Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-Century Crusader

By Glyndon G. Van Deusen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 24
And Still the Quest

GREELEY FACED THE SPRING OF 1869 WITH AN AIR of confidence. Grant was safely installed in the White House. The Tribune, rebounding from its low after the Jefferson Davis affair, had a million-dollar budget. Its receipts comfortably exceeded its expenditures, and in Whitelaw Reid, who had joined its staff in the fall of 1868, Greeley had found a second in command upon whose managerial ability and newspaper sense he could confidently rely. 1 The time had come, the Tribune's editor felt, for a forward movement along truly national lines.

So once more the Tribune resounded with denunciations of strong drink and with pleadings for prohibitory laws. 2 And even as Greeley strove to exorcise Demon Rum, he inaugurated another campaign designed to revolutionize life on the farm.

What I Know of Farming, which Greeley wrote and published during 1869 and 1870, was a compendium of plans and prophecies for a better rural life. It advocated irrigation, flood control, and tree belts for the protection of the prairie regions from the force of the winds. It urged soil analysis, the diversification of crops, the conservation of natural resources, and the establishment of farmers' clubs—this last making Greeley one of the early advocates of the Grange idea. The time would come, Greeley declared, when the farmer would "be practically an engineer," and the Tribune's editor looked longingly forward to the age of the machine that would furnish the farm's motive power but that, unlike horses, could be cleaned, oiled, and put away for the winter.

What our farmers need [declared Greeley] is not a steam plow as a specialty, but a locomotive that can travel with facility, not only on common wagon roads, but across even freshly-plowed fields, without embarrassment, and prove as docile to its manager's touch as an average span of horses. . . . It should be so contrived that it may be hitched in a minute to a plow,

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