An Attempt To Persuade Greeley

Lincoln had a fractious relationship with Greeley, the founding editor of the pro-Republican New York Tribune. But, given that the Tribune’s circulation was the largest in the country, he could not afford to alienate its editor. Lincoln’s aide John Hay remarked that Greeley, a strident abolitionist, “grumbles because he is an honest old fanatic, and does not agree with the Administration; and all honest people honor him for his integrity, though they may differ by a world’s width from his views.” This letter shows Lincoln’s respectfulness toward Greeley and illustrates how, with deliberate care, the president sought to win over his most vociferous opponents by arguing for a gradual approach, avoiding acrimony when possible— “persuasively, and not menacingly” are key terms.