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Horace Greeley in Reconstruction

Horace Greeley (1811-1872) was a prominent American newspaper editor and founder of the New York Tribune. He was the first (and last) presidential candidate of the short-lived Liberal Republican party in 1872. Greeley was also officially endorsed by the Democrats, but many of them refused to support him in practice, since he had long spoken out against many issues that their party embraced.

Initially ambivalent about the Civil War, Greeley soon became a vigorous Union supporter. He didn't think that Lincoln should be so conciliatory toward the border states and pushed for emancipation in the pages of his newspaper. During Reconstruction, he supported black suffrage and total amnesty for all southerners. When Greeley co-signed the bail bond to release Jefferson Davis from prison in May 1867, he lost half his subscribers to his Weekly Tribune. Greeley initially supported President Ulysses S. Grant but came to resent him for his ties to corrupt associates, including Roscoe Conkling's political machine in New York. He campaigned strenuously to become president but was savaged as a traitor and a crank in the press. Driven insane by his overwhelming defeat and his wife's recent death, Greeley died just weeks after the election in November 1872.

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