Pulitzer, Joseph


1889 check from the the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and New York World publisher, left money to create Columbia University School of Journalism and Pulitzer Prizes



Autograph ID: 5372
Condition: Very good, small tear at top left corner skillfully repaired
Description: “(1847-1911) Hungarian-American Jewish publisher of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the New York World, introduced techniques of “new journalism” to the newspapers he acquired in the 1880s. He crusaded against big business and corruption. In the 1890s the fierce competition between his World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal opened the way to mass-circulation newspapers that depended on advertising revenue and appealed to readers with multiple forms of news, entertainment and advertising. Today, he is best known for the Pulitzer Prizes, established by money he willed to Columbia University, as was the Columbia School of Journalism. Pulitzer arrived in Boston in 1864, and was paid to enroll in the 1st New York Lincoln Cavalry (mostly German immigrants) where he served for 8 months. He spoke Hungarian, French and German, but almost no English. He moved to St. Louis and spent his free time at the St. Louis Mercantile Library studying English and reading voraciously. Soon after, he wrote an account of a fraud accepted by the Westliche Post, co-edited by Carl Schurz, evidently his first published news story. In 1867, he became an American citizen. He still frequented the Mercantile Library, often played chess and Schurz noticed his aggressive style. Pulitzer admired Schurz as an inspiring emblem of American democracy and of the success attainable by a foreign-born citizen through his own energies and skills. In 1868, when the Westliche Post needed a reporter, he was offered the job. Pulitzer displayed a flair for reporting. On Dec. 14, 1869, he attended a Republican meeting where party leaders needed a candidate to fill a vacancy in the state legislature. They nominated him unanimously, and he won election, serving as a state representative in Jefferson City from Jan. 5, 1870. He served for only 2 years. He became managing editor of the Westliche Post, and obtained a proprietary interest. In 1872, he was a delegate to the Cincinnati convention of the Liberal Republican Party that nominated Horace Greeley for the presidency. However, the attempt at electing Greeley as president failed, the party collapsed, and Pulitzer, disillusioned with Republican Party corruption, switched to the Democratic Party. In 1880, he was a delegate from Missouri to the Democratic convention and a member of its platform committee. In 1872, Pulitzer purchased a share in the Westliche Post for $3,000, and then sold his stake in the paper for a profit in 1873. In 1879, he bought both the St. Louis Dispatch, and the St. Louis Post, merging the two as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch., still St. Louis’ daily newspaper. Pulitzer developed his role as a champion of the common man, featuring exposés and a hard-hitting populist approach. In 1878 Pulitzer married and would have 7 children. The family was involved in the operation of the St. Louis paper until April 1995, when Joseph Pulitzer IV resigned from the paper in a management dispute. In 1883, Pulitzer purchased the New York World from Jay Gould, and to raise circulation, emphasized human-interest stories, scandal, and sensationalism. In 1884, he was elected to Congress from New York, and served from March 4, 1885-April 10, 1886, resigning due to pressure of journalistic duties. In 1887, he recruited famous investigative journalist Nellie Bly. In 1895 the World introduced the immensely popular The Yellow Kid comic by Richard F. Outcault, 1st color.newspaper comic. Under Pulitzer’s leadership, circulation grew from 15,000 to 600,000, making it the largest newspaper in the country. In 1895, Wm. Randolph Hearst purchased the rival New York Journal from Pulitzer’s brother, Albert. The two embarked on a circulation war. This competition with Hearst, particularly coverage before and during the Spanish-American War, linked Pulitzer’s name with yellow journalism. Pulitzer’s World featured illustrations, advertising, and a culture of consumption for working men. Crusades for reform and news of entertainment were the two main staples for the World. Before the demise of the paper in 1931, many of the best reporters in America worked for it. His health problems (blindness, depression, and acute noise sensitivity) caused him to withdraw from daily management of the newspaper, but he continued to manage the paper from his New York, Jekyll Island, Georgia, and Bar Harbor, Maine homes. Pulitzer’s son took over administrative responsibility in 1907. In 1892, Pulitzer offered Columbia University president Seth Low, money to set up the world’s first school of journalism. Columbia initially turned down the money, but n 1902, Columbia’s new president, Nicholas Murray Butler, was more receptive to the plan for a school and journalism prizes, but it would not be until after Pulitzer’s death that this dream would be fulfilled. Pulitzer left the university $2,000,000 in his will. In 1912 the school founded the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. This followed the Missouri School of Journalism, founded at the University of Missouri with Pulitzer’s urging. Both schools remain among the most prestigious in the world. In 1917, Columbia organized the awards of the first Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, the awards later expanded to recognize achievements in literature, poetry, history, music, and drama. The Pulitzer Museum of Art in Saint Louis was founded by his family’s philanthropy and is named in their honor.

Frameable 3 x 8 ¼ partly printed DS completed in Pulitzer’s hand, St. Moritz (Switzerland), September 3 1889, counter check (printed by Kones & Tobey Stationers, New York) to State Savings Association of St. Louis, paying $15,000 to American Exchange National Bank, signed by Pulitzer as President. Steel vignette of a hand pulling a curtain at lower left. Pulitzer, in ill health, was in St. Moritz for medical treatment. An Uncommon autograph, scarce check!”
Type: Check

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