Horace Greeley 1811–1872

Unidentified photographer
Quarter-plate daguerreotype, c. 1850

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In an 1865 editorial, Horace Greeley, publisher of the New York Tribune, declared, “Go west, young man, go west.” Although this statement was probably first uttered by an Indiana journalist in 1851, it succinctly summarized the passion for westward expansion shared by many in the East.

Like other journalists of the day, including John O’Sullivan, who prophesied in 1845 that it was America’s “manifest destiny” to settle the entire continent, Greeley advocated the exploration and settlement of the West. In 1859 he traveled west by railroad and stagecoach, documenting his journey in a series of articles, one of which called for the construction of a transcontinental railroad.