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JOSEPH PULITZER 

FRONT PAGE PIONEER 

April 10, 1847 - October 29, 1911 



JOSEPH 
PULITZER 



front page pioneer 



B Y 

IRIS NOBLE 




JULIAN MESSNER, INC. NEW YORK 



Published by Julian Messner, Inc. 
8 West 40 Street, New York 18 

Published simultaneously in Canada 
by The Copp Clark Publishing Co. Limited 

Iris Noble, 1957 

Printed in the United States of America 
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 57-6837 



TO 

HOLLY 



one 



Boston Harbor was midnight dark. Only the lanterns swinging 
from the tall masts of ships gave occasional glimmers of light on the 
waters. Portholes were curtained. This was 1864 and wartime. From 
the docks the watchman could see only these pinpoint lights of the 
lanterns, the gray outlines of sailing ships moored at the piers and 
the ghostly blur of others anchored far out in the port. 

Silent as a cat, the boy slid over the side of the big, full-rigged 
sailing ship halfway out in the harbor. The rope burned his hands 
going down. The shock of the water made him gasp. It was bitterly 
cold, but he forced himself to dive down deep, and stay down, 
swimming underwater like an eel until he was quite a way from 
the ship. Then his head came up and he sighted for the dock. 

Along the worn wharf planks the watchman plodded. His eyes 
were old. The weather was warm; it pressed down on his eyelids 
the way his heavy overcoat closed about his old, tired body. If it 
had not been so, if he had not walked his rounds half asleep, he 
might have seen the boy swimming not more than fifty yards off- 
shore now and heading straight for the dock. And that would have 
been a strange enough sight, an alarming sight in wartimeto 
have sent the watchman hallooing for the militia to come with 
guns in their hands! 

The boy knew this. He was trying to swim quietly, letting the 
tide carry him in. He used a breast stroke that kept his arms under 

7 



the water; once in a while his legs would kick out with a violent 
splash. He would float then, for a while, fear clutching his cold body 
like a spasm and stopping his breath, waiting for the shout from the 
dock or the pistol shot to come zinging out over his head. 

He had already come a long way. It wasn't much farther. He 
could see the gas jets from the lampposts spaced at intervals along 
the dockway. If he could just hold out 

But for all that the tide was doing most of the work he was 
desperately, frantically tired. An oilskin bag around his neck held 
his trousers and shoes. Its weight was like a living thing that pulled 
him down and slued him around and fought against him and 
against the lift of the waves. Cold had penetrated deep into his 
bones. It was beginning to sap the strength of his youthful, unde- 
veloped muscles. He gasped for breath, swallowed salt water and 
choked; the yellowish wooden pier ahead of him bobbed in his sight 
and was gone as the waves swept over his head. 

He would never reach it! Should he call for help? Take a chance 
that he would be rescued and not shot at? But that would mean be- 
ing sent back to his ship. He would not go back; it would be better 
to take a chance of being heard while trying to make it. 

Now he was threshing wildly, forcing his tired body through the 
water. He couldn't wait for the tide. The trembling and flutter of 
the muscles in the calves of his legs might turn into a cramp. He 
churned the water, cutting through the waves. 

The watchman's head came alert. He heard a splash, then an- 
other. He peered out over the rail, but directly over his head a gas 
lamp flickered and he could make out nothing. The gleam of a 
white arm and shoulder seemed to him a phosphorescent plume in 
the shadow of a wave. "A fish," he said, shrugging away the sound 
of the splashes. 

Luckily for the boy, now only ten yards offshore and flailing the 
water as he came, the silence of the night was riffled with innumer- 
able sounds: the creak of ships tugging at hawser and anchor, the 



barking of dogs, the sighing of wind through mast and rigging, the 
stamp of horses in the dockyard stables. The irregular beat of his 
arms plowing through waves was obscured by these other sounds 
and the watchman dozed on. 

Ten yards. Six five threeand just as the boy's right leg 
cramped in intolerable pain, his left one hit something solid. He 
clawed at it with both hands, slipped down, found it again, getting 
splinters in one wrist from the raw water-soaked lumber. A wave 
raised him and threw him over a crossbar. It was the pier! 

