« PreviousContinue »
dead in many a telling article. In behalf of Protection to Ameri. can Industry, the editor wrote columns upon columns.
In a word, the Tribune was equal to its opportunity; it lived up to its privileges. In every department it steadily and strikingly improved throughout the year. It began its second year with twelve thousand subscribers, and a daily average of thirteen coluns of advertisements. The Tribune was a Fixed Fact.
The history of a daily paper is the history of the world. It is obviously impossible in the compass of a work like this to give anything like a complete history of the Tribune. For that purpose ten octavo volumes would be required, and most interesting volumes they would be. All that I can do is to select the leading events of its history which were most intimately connected with the history of its editor, and dwell with some minuteness upon them, connecting them together only by a slender thread of narrative, and omitting even to mention many things of real interest. It will be convenient, too, to group together in separate chapters events similar in their nature, but far removed from one another in the time of their occurrence. Indeed, I am overwhelmed with the mass of materials, and must struggle out as best I can. A great book is a great evil, says the Greek Reader. This book was fore-ordained to be a sinall one.
THE TRIBUNE AND FOURIERISM.
What made Horace Greeley a Socialist-The hard winter of 1838-Albert BrisbaneThe subject broached-Series of articles by Mr. Brisbane begun-Their effect-Cry of Mad Dog-Discussion between Horace Greeley and Henry J. Raymond-How it arose-Abstract of it in a conversational form.
THE editor of the Tribune was a Socialist years before the Tribune came into existence.
The winter of 1838 was unusually severe. The times were hard,
fuel and food were dear, many thousands of men and women were out of employment, and there was general distress. As the cold months wore slowly on, the sufferings of the poor became so aggravated, and the number of the unemployed increased to such a degree, that the ordinary means were inadequate to relieve even those who were destitute of every one of the necessaries of life. Some died of starvation. Some were frozen to death. Many, through exposure and privation, contracted fatal diseases. A large number, who had never before known want, were reduced to beg. Respectable mechanics were known to offer their services as waiters in eating-houses for their food only. There never had been such a time of suffering in New York before, and there has not been since. Extraordinary measures were taken by the comfortable classes to alleviate the sufferings of their unfortunate fellow-citizens. Meetings were held, subscriptions were made, committees were appointed; and upon one of the committees Horace Greeley was named to serve, and did serve, faithfully and laboriously, for many weeks. The district which his committee had in charge was the Sixth Ward, the 'bloody' Sixth, the squalid, poverty-stricken Sixth, the pool into which all that is worst in this metropolis has a tendency to reel and slide. It was his task, and that of his colleagues, to see that no one froze or starved in that forlorn and polluted region. More than this they could not do, for the subscriptions, liberal as they were, were not more than sufficient to relieve actual and pressing distress. In the better parts of the Sixth Ward a large number of mechanics lived, whose cry was, not for the bread and the fuel of charity, but for WORK! Charity their honest souls disdained. Its food choked them, its fire chilled them. Work, give us work! was their eager, passionate demand.
All this Horace Greeley heard and saw. He was a young mannot quite twenty-six-compassionate to weakness, generous to a fault. He had known what it was to beg for work, from shop to shop, from town to town; and, that very winter, he was struggling with debt, at no safe distance from bankruptcy. Why must these things be? Are they inevitable? Will they always be inevitable? Is it in human wisdom to devise a remedy? in human virtue to apply it? Can the beneficent God have designed this, who, with such wonderful profusion, has provided for the wants, tastes, and luxuries
of all his creatures, and for a hundred times as many creatures as yet have lived at the same time? Such questions Horace Greeley pondered, in silence, in the depths of his heart, during that winter of misery.
From Paris came soon the calm, emphatic answer, These things need NOT be! They are due alone to the short-sightedness and injustice of man! Albert Brisbane brought the message. Horace Greeley heard and believed it. He took it to his heart. It became a part of him.
Albert Brisbane was a young gentleman of liberal education, the son of wealthy parents. His European tour included, of course, a residence at Paris, where the fascinating dreams of Fourier were the subject of conversation. He procured the works of that amiable and noble-minded man, read them with eager interest, and became completely convinced that his captivating theories were capable of speedy realization-not, perhaps, in slow and conservative Europe, but in progressive and unshackled America. He returned home a Fourierite, and devoted himself with a zeal and disinterest edness that are rare in the class to which he belonged, and that in any class cannot be too highly praised, to the dissemination of the doctrines in which he believed. He wrote essays and pamphlets. He expounded Fourierism in conversation. He started a magazine called the Future, devoted to the explanation of Fourier's plans, published by Greeley & Co. He delivered lectures. In short, he did all that a man could do to make known to his fellow men what he believed it became them to know. He made a few converts, but only a few, till the starting of the Tribune gave him access to the public ear.
