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Joseph Pulitzer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1885 – April 10, 1886
Preceded by John Hardy
Succeeded by Samuel Cox
Personal details
József Pulitzer

(1847-04-10)April 10, 1847
Makó, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire
Died October 29, 1911(1911-10-29) (aged 64)
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Katherine "Kate" Davis (1878–1911; his death; 7 children)
Occupation Publisher, philanthropist, journalist, lawyer
Net worth USD $30.6 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/1142nd of US GNP)
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/service Union Army
Years of service 1864–1865
Unit First Regiment, New York Cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Joseph J. Pulitzer (born József Pulitzer April 10, 1847 – October 29, 1911) was a newspaper publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World. He became a leading national figure in the Democratic Party and was elected congressman from New York. He crusaded against big business and corruption, and helped keep the Statue of Liberty in New York.

In the 1890s the fierce competition between his World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal caused both to develop the techniques of yellow journalism, which won over readers with sensationalism, crime and graphic horrors. The wide appeal reached a million copies a day and opened the way to mass-circulation newspapers that depended on advertising revenue (rather than cover price or political party subsidies) and appealed to readers with multiple forms of news, gossip, entertainment and advertising.

Today, his name is best known for the Pulitzer Prizes, which were established in 1917 as a result of his endowment to Columbia University. The prizes are given annually to recognize and reward excellence in American journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music and drama. Pulitzer founded the Columbia School of Journalism by his philanthropic bequest; it opened in 1912.

The New York World

Joseph Pulitzer

By 1883, Pulitzer had made a lot of money. In that year, he bought the New York World. That newspaper had been losing $40,000 a year. He paid $346,000 to Jay Gould, the owner. Pulitzer changed its focus to human-interest stories, scandal, and sensationalism. In 1885, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but resigned after a few months' service. He did not like politics . In 1887, he recruited the famous investigative journalist Nellie Bly. In 1895 the World introduced the popular Yellow Kid comic by Richard F. Outcault. This was the first newspaper comic printed with color. Under Pulitzer's leadership circulation grew from 15,000 to 600,000, making the New Your World the largest newspaper in the country.

School for journalism

In 1892, Pulitzer offered Columbia University's president, Seth Low, money to set up the world's first school of journalism. The university initially turned down the money. In 1902, Columbia's new president Nicholas Murray Butler was more receptive to the plan for a school and prizes, but it would not be until after Pulitzer's death that this dream would be fulfilled. Pulitzer left the university $2 million in his will, which led to the creation in 1912 of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism remains one of the most prestigious in the world.


Marble Bust of Joseph Pulitzer, Sr. by Auguste Rodin
Marble Bust of Joseph Pulitzer

While traveling aboard his yacht to his winter home at the Jekyll Island Club on Jekyll Island, Georgia in 1911, Pulitzer had his yacht stop in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. On October 29, 1911, Pulitzer listened to his German secretary read aloud about King Louis XI of France. As the secretary neared the end, Pulitzer said in German: "Leise, ganz leise" (English: "Softly, quite softly"), and died. His body was returned to New York for services, and he was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.

Legacy and honors

  • The U.S. Post Office issued a 3-cent stamp commemorating Joseph Pulitzer on the 1947 100th anniversary of his birth.
  • The Pulitzer Art Museum in Saint Louis was founded by his family's philanthropy and is named in their honor.
  • In 1989 Joseph Pulitzer was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
  • He is featured as a character in the Disney film Newsies (1992), in which he was played by Robert Duvall, and the Broadway stage production (Newsies).
  • In the 2014 historical novel, The New Colossus, by Marshall Goldberg, Joseph Pulitzer gives reporter Nellie Bly the assignment of investigating the death of poet Emma Lazarus.
  • The Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam was named after his grandson Herbert Pulitzer.

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