Horace Greeley, Napoleon Sarony, c. 1870

Lincoln’s Chief Critic

On August 20, 1862, Horace Greeley, editor and publisher of the New York Tribune, printed “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” an open letter to President Lincoln that harshly criticized his refusal to end slavery. Two days later, Greeley published Lincoln’s now-famous reply: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union… If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” Ironically, Lincoln had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation but he was waiting for a Union victory to make it public.