Horace Greeley made no secret of his conversion to Fourierism. On the contrary, he avowed it constantly in private, and occasionally in public print, though never in his own paper till towards the end of the Tribune's first year. His native sagacity taught him that before Fourierism could be realized, a complete revolution in public sentiment must be effected, a revolution which would require many years of patient effort on the part of its advocates.
The first mention of Mr. Brisbane and Fourierism in the Tribune, appeared October 21st, 1841. It was merely a notice of one of Mr. Brisbane's lectures:
"Mr. A. Brisbane delivered a lecture at the Stuyvesant Institute last evening upon the Genius of Christianity considered in its bearing on the Social Institutions and Terrestrial Destiny of the Human Race. He contended that the mission of Christianity upon earth has hitherto been imperfectly understood, and that the doctrines of Christ, carried into practical effect, would free the world of Want, Misery, Temptation and Crime. This, Mr. B. believes, will be effected by a system of Association, or the binding up of individual and family interests in Social and Industrial Communities, wherein all faculties may be developed, all energies usefully employed, all legitimate desires satisfied, and idleness, want, temptation and crime be annihilated. In such Associations, individual property will be maintained, the family be held sacred, and every inducement held out to a proper ambition. Mr. B. will lecture hereafter on the practical details of the system of Fourier, of whom he is a zealous disciple, and we shall then endeavor to give a more clear and full account of his doctrines."
A month later, the Tribune copied a flippant and sneering article from the London Times, on the subject of Fourierism in France In his introductory remarks the editor said:
"We have written something, and shall yet write much more, in illustration and advocacy of the great Social revolution which our age is destined to commence, in rendering all useful Labor at once attractive and honorable, and banishing Want and all consequent degradation from the globe. The germ of this revolution is developed in the writings of Charles Fourier, a philanthropic and observing Frenchman, who died in 1837, after devoting thirty years of a studious and unobtrusive life to inquiries, at once patient and profound, into the causes of the great mass of Social evils which overwhelm Humanity, and the true means of removing them. These means he proves to be a system of Industrial and Household Association, on the principle of Joint Stock Investment, whereby Labor will be ennobled and rendered attractive and universal, Capital be offered a secure and lucrative investment, and Talent and Industry find appropriate, constant employment, and adequate reward, while Plenty, Comfort, and the best means of Intellectual and Moral Improvement is guaranteed to all, regardless of former acquirements or condition. This grand, benignant plan is fully developed in the various works of M. Fourier, which are abridged in the single volume on 'The Social Destiny of Man,' by Mr. A. Brisbane, of this State. Some fifteen or sixteen other works in illustration and defense of the system have been given to the world, by Considerant, Chevalier, Paget, and other French writers, and by Hugh Doherty, Dr. H. McCormack. and others in English. A tri-weekly journal (' La Phalange') devoted to the system, is published by M. Victor Considerant in
Paris, and another (the 'London Phalanx') by Hugh Doherty, in London, sach ably edited."
Early in 1842, a number of gentlemen associated themselves together for the purpose of bringing the schemes of Fourier fully and prominently before the public; and to this end, they purchased the right to occupy one column daily on the first page of the Tribune with an article, or articles, on the subject, from the pen of Mr. Brisbane. The first of these articles appeared on the first of March, 1842, and continued, with some interruptions, at first daily, afterwards three times a week, till about the middle of 1844, when Mr. Brisbane went again to Europe. The articles were signed with the letter B, and were known to be communicated. They were calm in tone, clear in exposition. At first, they seem to have attracted little attention, and less opposition. They were regarded (as far as my youthful recollection serves) in the light of articles to be skipped, and by most of the city readers of the Tribune, I presume, they were skipped with the utmost regularity, and quite as a matter of course. Occasionally, however, the subject was alluded to editorially, and every such allusion was of a nature to be read. Gradually, Fourierism became one of the topics of the time. Gradually certain editors discovered that Fourierism was unchristian. Gradually, the cry of Mad Dog arose. Meanwhile, the articles of Mr. Brisbane were having their effect upon the People.
In May, 1843, Mr. Greeley wrote, and with perfect truth:
"The Doctrine of Association is spreading throughout the country with a rapidity which we did not anticipate, and of which we had but little hope. We receive papers from nearly all parts of the Northern and Western States, and some from the South, containing articles upon Association, in which general views and outlines of the System are given. They speak of the subject as one 'which is calling public attention,' or, 'about which so much is now said,' or, 'which is a good deal spoken of in this part of the country,' &c., showing that our Principles are becoming a topic of public discussion. From the rapid progress of our Doctrines during the past year, we look forward with hope to their rapid continued dissemination. We feel perfectly confident that never, in the history of the world, has a philosophical doctrine, or the plan of a great reform, spread with the rapidity which the Doctrine of Association has spread in the United States for the last year or two. There are now a large number of papers, and quite a number of lecturers in various parts of