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From his arrival in New York City in 1831 as a young printer from New Hampshire to his death in 1872 after losing the presidential election to General Ulysses S. Grant, Horace Greeley (b. 1811) was a quintessential New Yorker. He thrived on the city's ceaseless energy, with his New York Tribune at the forefront of a national revolution in reporting and transmitting news. Greeley devoured ideas, books, fads, and current events as quickly as he developed his own interests and causes, all of which revolved around the concept of freedom. While he adored his work as a New York editor, Greeley's lifelong quest for universal freedom took him to the edge of the American frontier and beyond to Europe. A major figure in nineteenth-century American politics and reform movements, Greeley was also a key actor in a worldwide debate about the meaning of freedom that involved progressive thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic, including Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Karl Marx. Greeley was first and foremost an ardent nationalist who devoted his life to ensuring that America live up to its promises of liberty and freedom for all of its members. Robert C. Williams places Greeley's relentless political ambitions, bold reform agenda, and complex personal life into the broader context of freedom. Horace Greeley is as rigorous and vast as Greeley himself, and as America itself in the long nineteenth century. In the first comprehensive biography of Greeley to be published in nearly half a century, Williams captures Greeley from all sides: editor, reformer, political candidate, eccentric, and trans-Atlantic public intellectual; examining headlining news issues of the day, including slavery, westward expansion, European revolutions, the Civil War, the demise of the Whig and the birth of the Republican parties, transcendentalism, and other intellectual currents of the era.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780814794029
ISBN-10: 0814794025
Format: Hardback
(5817mm x 3887mm x 26mm)
Pages: 440
Imprint: New York University Press
Publisher: New York University Press
Publish Date: 1-May-2006
Country of Publication: United States


US Kirkus Review » A comprehensive biography of Greeley (1811-72), deftly analyzing the price he paid to brook no intrusion, partisan or otherwise, on his principles. Fresh from apprenticing as a typesetter in small printing shops in New England and upstate New York, the 23-year-old Greeley arrived in New York City to found the weekly opinion journal, the New Yorker, in 1834. Seven years later, he started a newspaper, the Herald Tribune. By hiring savvy reporters and columnists like Samuel Clemens (even Karl Marx was a foreign contributor) Greeley built the Trib into perhaps the world's most widely read daily, and the most trusted in America at the time of the Civil War. He beat the drum for an expansionist-"go West"-America based on freedom and equal opportunity for all; free, that is, from the institution of slavery Greeley had come to abhor. To maintain integrity by his own standard, Williams stresses, Greeley not only had to turn against the Republican Party he helped found, but also to criticize the president he had anointed. (Lincoln himself, however, never wavered in his regard for Greeley, once a fellow Congressman who, when appointed to fill an open seat, dared call Honest Abe to account for padding his travel expenses.) Even after he had "committed political suicide," Williams notes, by funding a bail bond for former Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Greeley entered the 1872 campaign opposing U.S. Grant as the presidential candidate of the reformist Liberal Republican party and, without seeking it, also won the Democrats' nomination. His former Republican cohorts promptly moved to discredit him with vicious attacks tying him to everything from the Ku Klux Klan to New York's ultra-corrupt Boss Tweed administration. The experience, the author reckons, likely hastened his death. Powerful portrait of a publisher who became the voice of Middle America during the nation's deepest crisis. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Robert C. Williams

Robert C. Williams is Vail Professor of History Emeritus at Davidson College and lecturer in history at Bates College. His books include Klaus Fuchs: Atom Spy; Russian Art and American Money, 1900-1940; and The American Atom: A Documentary History of Nuclear Energy (with Philip Cantelon). He lives in Center Lovell, Maine.

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