Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-Century Crusader

By Glyndon G. Van Deusen | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 18
A Nationalist at Bay

THE STORM OVER THE UNION BEGAN TO LOWER immediately that the election was over. At the same time, a fury of contention arose concerning the spoils of office, most of all over the Cabinet. The country was thus confronted with the spectacle of two conflicts, one of ever-increasing gravity, waged over the preservation of the nation, the other, less ominous to the peace and safety of the country but nevertheless full of bitterness and hatred, fought out among the groups and cliques of Republican office‐ seekers.

Anti-Seward Republicans in New York were determined to advance their own interests the while they saved the national government from the clutches of Thurlow Weed. The more they thought about it, the more virtue they saw in pushing Horace Greeley for a place in Lincoln's inner circle. Conversations ensued, rumor took wing and speculation spread.

It was reported that the Tribune's editor wanted to be postmaster-general, the better to launch his lightnings against governmental waste and Congressional franks. His friends waxed enthusiastic. His enemies jeered. One ex-legislator, ousted by his constituents for his part in the gridiron-bill corruption, reported it as settled that Greeley was to be Secretary of the Exterior, "his principal duties to watch the thermometer and tell how cold it is out there." 1 Reformer Joshua Leavitt of the Independent wrote in alarm to Salmon P. Chase that to put Greeley in the Cabinet in any position would ruin the Administration.

Greeley professed a complete lack of interest in becoming a member of Lincoln's official family. Writing to Beman Brockway he noted, only to wave grandly aside, the possibility that he might be offered a Cabinet station. Such a move, he declared, would needlessly infuriate the South and he had no interest in the honor.

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