Independent at an early age

Horace Greeley was born on February 3, 1811, to a poor farming family in Amherst, New Hampshire. His father, Zaccheus Greeley, uprooted his family on numerous occasions in failed efforts to establish a successful farm. This unsettled existence made it difficult for young Horace to obtain a good education. Nonetheless, he showed considerable abilities as a speller and reader. One classmate even stated that Greeley's spelling skills were known "for miles around." As

"With its brilliant staff, exciting editorials, broad coverage of international and national events, [Greeley's] Tribune set a new standard for American journalism."

Author Lewis Leary

Horace Greeley. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Greeley entered his teen years, he began to think of ways in which he might use his spelling and reading talents to escape the family farm.

At age fourteen, Greeley left his parents' home to accept a position as a printer's apprentice in Vermont. This apprenticeship (agreement to work for another person in exchange for instruction in a trade) enabled him to learn a great deal about printing and newspaper production. In 1831, he left Vermont and traveled to New York City in hopes of securing a job with one of the city's many newspapers.

Greeley spent the next three years working for a number of New York newspapers, including the Morning Post and the Spirit of the Times. These jobs enabled him to continue to develop his knowledge of the newspaper business. As the months passed by, he began to dream of operating his own newspaper. He also started a family around this time. In 1836, he married Mary Cheney. The couple eventually had seven children, but only two survived to adulthood.

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