Joseph Pulitzer Additional Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

At the age of seventeen, Pulitzer ran away from his European home and sailed for the United States, where he enlisted in a cavalry unit. After the Civil War he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he became a reporter for a German-language daily. Naturalization as a citizen in March, 1867, permitted Pulitzer to participate in American politics and hold several minor political offices.

In 1878 Pulitzer purchased the St. Louis Dispatch and combined it with the St. Louis Post. In short order, he turned two failing newspapers into one whose profits quickly recovered the money that he borrowed to purchase them. Vigorous writing, extensive coverage of crime, and a series of “crusades” against corruption attracted readers and advertising revenue. In an unprecedented exposé, the Post-Dispatch published the tax returns of the city, showing that the wealthiest citizens paid the lowest personal property taxes. The paper also publicized a grand jury report on prostitution, listing the names of prominent citizens who rented houses to prostitutes. Other no-holds-barred crusades exposed a lottery racket, a horse-car monopoly, and an insurance fraud. Pulitzer and his editors made so many enemies that they needed to carry pistols for their own protection from those willing to use force to silence the paper.

By 1883 Pulitzer felt that he had outworn his welcome in St. Louis, so he moved to New York and purchased the money-losing...

(The entire section is 475 words.)