kids encyclopedia robot

Joseph Pulitzer facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
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.

Early life

He was born as Pulitzer József (name order by Hungarian custom) in Makó, about 200 km south-east of Budapest, the son of Elize (Berger) and Fülöp Pulitzer (born Politzer). The Pulitzers were among several Jewish families living in the area and had established a reputation as merchants and shopkeepers. Joseph's father was a respected businessman.

In 1853, Fülöp Pulitzer was rich enough to retire. He moved his family to Pest, where he had the children educated by private tutors, and taught French and German. In 1858, after Fülöp's death, his business went bankrupt, and the family became impoverished. Joseph attempted to enlist in various European armies for work before emigrating to the United States.

Civil War service

Pulitzer tried to join the military but was rejected by the Austrian Army, he then tried to join the French Foreign Legion to fight in Mexico but was similarly rejected, and then the British Army where he was also rejected. He was finally recruited in Hamburg, Germany, to fight for the Union in the American Civil War in August 1864. Pulitzer could not speak English when he arrived in Boston Harbor in 1864 at the age of 17, his passage having been paid by Massachusetts military recruiters. Learning that the recruiters were pocketing the lion's share of his enlistment bounty, Pulitzer left the Deer Island recruiting station and made his way to New York. He was paid $200 to enlist in the Lincoln Cavalry on September 30, 1864. He was a part of Sheridan's troopers, in the 1st New York Cavalry Regiment in Company L, joining the regiment in Virginia in November 1864, and fighting in the Appomattox Campaign, before being mustered out on June 5, 1865. Although he spoke German, Hungarian, and French, Pulitzer learned little English until after the war, as his regiment was composed mostly of German immigrants.

Early career

After the war, Pulitzer moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the whaling industry, but found it was too boring for him. He returned to New York with little money. Flat broke, he slept in wagons on cobblestone side streets. He decided to travel by "side-door Pullman" (a freight boxcar) to St. Louis, Missouri. He sold his one possession, a white handkerchief, for 75 cents.

When Pulitzer arrived at the city, he recalled, "The lights of St. Louis looked like a promised land to me." In the city, his German was as useful as it was in Munich because of the large ethnic German population.

He worked as a waiter at Tony Faust, a famous restaurant on Fifth Street. Pulitzer spent his free time at the St. Louis Mercantile Library on the corner of Fifth and Locust, studying English and reading voraciously. In 1868, Pulitzer was admitted to the bar, but his broken English and odd appearance kept clients away. He struggled with the execution of minor papers and the collecting of debts. That year, when the Westliche Post needed a reporter, he was offered the job.

Entry to journalism

On December 9, 1878, Pulitzer bought the moribund St. Louis Dispatch and merged it with John Dillon's St. Louis Post, forming the St. Louis Post and Dispatch (soon renamed the Post-Dispatch) on December 12. With his own paper, Pulitzer developed his role as a champion of the common man, featuring exposés and a hard-hitting populist approach. The paper was considered a leader in the field of sensational journalism.

The circulation of the Post-Dispatch steadily rose during Pulitzer's early tenure (aided by the collapse of the city's other daily English-language paper, the Star). At the time of merger, the Post and Dispatch had a combined circulation of under 4,000. By the end of 1879, circulation was up to 4,984 and Pulitzer doubled the size of the paper to eight pages. By the end of 1880, circulation was up to 8,740. Circulation rose dramatically to 12,000 by March 1881 and to 22,300 by September 1882. Pulitzer bought two new presses and increased staff pay to the highest in the city, though he also crushed an attempt to unionize.

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.

Pulitzer Prize

In 1917, Columbia organized the awards of the first Pulitzer Prizes in journalism. The awards have been expanded to recognize achievements in literature, poetry, history, music, and drama.

Legacy and honors

  • The U.S. Post Office issued a 3-cent stamp commemorating Joseph Pulitzer in 1947, the 100th anniversary of his birth.
  • The Pulitzer Arts Foundation 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) adapted from it which was produced in 2011.
  • In the 2014 historical novel, The New Colossus, by Marshall Goldberg, published by Diversion Books, 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.
  • Mount Pulitzer in Washington state is named for him

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Joseph Pulitzer para niños

kids search engine
Joseph Pulitzer Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.