He rested a moment, taking deep gulps of air, letting the pre- 
cious air pump into his lungs. He found he could hump his body 
over the crossbar. With one hand he massaged the knotted muscles 
of his right leg until he felt the cramp relax. Then he slowly pulled 
himself up the wooden post. His head came even with the dock 
floor. There was a thud of hobnailed boots to the right of him; the 
watchman's legs came into view. The boy ducked his head, lis- 
tened to the retreating footsteps as they passed and continued their 
patrol, raised his head once more to be sure that the other s back 
was to him, then he was up and over the rail. He ran quickly to a pile 
of kegs and barrels. There he crouched until the shapeless overcoat 
and the bobbing lantern had once more turned and passed him. 
This time his sprint took him clear of the wharf and onto the dirt 
road to the stables. He tripped and fell, almost senseless, into a huge 
mound of hay by the barn door. 

There he lay. He was unable to move. Deep in this hay he was 
safe. 

When at last he could move and his strength had returned, his 
first feeling was one of thanksgiving, his second of triumph. He 
could hardly believe he was alive, but he was! Oh, there'd be a hue 
and cry for him when it was discovered he was gone, but that 
would not be until morning and by morning he would be miles 
away from this city with its odd name of Bost-ton. 

To a certain agent on board that immigrant ship, this boy, young 



Joseph Politzer, represented five hundred dollars in cash, bounty 
money, to be paid the moment he delivered the seventeen-year-old 
recruit to a certain sergeant of the Union Army in Boston. 

Joseph had discovered the financial deal when the ship was ten 
days out of Hamburg, Germany. One day he had overheard the 
agent saying to the captain as they walked past his favorite bulk- 
head hiding place: 

"Five hundred dollars apiece I gets for them. Sergeant Mackay 
pays it on the barrelhead. This is my fourth trip. One more and I 
can settle down in Hamburg, a rich man. Every wealthy man's son 
in New England is looking for a substitute to send to war in his 
place. There ain't enough substitutes in America, so I dig them up 
in Europe." 

The captain swore in good lusty German. "Donnerwetter, it's a 
dirty business all the same! I don't approve of one man hiring an- 
other to do his fighting for him. And if a man's going to risk his life 
being a substitute in somebody else's war, he should at least get the 
five hundred for himself." 

"Don't you go putting them ideas in their heads, Captain!" The 
agent was alarmed. 

Joseph waited until they left. Then he ran to the steerage. He 
rounded up the other ten recruits and told them what he had heard. 
But none of them was as indignant as he. Hiring substitutes was 
not uncommon in the armies of German princes; they were more 
anxious to get to the golden land of America than they were cau- 
tious of their rights. 

"If we all stick together/' Joseph raged at them, "we can prove 
this is illegal! That paper we signed was written in English and 
none of us could read it. He read it to us. He never said a word 
about collecting money on us. He said the Union Army needed us 
so badly they were willing to pay our passage across. I want to join 
the Army. I want to fight slavery. But no one is going to buy and 
sell me, either!" 

10 



His cabinmates were alarmed at Joseph, not at the agent. "Here! 
you'll be getting us all into trouble. We signed that paper. We 
can go to jail if we don't do what he says/' 

"How? If we all stick together and tell this Sergeant Mackay he 
has no right to" 

They crowded around him, arguing. "We can't speak a word of 
English. You think they'll take our word against his? We need 
him we don't know where to go or what to do. The soldiers will 
turn us over to the police or ship us back!'* 

Joseph saw it was no use. He would have to go alone. But they 
were probably right about one thing: the Boston soldiers were 
probably in business with the agent and they would listen to none 
of the arguments of a boy. He would have to run away much 
farther to New York. That was the only other city he had heard 
of in America. 

So here he lay on the warm, dry pile of hay and he just wished 
he could see that agent's face in the morning! Outwitted! Joseph 
felt like laughing. He was young and that desperate, fearful swim 
was soon crowded out of his mind by his triumph. He was a free 
man, free in America instead of tagging humbly behind a crooked 
agent like a piece of merchandise for sale. So what if he didn't 
speak the language and was a foreigner here? What if he was all 
alone? Hadn't he already traveled all alone from Budapest to 
Vienna to Hamburg and now across the ocean? 

That reminded him of something. Quickly he unrolled the oil- 
skin bag. The shoes and trousers in it were damp and spotted by 
water that had leaked in, but yes! the precious thing inside was 
safe and dry. He pulled out the tiny miniature in its picture frame 
and held it to his cheek. It was too dark to see her beautiful face 
but for the moment he had the real sensation that his mother's 
cheek was dose to his and her smiling mouth brushed his. 

It was still dark when he slipped through the streets of the city, 

11 



keeping to the shadows. By sheer luck he found a southwesterly 
road out of it. An early-rising fanner stopped to give him a lift. 

