Horace Greeley: Printer, Editor, Crusader

By Henry Luther Stoddard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
"The Dream of Rest is Over"

WITH Reid in full charge of the Tribune, up to Montreal went Greeley in December 1868 to diagnose to Canadians the disease that may be identified on this page as "presidentitis" as he saw it in others, though not then any symptoms of it in himself. He described it in this way:

Daniel Webster was not only a gentleman but he had the elements of moral greatness. He failed in only one respect and in this respect I differ with him -- he wanted to be President and I don't. We have seen one of our greatest men ( Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase) making the same blunder. I have seen men who had the disease early and died of it at a very old age. General Lewis Cass died at about 82 and up to the day of his death he wanted to be President. No one escapes who once catches the disease; he lives and dies in the delusion. Being a reader and an observer, at an early age I saw how it poisoned and paralyzed the very best of our public men, and I have carefully avoided it. We at least in our day have a President-elect (Grant) who did not try to be President. He was elected mainly on that account.

But Grant had not been a year in office before he had a second term definitely in mind and acted accordingly. He abandoned himself to the "good hater" radicals of the Republican party with whom as a soldier he had never sympathized. Independent newspapers like the Springfield Republican, Cincinnati Commercial and Chicago Tribune became "ungenerous and unjust," according to Greeley. "We have had greater Presidents than Grant," he

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