The End of the Rainbow
THERE WAS A NOTE OF FATALISM IN GREELEY'S REACtion to the political situation in the winter of 1871-72. In February 1872, he wrote to a close friend that he would not support Grant if he could help it, adding half whimsically and half seriously that he wanted a President who could get along on less liquor and tobacco. A month later, he wrote to another friend—"I am drifting into a fight with Grant. I hate it . . . ." Then he added that it would alienate many friends and probably injure the Tribune, "of which so little is my own property that I dread to wreck it . . . ."
It was clear that Greeley disliked intensely the thought of the impending struggle, and yet all the time his actions made it more nearly inevitable. There was in this attitude a sense of his own importance as a molder of public opinion, and perhaps some realization of an impending destiny. For rumors of his own candidacy for the highest office in the land were constantly flying about. 1
But if the Tribune's guiding spirit bolted the regular Republican nomination, where was he to go? He could scarcely picture himself moving into the ranks of the bourgeoning temperance party, for he had become convinced that temperance was not a good political issue and besides the field was too narrow for one of his catholic interests. The eight-hour-day labor reformers were even more repugnant to one who regarded hard work as a virtue, and Victoria Woodhull's weird combination of woman suffrage and free love was of course utterly beyond the pale. So was the Democracy, that "Sham Democracy" which he had covered with contumely and abuse these many years. There was, in fact, only one possible refuge for Greeley, and that was Liberal Republicanism.
During the preceding four years, slowly at first but more rapidly as time had revealed the limitations of the hero, a movement of revolt against Grant and all his works had been growing up within the Republican ranks. It had rumbled like distant thunder in con