Joseph hesitated just a second before jumping up to the wagon 
seat. "New York?" he asked, pointing ahead, 

The farmer nodded. "To New York? Sure, it will take you to 
New York, if that's where you're going. But you have a long way to 
go, youngster, and you don't look much like you're fixed for the 
trip. Where's your knapsack? Haven't got a satchel, even? You're 
wet, boy! wet all the way through." The big, burly farmer flicked 
the team of horses lightly with his whip to set them briskly moving, 
then he turned to study his strange passenger more closely. 

'Well, answer me. How come you're wet and walkin' down here 
this hour of the morning? Are you a bound boy running away? An 
apprentice running away from your master? Answer me!" 

Joseph couldn't understand the words but he recognized the 
threatening tone. This could be trouble. 

"My name is Joseph Politzer. I thank you for giving me this ride 
and for the courtesy you have shown me, but I have done nothing 
wrong. I can walk. I am going to New York to join your army. The 
Union Army. To fight in the Union Army." And with that he 
started to clamber out of the wagon. 

"Hold on!" the farmer yanked him back. "Where you goin'?" 
Out of the unintelligible language of the boy's words, he had recog- 
nized a couple Army Union Army. "You're a Dutchman, eh?" 
Joseph had spoken the German of his native Austria but to the 
driver of the wagon anyone who spoke that tongue was a Dutch- 
man, "Going to be a soldier, eh, lad? Runaway you be, I'll swear to 
that, but if it's for the Army I'll keep my mouth shut." He gave 
Joseph a resounding, encouraging slap on the back. "I've got a son 
of my own fighting down Pennsylvania way. You go help him, boy, 
and I'll take you as far as I can on the way." 

Reassured by the new warmth and friendliness of the man's tone, 
Joseph relaxed and looked about him. For the first time since he 

12 



had landed so unceremoniously on the shores of America he was 
free to take a good look at the country and savor his strange adven- 
ture. The dawn was faintly pink and golden in the sky; mist eddied 
in fine, steaming wraiths from the hollows but as the pale dawn 
light touched it, it filtered through and made each dew-laden blade 
of grass and leaf of maple and elm translucent with shining pearl 
and green and gold. The wagon rounded a bend and suddenly there 
was light enough for them to see a white house with green shutters, 

"Such a pretty house!" he exclaimed in German. 

"Not hows, boy. House. House. Say house/' 

Joseph repeated: "House, House." It gave him an idea. He 
could start right now learning to speak English and his new friend 
could help him. 

For the next ten miles he asked questions incessantly, turning 
and bouncing in the seat to point: "Was ist das?" He wanted to 
know the name of everything: stone wall, tree, bush, dog, cat, 
village, store. "Store, store, store/* he would chant, then eagerly 
point to the next thing, a thin, white-steepled church: "Was ist 
das?" 

Finally the farmer was exhausted. "Hold on, boy! Give that 
tongue of yours a rest. Here" he broke open his own breakfast in 
the brown paper parcel and shoved cold bacon and hard-boiled 
eggs and a huge wedge of apple pie at Joseph. "Here. Eat this and 
stop talking for a minute. Never saw such a one for questions, 
Makes a man go dizzy, he does, with his wasisdasl Never thought 
Fd turn schoolteacher at my age. No no!" as he saw Joseph's 
mouth start to frame a question, full as it was with pie. "Be quiet 
for a while. Eatl" 

His gesture was plain. Frustrated, Joseph sank back on his wagon 
seat, eating in hungry bites and letting his eyes soak up the strange 
scenery around him. 

He was used to farm country. The little town of Mak6, Hungary, 
his birthplace, was the center of grainland, and even though he had 

13 



lived most of his life in the city of Budapest there had always been 
family picnics and strolls through the woods and fields near by. 

This landscape of America was different. Some of the trees and 
shrubs were familiar to him but many were strange. He liked the 
giant elms and the hedges of fiery-tipped sumac, but what he liked 
best were the neat, stone-walled farms. The peasants here, he de- 
cided, lived better than in the poor, thatched cottages at home. At 
the outskirts of a town a rich carriage whirled past them. Joseph's 
farmer raised up and yelled angrily after the carriage because its 
driver, in his thoughtless haste, had showered dust over the wagon. 
At home in Austria, thought the boy, the farmer would have edged 
over into the ditch to show his humbleness before any rich man. 

The towns he did not like so well. Here was the same picture he 
had seen all over Europe: a few great houses on the hillside, below 
them the long, ugly mill on the river with a cluster of shacks 
around it for the workers to live in. 

