DURING THE THREE YEARS AFTER THE ELECTION of 1856, Greeley's life followed its usual strenuous pace, with multiple interests crowding in upon him at every hand. He continued the struggle against weeds and water on his farm, fought hard against the rising power of Fernando Wood in New York City politics, lectured, traveled across the continent, and presided jealously over the destinies of the Tribune. But his paramount interest, the subject to which he devoted himself over and above all else, was the battle that he had marked out against the Slave Power.
It was slavery, Greeley dinned into his readers, that was the great bar to the economic development of the West and of the South itself. It was the Slave Power, hostile alike to free labor and free land, opposed to protection for American industry, avid for expansion into new areas within and without the Union, that was the real threat to the safety and prosperity of the nation. National interest demanded that the power of the slavocracy be curbed, and that the institution itself be set on the high road to extinction. 1
The Slave Power, Greeley declared, had captured the party of Pierce and Douglas and Buchanan, making it more than ever a party of democracy in name only—a Sham Democracy. That party, as the subservient tool of the southern oligarchs, was eager to invade the rights of self government in countries to the south of the United States. It stood opposed to protection, to free land, even to land grant colleges, bound as it was hand and foot to the chariot wheels of the great planters. Left to work its will, the Sham Democracy would transform this democratic republic into a slaveholding oligarchy. 2
But, fortunately for the country, a new party had come into being at this critical juncture, a party that was committed to the true interests of the nation. Republicanism, as Greeley understood it