Chapter 29: position and influence of Horace Greeley.
- At the head of his profession -- extent of his influence -- nature of his influence -- a conservative -- radical -- his practical suggestions -- to aspiring young men -- have a home of your own -- to young mechanics -- coming to the city -- a Labor Exchange -- pay as you go -- to the Lovers of knowledge -- to young orators -- the colored people -- to young lawyers and Doctors -- to an inquiring slaveholder -- to country Editors -- in Peace, prepare for war -- to country merchants -- tenement houses.
A satirist observes, that the difference, in modern days, between a distinguished and a common man is, that the name of a distinguished  man is frequently printed in newspapers, the name of a common man never or seldom. If the remark is correct, then Horace Greeley is by far the most distinguished person, out of office, in the United States. The click of the types that set up his name is seldom hushed. Probably, more than half of our three thousand newspapers published this week, contain something about him or by him, something at least which but for him they would not contain. And who has seen, for the last few years, a political caricature in which the man with the white coat, and long locks, and hat on the back of his head, does not figure conspicuously? In England, it is a maxim, that the politician who is not caricatured is a failure. What an immense success, then, would the English accord to Horace Greeley! It is rare indeed for a man to attain precisely that position in life, which, in his youthful days, he coveted and aimed at. This happiness, this success, our hero enjoys. He tells us, that in his boyhood, he had “no other ambition than that of attaining usefulness and position as an editor, and to this end all the studies and efforts of his life have tended.” As editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, at this moment, stands at the head of the editorial profession in this country. The Tribune, with all its faults and deficiencies, is incomparably the ablest paper that we have yet realized. He who denies this convicts himself, not of error, but of ignorance or defective understanding. Yet many will deny it; but few who are at all acquainted with the country, will dispute the following assertion: During the last ten years or more, Horace Greeley has influenced a greater amount of thought and a greater number of characters, than any other individual who has lived in this land. At a rough calculation, he has written and published, during his editorial career, matter enough to fill one hundred and fifty volumes like this; and his writings, whatever other merit they possess or lack, have the peculiarity of being readable, and they are read. He has, moreover, addressed a larger number of persons than any other editor or man; and the majority of his readers live in these northern States, where the Intelligence, the Virtue, and (therefore) the Wealth, of this confederacy chiefly reside. He edits a paper to which many able men contribute, who write under the unavoidable  condition of not expressing an opinion to which the editor-in-chief is opposed; and who owe their connection with the paper to the fact of their general concordance with him on subjects of the first importance. To these means of influence, add his continual lecturing and public speaking, add the Whig Almanac, add the scores of Tribunes that have been started all over the northern States, Tribunes similar in spirit and intent to their great original, and then doubt, if you can, that Horace Greeley has long been the most influential man among all the millions of his countrymen What is the nature of his influence? What has he tried to effect? Any man who is not entirely a fool is better acquainted with himself than any one else is acquainted with him. In the preface to the Hints towards Reforms, Horace Greeley states what, he conceives, has been his aim as a politician. He has “aspired to be a mediator, an interpreter, a reconciler, between Conservatism and Radicalism—to bring the two into such connection and relation, that the good in each may obey the law of chemical affinity, and abandon whatever portion of either is false, mistaken or out-worn, to sink down and perish.” And again, he has “endeavored so to elucidate what is just and practical in the demands of our time for a social Renovation, that the humane and philanthropic can no longer misrepresent and malign them as destructive or infidel in their tendencies; but must joyfully recognize in them the fruits of past, and the seeds of future, progress in the history of our race.” Thus, with all his radical and progressive tendencies, he was for many arduous years a leading champion of our conservative party. That a position like this, between two opposing forces, is more apt to excite the hostility of both than the confidence of either, has been frequently shown in the career of Horace Greeley. Party, like the heart of a woman, demands all, or refuses any. On this point, however,—the nature of Horace Greeley's influence in this country,—we may properly and profitably be more particular. His opinions on such subjects as religion and politics, which include all others, the reader is acquainted with. The forte of the man lies in making practical suggestions for the better conduct of the material life of the American people. He knows the American people—he is, emphatically, one of them—and he knows what they need and what they wish. Passing by, without further statement  what may be called, in a technical sense, Horace Greeley's Opinions, I will append a few of the suggestions he has made, from time to time, designed to reform or improve:
These paragraphs, selected from more than a hundred of similar tendency, will show better than ever so much statement by another  hand, what the nature of Horace Greeley's influence is upon the affairs of his time, and upon the conduct of those who value his opinion. That his practice and his preaching correspond, the reader is aware. He knows whereof he affirms, and his message is exactly suited to our case; hence, its power.