Following His Oft-Quoted Advice to “Go West,” the American Editor, Reformer, and Political Leader Reports on the Colorado Gold Mines and Much More: “The Rocky Mountains are glorious”

Signed by Horace Greeley

Item: 21216
Add to Wishlist

GREELEY, HORACE. (1811-1872). American editor, reformer, and political leader, famous for popularizing the sentiment, “Go West, young man!” ALS. (“Horace Greeley”). 4pp. 8vo. Denver (“Under the Rocky Mountains”), June 14, 1859. A lengthy letter to his friend J.H. Mix of New York.

“Have I written you already? Very likely I have, for I have written many private letters and kept no note of any. No matter: you will bear another.

I was disappointed in not hearing a word from you either at Chicago or at Leavenworth. I did not leave Leavenworth till May 24th so that any thing written within eight days after I started would have found me there. I saw Russell, though he did not arrive till Monday 23rd instead of Saturday as he promised. He was very kind to me and I think I have been able to be useful to him.

Pike’s Peak was a good deal of a humbug till a few weeks since, but it is so no longer. They have found rich loads of gold-bearing Quartz in a little ravine running to Clear Creek some 35 miles due West of this place (45 by traveled route) and are already taking out gold very fastly. 510 penny weights (worth at least $460) were washed out by four men and one sluice the day I was there (last Wednesday) and I have returns [?] of good results from three or four claims during the three last days of last week; one company running three sluices with twelve men, washed out 1,009 penny weights on Saturday. I call that good. There are great … also making money not idly by buying and selling claims to those who know how and have means.

I am detained here longer than I should be by a lame leg, which I got by the upset of the Express wagon I was coming in cover [?] a little more than half way from Leavenworth. I hope to have it so that I may go on again by Monday next. I go hence [?] (probably by a private team) to Fort Laramie, 180 miles due north, reclining [?] under the Rocky Mountains not on the prairie; at Laramie I expect to take the Salt Lake Mail and have hoped to be in Salt Lake by the 4th of July, but the loss of a week by my lame leg forbids that. I still hope to be in San Francisco by the 20th of August at farthest – I would like to be by the 10th, but I must stop a week or so in the interior of California. I shall hope to be or near you at San Fran if not at Placerville, and to have some good news about the working of the [?]. I have had a good fellow traveler from Leavenworth, but may be obliged to travel alone hereafter. Had you come out with me I think you would not have regretted it. The Rocky Mountains are glorious. Yours…”

Greely left the poverty of his New England youth to seek his fortune in New York City, working his way up from printer’s apprentice to publisher of the influential New York Tribune, which he founded in 1841 and which became one of the nation’s foremost newspapers with Greeley himself one of America’s great moral leaders. An intellectual and idealist, Greely promoted all manner of reform philosophies in his paper including pacifism, feminism, unionization, and regulation of labor (to the point of hiring Karl Marx as a Tribune foreign correspondent!). Among his particular editorial points of view, was the notion that the unemployed, immigrants and others seeking opportunity should settle in the American West. On the subject, he wrote “Fly, scatter through the country, go to the Great West, anything rather than remain here… the West is the true destination,” and, addressing Civil War veterans in 1865, “Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country,” (Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom, Williams).

In 1859, Greely himself went west to report on the need for a transcontinental railroad, promote the nascent Republican Party through speeches and lectures and publicize his newspaper, which one of his advance agents had reported “comes next to the Bible all through the West,” (“What Horace Greeley Saw; An Overland Journey From New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859, The New York Times).

From Kansas, Greeley, en route to California, boarded the newly established Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak express established in 1859 by Jones, Russell & Co., possibly the Russell mentioned in our letter. Unfortunately, at the beginning of June, the coach in which Greeley was riding plunged into a ravine and injured Greeley, the driver and his fellow passenger; it was the first accident suffered by the nascent stage coach line. Despite the incident, Greeley arrived, bruised and bandaged, in Denver, at the time a bourgeoning mining camp founded as part of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, which ran from 1858 through 1861, and which Greeley describes in detail in our letter. The trip from Kansas to Denver had taken 13 days and he spent 15 days in Denver before continuing his journey toward the coast. During his five-month-long journey across the continent, Greeley wrote “33 descriptive dispatches written along the way for his Tribune that constitute one of the most brilliant performances in the history of American journalism,” and which were, later, published together as An Overland Journey: From New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859, (ibid.).

Greeley remained inspired by what he saw of the land around Colorado’s South Platte and Cache la Poudre rivers. Showing that he was not merely paying lip service to the idea of westward expansion, Greely set about organizing a religious utopian colony in the Colorado Territory in 1869. More than 3,000 people replied to Greely’s advertisement for his Union Colony of Colorado (also known as the Greeley Colony and The Union Temperance Colony) of which 700 were selected as colonists. Its success, made possible by the construction of irrigation ditches, inspired some of the original colonists to found a second community upstream on the Poudre River, the Fort Collins Agricultural Colony, established in the fall of 1872. The Union Colony was eventually renamed Greeley, Colorado, as it is still known today. True to its temperance roots, it remained a dry town until 1972.

With a blind embossed image of a scroll and arrow in the upper left corner. Folded with scattered foxing and toning and in very good condition.

Following His Oft-Quoted Advice to “Go West,” the American Editor, Reformer, and Political Leader Reports on the Colorado Gold Mines and Much More: “The Rocky Mountains are glorious”

Signed by Horace Greeley

$2000 • item #21216

Just this once...
Please share your name and email address to receive:

We will not share your contact info