Before he left home Joseph had not thought much about these 
things. The Politzers had been a prosperous family in Budapest 
Joseph's father, a merchant, had given his family comforts and even 
a little luxury. Not until his death, until his mother had remarried 
and a stepfather had come into the home, had Joseph known any 
unhappiness; not until he had decided to leave, because of the con- 
stant quarreling with that stepfather, had Joseph known any such 
thing as poverty. He had left home with money in his pocket, spent 
it recklessly, carelessly, and when it was gone he had found that 
innkeepers who smiled at him with a full purse, kicked him out 
into the streets when his pockets were empty. There had only been 
a few coins left when he had met the recruiting agent. 

Now all this was behind him. First he would be a soldier, with a 
soldier's pay, then when the war was over he could make his for- 
tune. Everyone had told him America was the place for that. It was 
big, raw, new land where luck favored the bold and the daring. 
He could well believe it was true. Joseph laughed out loud. Hadn't 

14 



he been smart to get rid of that agent's bargain? And wasn't he 
here, free and his own master? The very first person he had met in 
America had been kind to him, had given him a ride and shared 
his food with him. Huddled in the horse blanket the fanner had 
placed over his wet shoulders Joseph grinned happily. "This was a 
wonderful country! "House. Dog. Mable dree/* he murmured to 
himself. "Dree-tree. House. Store." 

In sheer exuberance he waved a hand at the blacksmith as they 
passed the open smithy where the fire glowed and the horses 
stomped outside, waiting to be shod. 

While Joseph's eyes were on the scene around them, the farmer 
studied his passenger with curiosity. He couldn't miss the excite- 
ment in the boy's bright blue eyes and the older man smiled to him- 
self in sympathy. He could still remember his own feelings of ad- 
venture when he was this one's age. But what a funny-looking 
scarecrow he was! All wrists and bony elbows and knobby knees 
and a skinny face that seemed to jut out in forehead and nose and 
jut back the other way in mouth and chin. His hair was long and 
black and hung dankly, its ends curling along his high cheekbcmes. 
"Hope he knows what he's doing and where he's going. He'd better 
get to his friends quick, or then city thieves will steal the linings 
right out of his pockets. They'll know him for a greenhorn the 
minute he opens his mouth." 

He would have been horrified to know that the boy had not one 
single acquaintance or friend or relative in the whole of the United 
States. 

They reached the village which was the end of the wagon's jour- 
ney. The farmer led Joseph to a fork in the road and pointed the 
way. 

"New York," he pointed. "Keep right on that and you'll make it. 
Take care of yourself, son." He gripped the thin shoulder with his 
big hand and gave the youngster a friendly shake. In his own lan- 

15 



guage Joseph thanked the kindly benefactor over and over again 
and apologized for leaving the blanket so wet. 

The farmer was touched by the warmth of the gratitude and was 
moved by a feeling of fatherly pity. A brave, good kid-going off 
like that on his own! Mixed in with both the pity and the admira- 
tion was an uncontrollable desire to laugh. The boy looked so odd, 
standing there in the road, talking his strange lingo! His suit had 
dried and shrunk on the long, thin, ungainly frame; even when the 
suit was new it had been cut to a fashion unknown in these parts 
and the jacket was too short, the sleeves too tight, the trousers al- 
most skin fitting. They weren't anything that an American boy 
would wear. And when Joseph, remembering the etiquette his 
father had taught him, swung his long arms around in a great, 
sweeping, awkward bow, bobbing his head up and down, it was 
too much for the farmer. He turned away to squeeze his laughter 
into a choking wheeze. 

Happily, Joseph had no idea of this. He bowed once again in 
farewell and then hurried down the road. As he went he whisded 
a gay Hungarian folk song. 

It took him nearly a week to reach New York but the journey 
was surprisingly easy. He had walked many of the miles, been 
given a few lifts, slept in haylofts and farmhouses, paying for his 
lodging by chopping wood or carrying pails of water from the 
pump for the housewife's kitchen. He had improved his knowledge 
of English and could say such simple phrases as "Thank you." 
'Work? Any work to do?" "This way, New York?" 

The big city, when he arrived there, did not frighten or impress 
him. It was not nearly as great or as elegant as the old cities of 
Europe he had known no big cathedrals here, or castles or fortres- 
ses with turreted stone walls to menace the people. There were as 
many dirt streets as there were cobblestoned ones, more buildings of 
wood than of stone. He saw a few tall, stately homes some streets 
of wealth and many of stores and factories, many more of crowded 

16 



tenement dwellings. There was no age here, no mellowness, no 
grandeur. But there was a rush and a crowding and a bustle and 
hurry about the people in the streets and in the construction of new 
houses, new buildings all over the place, that he liked. He liked the 
quick way people talked. He liked the feeling of growth. New 
York, like himself, was young and alive. 

