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HORACE GREELEY - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 03/26/1861 - HFSID 1780

At a moment of extreme tension following South Carolina's secession but before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Greeley disputes the origin of a letter written from Charleston, since the Tribune's reporters had been "driven away" from that city.

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Condition: lightly soiled, otherwise fine condition
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HORACE GREELEY
At a moment of extreme tension following South Carolina's secession but before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Greeley disputes the origin of a letter written from Charleston, since the Tribune's reporters had been "driven away" from that city.
Autograph letter signed "Horace Greeley". 3 pages, 4¾x8, on New York Tribune letterhead, 1 sheet folded, otherwise in fine condition. March 26, 1861. Addressed to Mr. William E. Browne. In full: "Sir: I know a person named Crosby who was formerly employed as a reporter for this establishment, but is not here. So far as I know, he was never sent to Charleston by us, and never wrote any thing for the Tribune which was or pretended to be written in that city. I cannot say that he never did so write, but I feel quite certain he never did. I am personally acquainted with the gentlemen who have been sent by us to Charleston this winter, and have written letters since for the Tribune which have been duly printed in our columns. One of these, after having been driven away, came here, and returned hence to Charleston, whence he wrote us for a long time, till he was again driven away. Both the gentlemen I know as writers of letters from Charleston this last winter are now at the North. But there are two if not three other persons now employed by us in Charleston and writing us letters from that city. I have been away at Washington since Sunday night till this evening; but on Sunday I happened to see the letter from Charleston which appeared in Monday morning's Tribune, and I acknowledge that it was postmarked Charleston, S. C. and came by mail from that city- of course not directed on the [illegible] to us. So much I know. Whoever wrote that letter wrote it in Charleston, S. C., and I am quite sure it was not Crosby, whom I am informed is not now employed by the Tribune in any capacity. I know very little of Crosby, but I am very sure he never said anything inconsistent with the forgoing. He may have said that he had written a letter purporting to be from Charleston, or (more probably) that one or the other of our correspondents driven away from Charleston have written out two or three letters after he reached this city. I should not consider this impossible; but what ever is inconsistent with the above statement is false. Yours,". Greeley (1811-1872, born in Amherst, New Hampshire) founded the New York Tribune in 1841 and edited it until his death. His newspaper, competitive in price with the "penny press" but less sensational, was the first to give its writers individual by-lines and the first with a literary and book review department. The Tribune had wide readership and influence, and many of his editorial quips - like "Go West, young man" - became famous. He was steadfast in support of many causes, such as antislavery, temperance, and the rights of labor, but he could also be mercurial. He served as a Whig in Congress for three months (1848-1849) to fill a vacancy and did not seek reelection. As the Democratic and Liberal Republican parties' presidential nominee in 1872, he was defeated by President Ulysses S. Grant, who was seeking reelection. On Nov. 28, 1872, just 23 days after the election, Greeley, worn out by the grueling campaign, died at the age of 61. Why would Greeley write at such length about the origins of a letter? He wrote when South Carolina had already seceded from the Union, Jefferson Davis had been sworn in as Confederate President, but the states of the upper south, most importantly Virginia, had not yet decided to leave the Union. Lincoln had been inaugurated, but Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor had not yet been attacked. Accounts of what was going on in Charleston were bound to be controversial. Greeley had not yet settled on a firm response to secession. As late as February 23, he was still comfortable with peaceful secession ("Go in peace, errant sisters"). By June, after Lincoln's call-up of federal troops, he was declaring, "On to Richmond." Lightly toned, stained and creased. Adhesive residue on front page, which touches body of letter but not signature. Tape repairs along spine, which touches body of letter but not signature. Lightly soiled on verso (no show-through). Folded twice and unfolded. Otherwise in fine condition.

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