a broad smile on his face. [65] According to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, "it is hard to imagine Lincoln letting Greeley's resentment smolder for years as Seward did". [66]

Seward's forces made Greeley a target of their anger at the senator's defeat. One subscriber cancelled, regretting the three-cent stamp he had to use on the letter Greeley supplied a replacement. When he was attacked in print, Greeley responded in kind. He launched a campaign against corruption in the New York Legislature, hoping voters would defeat incumbents and the new legislators would elect him to the Senate when Seward's term expired in 1861 (senators were until 1913 elected by state legislatures). But his main activity during the campaign of 1860 was boosting Lincoln and denigrating the other presidential candidates. He made it clear that a Republican administration would not interfere with slavery where it already was and denied that Lincoln was in favor of voting rights for African Americans. He kept up the pressure until Lincoln was elected in November. [67]

Lincoln soon let it be known that Seward would be Secretary of State, meaning he would not be a candidate for re-election to the Senate. Weed wanted William M. Evarts elected in his place, while the anti-Seward forces in New York gathered around Greeley. The crucial battleground was the Republican caucus, as the party held the majority in the legislature. Greeley's forces did not have enough votes to send him to the Senate, but they had enough strength to block Evarts's candidacy. Weed threw his support to Ira Harris, who had already received several votes, and who was chosen by the caucus and elected by the legislature in February 1861. Weed was content to have blocked the editor, and stated that he had "paid the first installment on a large debt to Mr. Greeley". [68]

Civil War Edit

War breaks out Edit

After Lincoln's election, there was talk of secession in the South. The Tribune was initially in favor of peaceful separation, with the South becoming a separate nation. According to an editorial on November 9:

If the Cotton States shall become satisfied that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on letting them go in peace. The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless . And whenever a considerable section of our Union shall deliberately resolve to go out, we shall resist all coercive measures designed to keep it in. We hope never to live in a republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets. [69]

Similar editorials appeared through January 1861, after which Tribune editorials took a hard line on the South, opposing concessions. [70] Williams concludes that "for a brief moment, Horace Greeley had believed that peaceful secession might be a form of freedom preferable to civil war". [71] This brief flirtation with disunion would have consequences for Greeley—it was used against him by his opponents when he ran for president in 1872. [71]

In the days leading up to Lincoln's inauguration, the Tribune headed its editorial columns each day, in large capital letters: "No compromise!/No concession to traitors!/The Constitution as it is!" [72] Greeley attended the inauguration, sitting close to Senator Douglas, as the Tribune hailed the beginning of Lincoln's presidency. When southern forces attacked Fort Sumter, the Tribune regretted the loss of the fort, but applauded the fact that war to subdue the rebels, who formed the Confederate States of America, would now take place. The paper criticized Lincoln for not being quick to use force. [73]

Through the spring and early summer of 1861, Greeley and the Tribune beat the drum for a Union attack. "On to Richmond", a phrase coined by a Tribune stringer, became the watchword of the newspaper as Greeley urged the occupation of the rebel capital of Richmond before the Confederate Congress could meet on July 20. In part because of the public pressure, Lincoln sent the half-trained Union Army into the field at the First Battle of Manassas in mid-July where it was soundly beaten. The defeat threw Greeley into despair, and he may have suffered a nervous breakdown. [74]

"Prayer of Twenty Millions" Edit

Restored to health by two weeks at the farm he had purchased in Chappaqua, Greeley returned to the Tribune and a policy of general backing of the Lincoln administration, even having kind words to say about Secretary Seward, his old foe. He was supportive even during the military defeats of the first year of the war. Late in 1861, he proposed to Lincoln through an intermediary that the president provide him with advance information as to its policies, in exchange for friendly coverage in the Tribune. Lincoln eagerly accepted, "having him firmly behind me will be as helpful to me as an army of one hundred thousand men." [75]

By early 1862, however, Greeley was again sometimes critical of the administration, frustrated by the failure to win decisive military victories, and perturbed at the president's slowness to commit to the emancipation of the slaves once the Confederacy was defeated, something the Tribune was urging in its editorials. This was a change in Greeley's thinking which began after First Manassas, a shift from preservation of the Union being the primary war purpose to wanting the war to end slavery. By March, the only action against slavery that Lincoln had backed was a proposal for compensated emancipation in the border states that had remained loyal to the Union, though he signed legislation abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. [76] Lincoln supposedly asked a Tribune correspondent, "What in the world is the matter with Uncle Horace? Why can't he restrain himself and wait a little while?" [77]

