"Magnanimity in Triumph"
LEE SURRENDERS! Jefferson Davis and his cabinet in flight! "The rebels are now our fellow countrymen!" declares Grant at Appomattox to his soldiers. Blessed April 11, 1865! Peace at last -- but was it to be a peace of mutual understanding? Were the Confederate states to be held in subjection, or were North and South to be brought together as a reunited family? There was no doubt of Lincoln's purpose, but of all men not in public office no one was looked to so instantly for his opinion by so many people as was Horace Greeley. What policy would he urge in his Tribune? What attitude toward the surrendered rebels, individually and as a whole? Would he share the bitterness of many leaders of Congress and treat the Confederate states as a conquered province?
Before 1860 no man wrote more vigorously against slavery than did Greeley. For that reason, in the South he was the most hated of all northern men; but in 1865 -- following Lee's surrender -- the plea that Greeley made was not for antagonism in peace but for the healing influence of fraternal unity. He did not hesitate. He knew that at the outset he would be under heavy attack, but he believed he was right -- and that belief was all that Greeley ever needed for action. With Lincoln leading the people toward reconciliation, Greeley saw an opportunity to take war's hatred out of the nation's future and thus strengthen it to resume its interrupted progress toward a great destiny. In the hearts of