Journalist. Born in Amherst, New Hampshire, of poor parents, he was raised on a farm (and to the end of his life he never quite lost the appearance and manner of a country farmer). Although he read widely on his own, his formal schooling stopped at 14, when he went to work for a Vermont newspaper. Starting as a typesetter, he worked up to become a printer and then a journalist. By 1841 he founded a newspaper in New York City, the Tribune, and made it the largest, most powerful newspaper in the country. By 1860 its circulation had reached almost 288,000, and he enjoyed a national reputation as political savant, social crusader, moralist, and eccentric who espoused every new cause or fad. In becoming the standard in American journalism, his paper became a major influence in shaping public opinion. And he did not hesitate to use this influence in sharing his views with the nation of his opposition to slavery. He became one of the first to join the new Republican Party, and although he initially opposed the nomination of Lincoln, he ended up supporting him. After the election, he took the position that even the end of the Union was preferable to any compromise with the extension of slavery, therefore he opposed the Crittenden Compromise vigorously. He was known as one of the biggest supporters of the war effort. Allying himself with Radicals such as Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, and Salmon P. Chase, he opposed conciliation and demanded immediate emancipation of slaves. As the war progressed, he pursed what others regarded as an erratic course. Convinced that Lincoln could not win the presidency in 1864, he hesitated to support him. As early as 1863 he flirted with the idea of foreign mediation. His growing urge to promote peace led him in 1864 to attempt direct negotiations with the Confederacy, a move that brought him ridicule. Nor did his plea for amnesty and pledging of bail for Jefferson Davis in 1867 win him friends. This gesture cost him half of his subscribers to the Tribune. Many found his helping of Davis very odd as he had been attacking new President Andrew Johnson for not dealing hard enough with the South. Disillusioned with the Ulysses S. Grant Administration, he joined with others to form the Liberal Republicans, who later in 1872, joined Democrats in their nomination of him for the presidency; which he had been eying for some time. His campaign turned into a fiasco. Although he campaigned hard and sincerely, he had by this time so confused people that the opposition could attack him as everything from a national traitor to a country bumpkin. He was so abused that he once asked whether he was running for the presidency or the penitentiary. He was thoroughly defeated by Grant, and was a broken man; his wife had died only days before the election. Denied the editorship on his former paper, he became insane and with it lost his health. For decades Americans had tolerated or admired him as a national eccentric; at the end their affection for his oddities soured into scurrilous derision.
Bio by: Ugaalltheway
Mary Young Cheney Greeley