Jo Ann Manfra
"Go West, young man," urged Horace Greeley, America's most celebrated journalist, "go West and grow up with the country."
This legendary advice, which Greeley did not originate but did popularize to the point that it has been forever associated with his name, remains part of the nation's continuing conversation with itself on matters of history and culture. Nothing so appropriately captures in a single declarative sentence the youthful, adventurous, acquisitive optimism that energized thousands of mid-nineteenth century men and women to relocate beyond the Mississippi.
Greeley failed to follow his own counsel. Although in middle age he confessed that "I should have been a farmer," this yearning, if it existed at all in his younger years, did not move him to seek his fortune on the broad prairies of Indiana or Illinois.1 A child prodigy, born in 1811 on one hardscrabble New England farm and reared on another, he had already planned an escape to the newspaper business when his father announced yet another move, this time to a heavily wooded, frontier-like tract in Pennsylvania.
At age fifteen, Greeley apprenticed to a Vermont editor, and his life in journalism began. Five years later, a seasoned journeyman printer without a job and with twenty-five dollars in his pocket, he set off for New York City and the combative world of Manhattan journalism. In 1841 Greeley founded the New-York Tribune. Within