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Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley

Gregory A. Borchard

Publication Year: 2011

On the American stages of politics and journalism in the mid-nineteenth century, few men were more influential than Abraham Lincoln and his sometime adversary, sometime ally, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley. In this compelling new volume, author Gregory A. Borchard explores the intricate relationship between these two vibrant figures, both titans of the press during one of the most tumultuous political eras in American history. Packed with insightful analysis and painstaking research, Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley offers a fresh perspective on these luminaries and their legacies.

Borchard begins with an overview of the lives of both Lincoln and Greeley, delving particularly into their mutual belief in Henry Clay’s much-debated American System, and investigating the myriad similarities between the two political giants, including their comparable paths to power and their statuses as self-made men, their reputations as committed reformers, and their shared dedication to social order and developing a national infrastructure. Also detailed are Lincoln’s and Greeley’s personal quests to end slavery in the United States, as well as their staunch support of free-soil homesteads in the West. 

Yet despite their ability to work together productively, both men periodically found themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Their by turns harmonious and antagonistic relationship often played out on the front pages of Greeley’s influential newspaper, the New York Tribune. Drawing upon historical gems from the Tribune, as well as the personal papers of both Lincoln and Greeley, Borchard explores in depth the impact the two men had on their times and on each other, and how, as Lincoln’s and Greeley’s paths often crossed—and sometimes diverged—they personified the complexities, virtues, contradictions, and faults of their eras. 

Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley goes beyond tracing each man’s personal and political evolution to offer a new perspective on the history-changing events of the times, including the decline of the Whig Party and the rise of the Republicans, the drive to extend American borders into the West; and the bloody years of the Civil War. Borchard finishes with reflections on the deaths of Lincoln and Greeley and how the two men have been remembered by subsequent generations. 

Sure to become an essential volume in the annals of political history and journalism, Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley is a compelling testament to the indelible mark these men left on both their contemporaries and the face of America’s future.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Book Title

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Writing about either Abraham Lincoln or Horace Greeley should humble any historian, as nearly every account of their lives recognizes them as extraordinary Americans. When given the opportunity to write about both of them, I was also reminded of an observation from Edwin Emery, an honored media historian, who ...

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Introduction: Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley Remembered

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pp. 1-4

In an event wrongly relegated to a footnote, Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley both visited Chicago for the first time in July 1847, meeting for a political rally that helped secure their careers of national importance in both politics and the press. Organizers had originally promoted the Chicago River and Harbor Convention as ...

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1. Self-Made Men

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pp. 5-26

While the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley generally followed parallel paths, those paths intersected at times, leaving the two men legacies both distinct and interrelated. They shared similar origins and made a natural match in their respective careers of politics and the press. In their early lives, they ...

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2. Thirtieth Congressmen

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pp. 27-43

The dark horse had won, dashing whatever hopes Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley had held for what proved to be Henry Clay’s final presidential bid. President James K. Polk, seeking to extend the territorial reach of the United States across the continent, led the nation into a controversial war with Mexico (1846–48) ...

Gallery of Illustrations

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3. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men

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pp. 44-66

By accident, the saying “Go West, young man, go West” would come to be attributed to Horace Greeley, but in the spring of 1859, Greeley took the advice and set off to explore the area. The previous year, he had upset readers in Illinois—until that time considered part of the West—by supporting Stephen A. Douglas, whom, ...

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4. A Fight for Union and for Freedom

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pp. 67-89

In the months following Abraham Lincoln’s presidential nomination at the Chicago convention, publishers scrambled to find information about him for a voting public that knew little about the Republican candidate from Illinois. Among the most informative of the thirteen Lincoln campaign biographies that appeared in 1860 ...

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Conclusion: Re-Remembering Lincoln and Greeley

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pp. 90-104

As the war entered its final months and only time separated the Union from victory, Abraham Lincoln managed to shed at least some of the excruciating strain that Horace Greeley had sensed in their final meeting. Lincoln’s reelection in November 1864, combined with Union general William Tecumseh Sherman’s devastating ...

Notes on Sources

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pp. 105-114


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pp. 115-126

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 127-132


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pp. 133-139

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Author Bio

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Gregory A. Borchard is an associate professor in the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He teaches classes in journalism history, reporting, and methods. His research focuses on nineteenth-century newspapers. He is the coauthor, along with David W. Bulla ...

Series Page

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809390656
E-ISBN-10: 0809390655
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330454
Print-ISBN-10: 0809330458

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 10 B/w halftones
Publication Year: 2011