Joseph Pulitzer

Joseph Pulitzer

Makó, Csongrád, Hungary
Death 29 Oct 1911 (aged 64)
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
Burial Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Plot Evergreen Plot, Sections 48, 49
Memorial ID 842 · View Source
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Journalist, Publisher, US Congressman. He is best known as the founder of the Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious awards in American journalism. Along with William Randolph Hearst, Pulitzer created a new and controversial style of American journalism, dedicated to crusading on the side of people and as a spokesman for democracy. Previously the press usually spoke for the establishment and moneyed interests, but this new strain of journalism supported labor, attacked trusts and monopolies, and exposed scandal, fraud and corruption, both public and private. At a time when journalism was not considered a respectable way of earning a living, Pulitzer was committed to raising the standards of the profession. Joseph Pulitzer was born in Mako, Hungary, the eldest son of a prosperous Jewish grain merchant. Pulitzer was educated in private schools in Budapest. After unsuccessful attempts to join the military, in 1864 he emigrated from Hungary to the United States, landing at Castle Garden practically penniless. The Austrian army had rejected him for his weak eyesight, and the French Foreign Legion did not want him, but when he got to America the Union Army was not so choosy. He served as a Private in Company I, 1st New York Volunteer "1st Lincoln" Cavalry from November 1864 until the end of the Civil War. After the war, he settled in St. Louis, where he worked as a mule tender, waiter and hack driver before studying English and law at the Mercantile Library. In 1868 he was recruited by Carl Schurz for his German-language daily, the "Westliche Post" where he excelled as a reporter. He participated in politics and was admitted to the bar, but he practiced only a short time. Pulitzer joined the Republican Party and was elected to the Missouri State Assembly in 1869. In 1872 Pulitzer was able to purchase the "St. Louis Post" for $3,000. This venture was a success and six years later was able to buy the "St. Louis Dispatch" for $2,700. He combined the two newspapers and launched crusades against government corruption, lotteries, gambling, and tax fraud. In 1874, he was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C., where he also worked as a correspondent for the "New York Sun." By 1883 Pulitzer was a wealthy man and was able to purchase the "New York World" for $346,000 from financier Jay Gould. The newspaper, which had been losing $40,000 a year, was transformed into the first tabloid-style journal that concentrated on human-interest stories, scandal and sensational material. Pulitzer also promised to use the paper to "expose all fraud and sham, fight all public evils and abuses, and to battle for the people with earnest sincerity." In 1885 he was elected as a Republican to represent New York's 9th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, but he resigned a year later in 1886. Two years later he founded the "Evening World" in New York. At the age of forty, he had become essentially blind, but he still continued to run his press empire for twenty-two more years. In 1890s Pulitzer had a circulation war with William Randolph Hearst. Using strong headlines, sensational news events, cartoons and other means they especially tried to attract working class readers and immigrants. The "World" increased its circulation with a comic supplement and in 1895 the first full-page original 'Yellow Kid' cartoon in color appeared, created by the cartoonist R. F. Outcault. Pulitzer continued to promote investigative reporting and in 1909 the "New York World" exposed a fraudulent payment of $40 million by the United States to the French Panama Canal Company. The federal government indicted Pulitzer for criminally libeling President Theodore Roosevelt and the banker John Pierpont "J.P." Morgan. However, Pulitzer won an important victory for the freedom of the press when the courts dismissed the indictments. Pulitzer died of heart failure aboard his yacht, the "Liberty," on October 29, 1911. Through his will, he left $2 million to establish the Columbia University School of Journalism, and following the example of Alfred B. Nobel, he established a foundation to award annual Pulitzer Prizes for literature, drama, music, and journalism. Since 1922 Pulitzer Prizes have also been awarded for cartoonists.

Bio by: Edward Parsons

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 842
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Pulitzer (10 Apr 1847–29 Oct 1911), Find a Grave Memorial no. 842, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .