Horace Greeley: Printer, Editor, Crusader

By Henry Luther Stoddard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
Greeley's "Itch For Office"

WHY CRITICIZE Greeley for the "itch for office" that his opponents talked so much about?

He certainly never used the Tribune as a personal campaigning ground; no person ever charged that Greeley sought his support. Charles A. Dana had this to say of Greeley and of editors generally in public life:

When I hear that commonplace criticism, which in many quarters is so freely launched against the memory of Horace Greeley and which deplores, either with sincerity or with sham, the ambition which led him, as we are told, out of his proper sphere into the paths of political aspiration, and made him dream that he could sit in the seat of George Washington -- when I hear that criticism I hear it without sympathy and without respect.

When I hear also that there is too much ambition in the minds of intellectual men, gifted with power by nature, trained for public duty by practice and by familiarity with public affairs -- when I hear that I feel that the evil that we suffer from, on the contrary, is that there is too little of such ambition; too little of that high aspiration which aims boldly and freely at the noblest rewards which the people have to give; too little of that readiness to submit one's self to the most grave and serious duties which the people can impose.

Of all of Greeley's experiences in life none could possibly have equaled in unhappiness for himself the trials he surely would have had in public office. No one knew this better than he did, yet like

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