Greeley's prodding of Lincoln culminated in a letter to him on August 19, 1862, reprinted on the following day in the Tribune as the "Prayer of Twenty Millions". By this time, Lincoln had informed his Cabinet of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation he had composed, and Greeley was told of it the same day the prayer was printed. In his letter, Greeley demanded action on emancipation and strict enforcement of the Confiscation Acts. Lincoln must "fight slavery with liberty", and not fight "wolves with the devices of a sheep". [78]

Lincoln's reply would become famous, much more so than the prayer that provoked it. [79] "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because it helps to save the Union and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union." [80] Lincoln's statement angered abolitionists William Seward's wife Frances complained to her husband that Lincoln had made it seem "that the mere keeping together a number of states is more important than human freedom." [80] Greeley felt Lincoln had not truly answered him, "but I'll forgive him everything if he'll issue the proclamation". [79] When Lincoln did, on September 22, Greeley hailed the Emancipation Proclamation as a "great boon of freedom". According to Williams, "Lincoln's war for Union was now also Greeley's war for emancipation." [81]

Draft riots and peace efforts Edit

After the Union victory at Gettysburg in early July 1863, the Tribune wrote that the rebellion would be quickly "stamped out". [82] A week after the battle, the New York City draft riots erupted. Greeley and the Tribune were generally supportive of conscription, though feeling that the rich should not be allowed to evade it by hiring substitutes. Support for the draft made them targets of the mob, and the Tribune Building was surrounded, and at least once invaded. Greeley secured arms from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and 150 soldiers kept the building secure. Mary Greeley and her children were at the farm in Chappaqua a mob threatened them, but dispersed without doing harm. [83]

In August 1863, Greeley was requested by a firm of Hartford publishers to write a history of the war. Greeley agreed, and over the next eight months penned a 600-page volume, which would be the first of two, entitled The American Conflict. [84] The books were very successful, selling a total of 225,000 copies by 1870, a large sale for the time. [85]

Throughout the war, Greeley played with ideas as to how to settle it. In 1862, Greeley had approached the French minister to Washington, Henri Mercier, to discuss a mediated settlement. However, Seward rejected such talks and the prospect of European intervention receded after the bloody Union victory at Antietam in September 1862. [86] In July 1864, Greeley received word that there were Confederate commissioners in Canada, empowered to offer peace. In fact, the men were in Niagara Falls, Canada to aid Peace Democrats and otherwise undermine the Union war effort. but they played along when Greeley journeyed to Niagara Falls, at Lincoln's request: the president was willing to consider any deal that included reunion and emancipation. The Confederates had no credentials and were unwilling to accompany Greeley to Washington under safe conduct. Greeley returned to New York, and the episode, when it became public, embarrassed the administration. Lincoln said nothing publicly concerning Greeley's credulous conduct, but privately indicated that he had no confidence in him anymore. [87]

Greeley did not initially support Lincoln for nomination in 1864, casting about for other candidates. In February, he wrote in the Tribune that Lincoln could not be elected to a second term. Nevertheless, no candidate made a serious challenge to Lincoln, who was nominated in June, which the Tribune applauded slightly. [88] In August, fearing a Democratic victory and acceptance of the Confederacy, Greeley engaged in a plot to get a new convention to nominate another candidate, with Lincoln withdrawing. The plot came to nothing. Once Atlanta was taken by Union forces on September 3, Greeley became a fervent supporter of Lincoln. Greeley was gratified both by Lincoln's re-election and continued Union victories. [89]

Reconstruction Edit

As the war drew to a close in April 1865, Greeley and the Tribune urged magnanimity towards the defeated Confederates, arguing that making martyrs of Confederate leaders would only inspire future rebels. This talk of moderation ceased when Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Many concluded that Lincoln had fallen as the result of a final rebel plot, and the new president, Andrew Johnson, offered $100,000 for the capture of fugitive Confederate president Jefferson Davis. After the rebel leader was caught, Greeley initially advocated that "punishment be meted out in accord with a just verdict". [90]

Through 1866, Greeley editorialized that Davis, who was being held at Fortress Monroe, should either be set free or put on trial. Davis's wife Varina urged Greeley to use his influence to gain her husband's release. In May 1867, a Richmond judge set bail for the former Confederate president at $100,000. Greeley was among those who signed the bail bond, and the two men met briefly at the courthouse. This act resulted in public anger against Greeley in the North. Sales of the second volume of his history (published in 1866) declined sharply. [91] Subscriptions to the Tribune (especially the Weekly Tribune) also dropped off, though they recovered during the 1868 election. [92]

