Best known for his inspirational advice to the unemployed in New York to "go west" for more opportunities, editor and political leader Horace Greeley (1811-1872) had a passion for words. He helped change the direction of American journalism and the course of history in the 19th century.
"Always rise from the table with an appetite, and you will never sit down without one," he once said.
Born to impoverished farmers in Amherst, New Hampshire, he dropped out of school at age 14 to apprentice as a printer. In 1834, the ambitious young Greeley co-founded the New Yorker, a weekly literary paper. Seven years later, he founded and edited the New York Tribune, a penny daily paper.
"Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you're at it," he observed.
Considered the most powerful publisher of his era, Greeley wrote editorials to fuel his causes. With forceful prose, he crusaded against slavery, alcohol, tobacco, and capital punishment.
"Abstaining is favorable both to the head and the pocket," the throat-whiskered Greeley believed.
With a lifelong commitment to improving society, Greeley served in the U.S. House from 1848-1849 and helped Abraham Lincoln's successful election to the Presidency. With a platform that celebrated national unity, he lost his own bid for the White House to Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. "Common sense is very uncommon," he said.
"The illusion that times that were are better than those that are, has probably pervaded all ages."
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