July 30, 2016
July 30, 1859. Westbound Horace Greeley, the nervous and eccentric editor of the influential New York Tribune fretted. He had a speaking engagement in Placerville, California, and his stagecoach moved too slowly. At a Sierra telegraph station, he wondered whether he should advise of a possible delay. Greeley drew stage driver Hank Monk aside saying, "Driver, can you get me into Placerville this evening by 5 o'clock?" He warned Monk sternly, "Do not promise unless you are certain." Monk remarked quietly, "I'll get you there." Off went the coach on a downhill run. "There was Greeley, his bare head bobbing, sometimes on the back, and then on the front seat, sometimes in the coach, and then out," Monk recounted, "then holding on to whatever he could grab." Soon, Monk felt a hand on his back. "Driver," Greeley said, "I'm not particular for an hour or two!" Monk replied, "Horace, Keep your seat! I told you I would get you there by 5 o'clock, and by God, I'll do it." Of course he did. Greeley reflected on his "many bruises," and advised, "I cannot conscientiously recommend the route I have traveled to summer tourists in quest of pleasure."