Initially supportive of Andrew Johnson's lenient Reconstruction policies, Greeley soon became disillusioned, as the president's plan allowed the quick formation of state governments without securing suffrage for the freedman. When Congress convened in December 1865, and gradually took control of Reconstruction, he was generally supportive, as Radical Republicans pushed hard for universal male suffrage and civil rights for freedmen. Greeley ran for Congress in 1866 but lost badly, and for Senate in the legislative election held in early 1867, losing to Roscoe Conkling. [93]

As president and Congress battled, Greeley remained firmly opposed to the president, and when Johnson was impeached in March 1868, Greeley and the Tribune strongly supported his removal, attacking Johnson as "an aching tooth in the national jaw, a screeching infant in a crowded lecture room," and declaring, "There can be no peace or comfort till he is out." [94] Nevertheless, the president was acquitted by the Senate, much to Greeley's disappointment. Also in 1868, Greeley sought the Republican nomination for governor but was frustrated by the Conkling forces. Greeley supported the successful Republican presidential nominee, General Ulysses S. Grant in the 1868 election. [95]

Grant years Edit

In 1868, Whitelaw Reid joined the Tribune 's staff as managing editor. [96] In Reid, Greeley found a reliable second-in-command. [97] Also on the Tribune's staff in the late 1860s was Mark Twain [98] Henry George sometimes contributed pieces, as did Bret Harte. [99] In 1870, John Hay joined the staff as an editorial writer. Greeley soon pronounced Hay the most brilliant at that craft ever to write for the Tribune. [100]

Greeley maintained his interest in associationism. Beginning in 1869, he was heavily involved in an attempt to found a utopia, called the Union Colony of Colorado, on the prairie in a scheme led by Nathan Meeker. The new town of Greeley, Colorado Territory was named after him. He served as treasurer and lent Meeker money to keep the colony afloat. In 1871, Greeley published a book What I Know About Farming, based on his childhood experience and that from his country home in Chappaqua. [101] [102]

Greeley continued to seek political office, running for state comptroller in 1869 and the House of Representatives in 1870, losing both times. [103] In 1870, President Grant offered Greeley the post of minister to Santo Domingo (today, the Dominican Republic), which he declined. [104]

As had been the case for much of the 19th century, political parties continued to be formed and to vanish after the Civil War. In September 1871, Missouri Senator Carl Schurz formed the Liberal Republican Party, founded on opposition to President Grant, opposition to corruption, and support of civil service reform, lower taxes, and land reform. He gathered around him an eclectic group of supporters whose only real link was their opposition to Grant, whose administration had proved increasingly corrupt. The party needed a candidate, with a presidential election upcoming. Greeley was one of the best-known Americans, as well as being a perennial candidate for office. [105] He was more minded to consider a run for the Republican nomination, fearing the effect on the Tribune should he bolt the party. Nevertheless, he wanted to be president, as a Republican if possible, if not, as a Liberal Republican. [106] [107]

The Liberal Republican national convention met in Cincinnati in May 1872. Greeley was spoken of as a possible candidate, as was Missouri Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown. Schurz was ineligible as foreign-born. On the first ballot, Supreme Court Justice David Davis led, but Greeley took a narrow lead on the second ballot. Former minister to Britain Charles Francis Adams took the lead, but on the sixth ballot, after a "spontaneous" demonstration staged by Reid, Greeley gained the nomination, with Brown as vice presidential candidate. [108]

The Democrats, when they met in Baltimore in July, faced a stark choice: nominate Greeley, long a thorn in their side, or split the anti-Grant vote and go on to certain defeat. They chose the former, and even adopted the Liberal Republican platform, which called for equal rights for African Americans. [109] Greeley resigned as editor of the Tribune for the campaign, [110] and, unusually for the time, embarked on a speaking tour to bring his message to the people. As it was customary for candidates for major office to not actively campaign, he was attacked as a seeker after office. [111] Nevertheless, in late July, Greeley (and others, such as former Ohio governor Rutherford B. Hayes) thought he would very likely be elected. [112] Greeley campaigned on a platform of intersectional reconciliation, arguing that the war was over and the issue of slavery was resolved. It was time to restore normality and end the continuing military occupation of the South. [113]

