Horace Greeley: Printer, Editor, Crusader

By Henry Luther Stoddard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
"The Philadelphia Slaughterhouse"

IT is refreshing to turn from Greeley's own revelation of the tragedies of his home life to events with which he had so much to do and that forecast so definitely the future of the nation. He was to be the title-maker of the new Republican party, and the rallying and most influential force in prewar politics. But he did not gain that leadership without periods of baffled activities and ignored suggestions of policies and candidates. Keenly disappointed and depressed by the 1844 election, he was fated for a still more unhappy time as he saw his beloved Whig party losing its vitality under the guidance of his two partners in politics -- Weed and Seward. Clay's second defeat for the presidency had given his leadership the character of a lost cause; its vigor was sapped; in 1848 "availability" was to be the test for a presidential candidate and platform silence on the great issue of the day was to be the feature of the campaign. Greeley disliked intensely the prospect of either Taylor or Scott as the Whig candidate for President -- the former called by Webster "an illiterate frontier colonel" and the latter described in Greeley's own words as "an aristocratic, bombastic fuss and feathers." He appealed to Weed to nominate "anyone but a soldier with Seward as vice-president." He insisted that such a ticket would surely win -- "the country doesn't deserve to have as President that pot-bellied, muttonheaded cucumber, Lewis Cass," the Democratic nominee.

Such utterances are typical of his protests through the two years

-123-

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