James M. Lundberg

Jun 30, 2020

Horace Greeley

Print, Politics, and the Failure of American Nationhood

Johns Hopkins University Press 2019

During his nearly four decades as a newspaper editor and politician, Horace Greeley embraced a range of controversial causes. In his book Horace Greeley: Print, Politics, and the Failure of American Nationhood (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019), James M. Lundberg finds within his seemingly contradictory positions a consistent belief in the power of print to forge American nationalism. This Lundberg traces to his upbringing in a Protestant American culture which valued greatly the power of reading. Upon arriving in New York City in 1831 Greeley embarked on a career as a journalist and editor, and was a key figure in the shift away from relatively expensive periodicals to the mass-produced daily newspapers. His New-York Tribune gave Greeley a prominent platform from which he advocated for his nationalist vision, and he was a visible participant in the increasingly divisive political debates of the 1840s and 1850s. As an opponent of both slavery and secession, Greeley championed both a vigorous prosecution of the war and, with the Union’s victory in 1865, a swift reconciliation of the two sides, with the latter stance alienating many of his former allies and playing a key role in his nomination as Ulysses S. Grant’s challenger in the presidential election of 1872.

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