Horace Greeley, 1811-1872
Louis C. Kleber profiles the Democratic candidate for the Presidency in 1872; a self-made man who combined lofty ideals with many eccentric prejudices.
No two men could look each other in the face and say “Greeley” without laughing!’ This biting comment by one of his contemporaries was not made without basis. Even when the poor boy from New Hampshire became the foremost figure in American journalism, and certainly in the first rank of the press’s intellectuals, Greeley’s eccentricities and unkempt appearance masked his capabilities.
His is a classic Horatio Alger story; the young man with no advantages who, by his own brilliance and ambition, rose to the top of his field. In the end, his overwhelming defeat as a Presidential candidate, and his death less than a month later, provide the elements of classic tragedy.