HORACE GREELEY AS A BOY
HORACE GREELEY was the son of a poor farmer. He was
always fond of books. He learned to read almost as soon
as he could talk. He could read easy books when he was
three years old. When he was four, he could read any
book that he could get.
He went to an old-fashioned school. Twice a day all the
children stood up to spell. They were in two classes.
Little Horace was in the class with the grown-up young
people. He was the best speller in the class. It was
funny to see the little midget at the head of this
class of older people.
 But he was only a little boy in his feelings. If he
missed a word, he would cry. The one that spelled a
word that he missed would have a right to take the head
of the class. Sometimes when he missed, the big boys
would not take the head. They did not like to make the
little fellow cry. He was the pet of all the school.
People in that day were fond of spelling. They used to
hold meetings at night to spell. They called these
At a spelling school two captains were picked out.
These chose their spellers. Then they tried to see
which side could beat the other at spelling.
Little Horace was always chosen first. The side that
got him got the best speller in the school. Sometimes
the little fellow would go to sleep. When it came his
turn to spell, somebody would wake him up. He would
rub his eyes, and spell the word. He would spell it
When he was four or five years old, he would lie under
a tree, and read. He would lie there, and forget all
about his dinner or his supper. He would not move until
somebody stumbled over him or called him.
People had not found out how to burn kerosene oil in
lamps then. They used candles. But poor people like the
Greeleys could not afford to burn
 many candles.
Horace gathered pine knots to read by at night.
He would light a pine knot. Then he would throw it on
top of the large log at the back of the fire. This
would make a bright flickering
Horace would lay all the books he wanted on the hearth.
Then he would lie down by them. His head was toward the
fire. His feet were drawn up out of the way.
The first thing that he did was to study all his
lessons for the next day. Then he would read other
books. He never seemed to know when anybody came or
went. He kept on with his reading.
 His father did not want him to read too late. He was
afraid that he would hurt his eyes. And he wanted to
have him get up early in the morning to help with the
work. So when nine o'clock came, he would call,
"Horace, Horace, Horace!" But it took many callings to
When he got to bed, he would say his lessons over to
his brother. He would tell his brother what he had been
reading. But his brother would fall asleep while Horace
Horace liked to read better than he liked to work. But
when he had a task to do, he did it faithfully. His
brother would say, "Let us go fishing." But Horace
would answer, "Let us get our work done first."
Horace Greeley's father grew poorer and poorer. When
Horace was ten years old, his land was sold. The family
were now very poor. They moved from New
Hampshire. They settled in Vermont.
They lived in a poor little
Horace had to work hard like all the rest of the
family. But he borrowed all the books he could get.
Sometimes he walked seven miles to borrow a book.
A rich man who lived near the Greeleys used to lend
books to Horace. Horace had grown tall. His hair was
white. He was poorly dressed. He was a strange-looking
 One day he went to the house of the rich man to borrow
books. Someone said to the owner of the house, "Do you
lend books to such a fellow as that?"
But the gentleman said, "That boy will be a great man
This made all the company laugh. It seemed funny that
anybody should think of this poor boy becoming a great
man. But it came true. The poor white-headed boy came
to be a great man.
Horace Greeley learned all that he could learn in the
country schools. When he was thirteen, one teacher said
to his father—
"Mr. Greeley, Horace knows more than I do. It is not of
any use to send him to school any more."