The Republican counterattack was well-financed, accusing Greeley of support for everything from treason to the Ku Klux Klan. The anti-Greeley campaign was famously and effectively summed up in the cartoons of Thomas Nast, whom Grant later credited with a major role in his re-election. Nast's cartoons showed Greeley giving bail money for Jefferson Davis, throwing mud on Grant, and shaking hands with John Wilkes Booth across Lincoln's grave. The Crédit Mobilier scandal—corruption in the financing of the Union Pacific Railroad—broke in September, but Greeley was unable to take advantage of the Grant administration's ties to the scandal as he had stock in the railroad himself, and some alleged it had been given to him in exchange for favorable coverage. [114]

Greeley's wife Mary had returned ill from a trip to Europe in late June. [115] Her condition worsened in October, and he effectively broke off campaigning after October 12 to be with her. She died on October 30, plunging him into despair a week before the election. [116] Poor results for the Democrats in those states that had elections for other offices in September and October presaged defeat for Greeley, and so it proved. He received 2,834,125 votes to 3,597,132 for Grant, who secured 286 electors to 66 chosen for Greeley. The editor-turned-candidate won only six states (out of 37): Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. [117]

Final month and death Edit

Greeley resumed the editorship of the Tribune, but quickly learned there was a movement underway to unseat him. He found himself unable to sleep, and after a final visit to the Tribune on November 13 (a week after the election) remained under medical care. At the recommendation of a family physician, Greeley was sent to Choate House, the asylum of Dr. George Choate at Pleasantville, New York. [118] There, he continued to worsen, and died on November 29, with his two surviving daughters and Whitelaw Reid at his side. [119]

His death came before the Electoral College balloted. His 66 electoral votes were divided among four others, principally Indiana governor-elect Thomas A. Hendricks and Greeley's vice presidential running mate, Benjamin Gratz Brown. [120]

Although Greeley had requested a simple funeral, his daughters ignored his wishes and arranged a grand affair at the Church of the Divine Paternity, later the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York, where Greeley was a member. He is buried in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Among the mourners were old friends, Tribune employees including Reid and Hay, his journalistic rivals, and a broad array of politicians, led by President Grant. [121]

Despite the venom that had been spewed over him in the presidential campaign, Greeley's death was widely mourned. Harper's Weekly, which had printed Nast's cartoons, wrote, "Since the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the death of no American has been so sincerely deplored as that of Horace Greeley and its tragical circumstances have given a peculiarly affectionate pathos to all that has been said of him." [122] Henry Ward Beecher wrote in the Christian Union, "when Horace Greeley died, unjust and hard judgment of him died also". [123] Harriett Beecher Stowe noted Greeley's eccentric dress, "That poor white hat! If, alas, it covered many weaknesses, it covered also much strength, much real kindness and benevolence, and much that the world will be better for". [123]

Greeley supported liberal policies towards the fast-growing western regions he memorably advised the ambitious to "Go West, young man." [124] He hired Karl Marx because of his interest in coverage of working-class society and politics, [125] attacked monopolies of all sorts, and rejected land grants to railroads. [126] Industry would make everyone rich, he insisted, as he promoted high tariffs. [127] He supported vegetarianism, opposed liquor and paid serious attention to any ism anyone proposed. [128]

Historian Iver Bernstein says:

Greeley was an eclectic and unsystematic thinker, a one-man switch-board for the international cause of "Reform." He committed himself, all at once, to utopian and artisan socialism, to land, sexual, and dietary reform, and, of course, to anti-slavery. Indeed Greeley's great significance in the culture and politics of Civil War-era America stemmed from his attempt to accommodate intellectually the contradictions inherent in the many diverse reform movements of the time. [129]

Greeley's view of freedom was based in the desire that all should have the opportunity to better themselves. [130] According to his biographer, Erik S. Lunde, "a dedicated social reformer deeply sympathetic to the treatment of poor white males, slaves, free blacks, and white women, he still espoused the virtues of self-help and free enterprise". [131] Van Deusen stated: "His genuine human sympathies, his moral fervor, even the exhibitionism that was a part of his makeup, made it inevitable that he should crusade for a better world. He did so with apostolic zeal." [132]

Nevertheless, Greeley's effectiveness as a reformer was undermined by his idiosyncrasies: according to Williams, he "must have looked like an apparition, a man of eccentric habits dressed in an old linen coat that made him look like a farmer who came into town for supplies". [133] Van Deusen wrote, "Greeley's effectiveness as a crusader was limited by some of his traits and characteristics. Culturally deficient, he was to the end ignorant of his own limitations, and this ignorance was a great handicap." [132]

