(21.) HORACE GREELEY (1811-1872)
“Old White Coat”
Democrat Greeley/B. Gratz Brown
Defeated by Republican General Ulysses S. Grant/Henry Wilson, 1872
Many great Americans have been doomed to obscurity after defeat for the presidency, but not Horace Greeley who is considered by many our greatest Also Ran. As a young struggling newsman he founded the New York Tribune and with it exerted tremendous political, economic, and moral influence throughout the country.Third child of a bankrupt farmer, Greeley rose to fame and power without bothering to accumulate personal wealth. Yet, he paid off his father’s debts from early meager earnings and later risked control of his newspaper to support Abraham Lincoln, whom he personally disliked, at a time when Lincoln’s policies of leniency toward the South were unpopular in New York.Greeley editorialized the theme “Go West, Young Man.” He made a transcontinental trip himself; traveling by stagecoach on the new Leavenworth Pike’s Peak Express Company route with an overnight stop at Station 15 on May 31, 1859 (a reproduction of Station 15 is located on Highway 36 in Norton).
Formerly a Whig, Greeley helped found the Republican Party and exhorted Kansas Territory to come into the Union as a Free State. Ironically, it was the Democrats who nominated him and the Republican Party he had served so well defeated his crusade against corruption in Washington.Crushed by his loss to Grant and by his wife’s death, which had curtailed his campaign at a critical time, Greeley developed brain fever and died within a month.