Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-Century Crusader

By Glyndon G. Van Deusen | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 23
Valiant Battle

THE STORM OF OBLOQUY CAUSED BY THE JEFFERSON Davis affair continued to beat around Greeley's head, but the Tribune's editor went manfully on his way. As of old, he continued to exhort his readers concerning the dangers of alcohol, the beauties of industrial cooperation, and the need for a lenient treatment of the South. But the path was rugged now, and in June of 1867 he went to Niagara Falls to snatch a few days well-earned rest.

Greeley spoke at Brockport, en route to the Falls. Unfriendly papers had it that he was howled down at the Brockport open-air meeting, but he declared indignantly that it was only a high wind that had made it difficult to hear him. Thousands had turned out, and of the crowd only six at most had kept yelling "Jeff Davis" until "silenced by the general indignation." 1

Niagara offered the scourged editor a grand, if melancholy, solace. It was, he informed his public, next to Yosemite, the most sublime sight he had ever seen. It was greater than Rome seen from the dome of St. Peters, or Italy from the southern slopes of Mount Cenis, or the Alps from Como, or Mount Blanc and her glaciers from "Chamouny." Yet the time would come when a child now living would walk, dry-shod, over the American fall to Goat Island and back, "our fall thus taking prominent position among the first of American ruins." 2 There was a quality in these observations, particularly in the reference to American ruins, that was not unlike the mournfulness of Marius amidst the ruins of Carthage. The editor of the Tribune was passing under the rod of popular displeasure, and his state of mind was not a happy one.

But come what might so far as his personal fortunes were concerned, Greeley was sublimely confident that he knew the answer to the problem of reconstruction. The answer, as always, was amnesty, plus the mixed-color Republicanism that amnesty would,

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