The Tribune remained under that name until 1924, when it merged with the New York Herald to become the New York Herald-Tribune, which was published until 1966. [134] The name survived until 2013, when the International Herald-Tribune became the International New York Times. [135]

There is a statue of Greeley in City Hall Park in New York, donated by the Tribune Association. Cast in 1890, it was not dedicated until 1916. [136] A second statue of Greeley is located in Greeley Square in Midtown Manhattan. [137] Greeley Square, at Broadway and 33rd Street, was named by the New York City Common Council in a vote after Greeley's death. [138] Van Deusen concluded his biography of Greeley:

More significant still was the service that Greeley performed as a result of his faith in his country and his countrymen, his belief in infinite American progress. For all his faults and shortcomings, Greeley symbolized an America that, though often shortsighted and misled, was never suffocated by the wealth pouring from its farms and furnaces . For through his faith in the American future, a faith expressed in his ceaseless efforts to make real the promise of America, he inspired others with hope and confidence, making them feel that their dreams also had the substance of realty. It is his faith, and theirs that has given him his place in American history. In that faith he still marches among us, scolding and benevolent, exhorting us to confidence and to victory in the great struggles of our own day. [139]


18 - To Horace Greeley

After the abolitionist editor Horace Greeley published “The Prayer of Twenty Millions” in The New York Tribune (August 20, 1862), an open letter urging the president to use his power to emancipate all American slaves, Lincoln replied in a letter published five days later. Lincoln says that his “paramount object” is not to free the slaves but to save the Union, and he would free none, all, or some slaves only if that would further that higher end. He had already drafted the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (see selection 19), and used his widely publicized reply to Greeley to prepare the public for its release.

Executive Mansion, Washington

I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not, now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.


Horace Greeley’s “The Prayer of Twenty Millions” is published - HISTORY

On the editorial page of the New York Tribune of August 20, 1862, Horace Greeley published an open letter to President Abraham Lincoln entitled, &ldquoTHE PRAYER OF TWENTY MILLIONS.” Greeley was an abolitionist who was adamant in his demand that the president do something about slavery. Following are excerpts from that letter:

&ldquoTo ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States:

&ldquoDEAR SIR: I do not intrude to tell you—for you must know already—that a great proportion of those who triumphed in your election, and of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the Rebellion now desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of the Rebels. I write only to set succinctly and unmistakably before you what we require, what we think we have a right to expect, and of what we complain.

&ldquoWe require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE LAWS. &rdquo

“We complain that the Union cause has suffered and is now suffering immensely, from mistaken deference to Rebel Slavery. Had you, Sir, in your Inaugural Address, unmistakably given notice that, in case the Rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed force, you would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in Slavery by a traitor, we believe that the Rebellion would have received a staggering, if not fatal blow. &rdquo

“On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union Cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous and futile—that the Rebellion, if crushed out tomorrow, would be renewed within a year if Slavery were left in full vigor—that the army of officers who remain to this day devoted to Slavery can at best be but half way loyal to the Union—and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union. &rdquo

&ldquoI close as I began with the statement that what an immense majority of the Loyal Millions of your countrymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the land, more especially of the Confiscation Act. As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that of Principle and Honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is indispensable not only to the existence of our country, but to the well-being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.&rdquo

PRESIDENT LINCOLN' RESPONSE

President Abraham Lincoln's response is one of his most famous letters. When Lincoln wrote this letter, he was already at work on the Emancipation Proclamation , but as he states clearly in his reponse, his first concern was the Union. Lincoln sent his response to the New York Times for publication rather than to Greeley's New York Tribune. The Times was a strong supporter of Lincoln's policies, whereas Greeley's Tribune had become something of a gadfly to Lincoln's administration.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable [sic] in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Articles from the Constitution of the Confederate States of America on Slavery:

[Powers of Congress] No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

[Rights of Citizens] The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

[Fugitive Slaves] No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs, or to whom such service or labor may be due.

[Confederate Territory] The Confederate States may acquire new territory and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

[Taxation] Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this Confederacy, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all slaves.

[Slave Trade] The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. . Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.

It is interesting to study Lincoln's response to Horace Greeley, compare it with the intentions of the Confedercy clearly stated in their Constitution, and to compare the Confederate Constitution with the original United States Constitution.


Watch the video: Abraham Lincoln 1863 (January 2022).