The Life of Horace Greeley, Editor of the New York Tribune

By J. Parton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX.
THE TRIBUNE CONTINUES.

The Special Express system--Night adventures of Enoch Ward--Gig Express--Ex press from Halifax--Baulked by the snow-drifts--Party warfare then--Books pub lished by Greeley and McElrath--Course of the Tribune--The Editor travels-- Scenes in Washington--An incident of travel--Clay and Frelinghuysen--The exertions of Horace Greeley--Results of the defeat--The Tribune and Slavery--Burning of the Tribune Building--The Editor's reflections upon the fire.

WHAT gunpowder, improved fire-arms, and drilling have done for war, the railroad and telegraph have done for the daily press, namely, reduced success to an affair of calculation and expenditure. Twelve years ago, there was a chance for the display of individual enterprise, daring, prowess, in procuring news, and, above all, in being the first to announce it; which was, is, and ever will be, the point of competition with daily papers. Those were the days of the Special Expresses, which appear to have been run, regardless of expense, horseflesh, and safety, and in the running of which incredible things were achieved. Not reporters alone were then sent to remote places to report an expected speech. The reporters were accompanied, sometimes, by a rider, sometimes by a corps of printers with fonts of type, who set up the speech on the special steamboat as fast as the reporters could write it out, and had it ready for the press before the steamboat reached the city. Wonderful things were done by special express in those days; for the competition between the rival papers was intense beyond description.

Take these six paragraphs from the Tribune as the sufficient and striking record of a state of things long past away. They need no explanation or connecting remark. Perhaps they will astonish the young reader rather:

"The Governor's Message reached Wall street last evening, at nine. The contract was for three riders and ten relays of horses, and the Express was to start at 12 o'clock, M., and reach this city at 10 in the evening. It is not

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