Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America

Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America

by Mitchell Snay
     
 

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Horace Greeley (1811–1872) was a major figure in nineteenth century American history. As a newspaper editor, politician, and reformer, Greeley was involved with the major events and trends of the era. He was the influential editor of the New York Tribune from 1841 until his death and was instrumental in the rise of the Whig and Republican parties.

Snay's

Overview

Horace Greeley (1811–1872) was a major figure in nineteenth century American history. As a newspaper editor, politician, and reformer, Greeley was involved with the major events and trends of the era. He was the influential editor of the New York Tribune from 1841 until his death and was instrumental in the rise of the Whig and Republican parties.

Snay's biography places Greeley in his historical context—considering the ways that he shaped and was influenced by the rise of the Jacksonian party system, the varieties of antebellum reform, the evolution of urban class relations, and the politics of slavery and emancipation.

Editorial Reviews

Civil War Book Review
Snay’s Horace Greeley offers a clear and readable account of the inseparability of politics and reform in one of the most densely imprecated periods of American history. In its success it underscores how much more might be said about the public world in which Horace Greeley acted.
Choice
Much has been written on Horace Greeley's involvement in progressive causes from the mid-19th century until his death (1872). To some, Greeley appears far ahead of his times in issues such as the women's movement. It is true that he discovered, nurtured, and hired intellectual/transcendentalist Margaret Fuller at the New York Tribune, although as Snay (Denison Univ., Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction, 2007) admits, Horace's wife, Molly, played a major role in his "discovery." Later, Elizabeth Cady Stanton praised Greeley "as one of our most faithful champions," even though Greeley's support over time appears to have been ambivalent. As for the burgeoning antislavery movement, Greeley "clearly voiced his opposition to slavery, though he failed to embrace abolitionism." Greeley's ambiguity on this and other matters may to some discount his progressivism. He dabbled in politics (as Democratic Party and Liberal Republican nominee in 1872 for the presidency), but deserves to be remembered as a newspaper editor, an activist for varied causes, and even as an environmentalist (a friend is Henry David Thoreau). Snay's is a fine entry in the publisher's "American Profiles" series. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.
Michael Holt
Gracefully written, balanced in judgment, and sprinkled with fresh insights, Mitchell Snay's new book on Horace Greeley and the politics of reform in mid-nineteenth-century America is a most welcome contribution, indeed.
James Oakes
It takes a good historian to write a good biography. Mitchell Snay's lucid and informative study of Horace Greeley neatly summarizes the life of the mercurial, principled, and often infuriating editor of one of the most influential newspapers in mid-nineteenth century America. But Snay is after bigger game. This is Greeley's biography framed as a smart, wide-ranging history of his times—the kind of book only a first-rate historian could write.
CHOICE
Much has been written on Horace Greeley's involvement in progressive causes from the mid-19th century until his death (1872). To some, Greeley appears far ahead of his times in issues such as the women's movement. It is true that he discovered, nurtured, and hired intellectual/transcendentalist Margaret Fuller at the New York Tribune, although as Snay (Denison Univ., Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction, 2007) admits, Horace's wife, Molly, played a major role in his "discovery." Later, Elizabeth Cady Stanton praised Greeley "as one of our most faithful champions," even though Greeley's support over time appears to have been ambivalent. As for the burgeoning antislavery movement, Greeley "clearly voiced his opposition to slavery, though he failed to embrace abolitionism." Greeley's ambiguity on this and other matters may to some discount his progressivism. He dabbled in politics (as Democratic Party and Liberal Republican nominee in 1872 for the presidency), but deserves to be remembered as a newspaper editor, an activist for varied causes, and even as an environmentalist (a friend is Henry David Thoreau). Snay's is a fine entry in the publisher's "American Profiles" series. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries.
The Journal of Southern History
Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America is an impressive accomplishment. It is very well written. One of Greeley's strengths as a journalist was his ability to convey complex ideas in a style that was clear, succinct, and entertaining to read, and Snay displays that same talent throughout his biography. Snay also manages to accomplish the difficult task of accurately depicting forty tumultuous years of American political, social, and cultural history in fewer than two hundred pages. No important facet of Greeley's career—as editor, reformer, politician, and presidential candidate—is left untouched. ... Snay's book is a carefully researched, superbly written biography of one of the Civil War era's most important but least understood figures.
The Historian
This splendid, short biography of Horace Greeley situates him effectively in the historical context of reform and republicanism in nineteenth-century America. ... Mitchell Snay. . . traces Greeley's career from his Vermont boyhood through his discovery of print culture and Whig politics in New York City to the antebellum politics of reform, antislavery, and Union and then to the era of Reconstruction that followed the bloody Civil War. ... This well-written biography will be of interest to students, general readers, and scholars alike. The author is thoroughly familiar with the historical context and the life of this remarkable reformer. He has utilized the unpublished papers of Greeley, Whitelaw Reid, Carl Schurz, and Thurlow Weed—the Republican political boss in Albany and Greeley's mentor—as well as recent secondary work in the field.
Journal of Southern History
Horace Greeley and the Politics of Reform in Nineteenth-Century America is an impressive accomplishment. It is very well written. One of Greeley's strengths as a journalist was his ability to convey complex ideas in a style that was clear, succinct, and entertaining to read, and Snay displays that same talent throughout his biography. Snay also manages to accomplish the difficult task of accurately depicting forty tumultuous years of American political, social, and cultural history in fewer than two hundred pages. No important facet of Greeley's career—as editor, reformer, politician, and presidential candidate—is left untouched. ... Snay's book is a carefully researched, superbly written biography of one of the Civil War era's most important but least understood figures.
Library Journal
Snay (history, Denison Univ.; Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites) considers Greeley (1811–72) in his roles as New York Tribune founder and editor, perennial political aspirant, and reformer. A leading member of the Whig and Republican parties, Greeley fought slavery and championed temperance, land reform, and a modified version of women's rights (without the suffrage) against Jacksonian Democrats and their successors. Frequently citing the work of other scholars, Snay emphasizes the contradictions in Greeley's simultaneous promotion of unions and class harmony, capitalism and cooperation; his morality-based pacifism and his support for the Civil War; and his anti-slavery stance and simultaneous aversion to the active federal role in Reconstruction. Opposing antebellum expansion that extended the territory of slaveholders while believing that free land would alleviate many social and economic ills, this lifelong tariff proponent died shortly after running for President. VERDICT Snay's survey of this important public life in an era when the country was transitioning from an agrarian to an industrial state is written in an instructor's explanatory tone, suitable for students and general readers alike. Scholars should stick with Robert C. Williams's more comprehensive Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom or Adam Tuchinsky's analytical Horace Greeley's New-York Tribune.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742551008
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/16/2011
Series:
American Profiles Series
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Mitchell Snay is professor of history at Denison University. He is the author of three books, Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction, Religion and the Antebellum Debate over Slavery, and Gospel of Disunion: Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South.

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