Yesterday, while reading of the build up to the US annexation of Texas, I found the following parenthetical comment about the newspaperman Horace Greeley.

(Greeley, who, with his slumped shoulders and flat face, looked rather like a frog, was the most widely read editorial writer of his generation.)

These Truths, Jill Lepore (pg 235)

Such an aside makes a man reach for his smartphone. Did the man really look like a frog?

I can’t say that I see it. I have questions about the hair, but I don’t see much of the frog in the man.

This certainly has more of the “forest creature” about it. It doesn’t even feel like the same person as the first photo. My questions about neck hair still stand. I can only presume that this was a distinguished style for men of a certain class, and I would like to hear more about it. Contemporaneous diary entries and private letters. That sort of thing.

Reading ahead on the Wikipedia, it turns out that Greeley would run for president against President Grant. He did not succeed, in no small part due to the cartoons of Thomas Nast. In the above example, we see Greeley depicted, not as a frog, but as some kind of lion. This seems much more appropriate and in line with his mane.

A reader should understand that they cannot assume rigorous fact checking in the non-fiction they find on the bookstore shelves. I have to wonder if the New Yorker would have let such a remark slide by so easily.