Youth of a Yankee
HORACE GREELEY WAS BORN ON THE FAMILY FARM near the town of Amherst, New Hampshire, February 3, 1811. He was a blond, but no one would have guessed it at the moment of parturition, for he arrived in the outer world so black and breathless that he could not utter even a cry of indignation—he whose life was later to be filled with cries of indignation. At the sight of him there was consternation in the Greeley household. Then a resourceful aunt took the matter in hand. Whether she swung him by the heels, or threw cold water on his back, there is no record left to state, but at any rate Horace gasped, breathed, lived. He had been claimed for this world—to the vast future discomfort of liquor dealers, slaveholders, pimps, abortionists, seducers, and Democrats.
The Greeley's young son was named Horace because his mother had read the name in a book and liked it, and because it was also the name of a paternal relative. But the New Englanders in the vicinity did to him what they did to other Horaces. He became "Hod" Greeley.
Horace was the eldest of a family of five children, two boys and three girls. His father, Zaccheus ("Zack" to the neighborhood), was of English ancestry. Zack's wife, Mary Woodburn Greeley, came of Scotch-Irish stock. The ancestors on both sides, as far back as anything reliable can be found, were undistinguished, middle-class, small-town, and country folk, mostly farmers and blacksmiths.
Zack Greeley was a rather small man, with sandy hair and whiskers, light eyes, and colorless eyebrows. He liked husking parties and country dances, where he would sing by the hour for the dancers, if the fiddle gave out. Zack drank a good deal of rum and cider (he was never a day without liquor in the mowing season), but was reputedly a very moral man. He could and usually did work hard, and was capable of great exertion. Horace once recalled his