Again the magical words Union Army protected him. A grocery 
clerk pointed the way down the street; a woodseller stopped to 
push him in the right direction; a motherly-looking woman fished a 
paper and pencil out of her deep purse to draw him a rude map. 
Finally he reached City Hall Park and knew he was in the right 
place. 

All along the green edge of the park were recruiting shacks. Each 
represented a regiment and each had its own recruiting sergeant or 
corporal planted outside the door, enticing or bullying the young 
men as they passed to join their particular outfit. 

Joseph hesitated as he passed each one. Which should he join? 

Then he saw the banner: Lincoln Cavalry. Almost the only name 
he knew and could spell in America was that of Abraham Lincoln* 
It was because of reading about Lincoln that Joseph had wanted so 
much to come to America and fight in this war. And when the re- 
cruiting sergeant spoke to him in German in the language that 
was spoken in Austria-Hungary as well as in Germany it seemed 
to him a miracle. 

"Can you ride a horse, son?" the sergeant yelled at him. 

Joseph's heart gave a bounding leap. Could he ride a horse! It 
was the thing he could do best and that he loved most! That must 
be what that word cavalry meant a horse troop. This was surely 
the place for him. 

'Is this do you want enlistments?" he asked nervously, 

"Come in, boy!" a beefy hand propelled Joseph inside the door, 
"Come in and talk this over. You want to fight for this country, 
don't you? Just got off the boat, eh? and eager to show how good 

17 



an American you can be. Well, you came to the right place. All the 
men in the Lincoln are good German stock; the company was or- 
ganized by Germans Americans now and you'll find them look- 
ing out for you like your own brothers." 

There were catcalls and laughs from sergeants in near-by booths. 

"Whatya dragging in off the street now, Schmidt? Gets all the 
foreigners, the Lincoln does they can have 'em if that one's eigh- 
teen then I'm eighty if they don't treat you right, sonny, you come 
over here" 

Sergeant Schmidt firmly closed the door against the good- 
natured bantering. He placed Joseph across the desk from himself. 

"Your name?" 

"Joseph Politzer." 

The sergeant made such an illegible scrawl that Joseph was to 
go through his entire military life as Joseph Pouletzes. Protests did 
no good at all; he was called Pouletzes until after his discharge and 
at that time he changed it again to spell the way it sounded from 
Politzer to Pulitzer. 

"Age?" 

"Seventeen." He added: "I was born April 10, 1847." 

The sergeant made it eighteen for the record. 'Tour father's 
name? And occupation?" 

"Philip Politzer, merchant. But he's dead." Joseph swallowed 
quickly. "My stepfather, his name is Max Blau." 

"Mother?" 

"Her name was Louise Berger before she married my father." 

"Any other dose relatives?" 

"My brother Albert. My older brother and my sister Lma died 
a few years ago. There's just Albert and me left." 

"Nationality?" 

"My father was part Magyar, part Jewish. My mother was Ger- 
man. I was raised a Catholic because my mother wished it." 

Sergeant Schmidt pursed his lips in a silent whistle. Almost the 

18 



entire German regiment were Protestant Lutherans; they hated 
Catholics; they looked down on Austrian Magyars and they de- 
spised Jews. 

"Where were you born?" 

"In a little town called Mak6. But when I was six years old 
we moved from there to Budapest, Hungary." 

The officer nodded reminiscently. "I've been in Austria-Hun- 
gary. I know Budapest well. Beautiful city. The trees on the 
avenues, the Danube River running between Buda and Pest" 

A terrible thing happened to Joseph not so terrible except that 
it wounded his youthful pride. At the mention of the name a 
homesickness for Budapest and for his family welled up in his 
throat so that he couldn't speak. Tears threatened him. All his 
newly acquired manhood crumpled. He fought not to show it, but 
the mention of Budapest brought on such a wave of longing and 
loneliness that he wanted to put his head down on the scarred, 
battered old desk and cry. A thousand pictures rushed into his 
mind: the wide, beautiful brown Danube, the narrow, tree-lined, 
cobblestoned streets, the century-old houses. His small self at eight 
years walking with his big, wonderful father down Andrassy 
Street into the market place. The exciting smells of the market 
the ripe smell of apples, the woodsy smell of mushrooms still dirty 
and damp from the forest earth where they had been gathered, 
the vinegary smell of pickles in tubs. The sight of fat plucked 
geese hanging to beams. The pretty singsong of the flower girls 
rising above the noise and the babble and the clamor. And then 
when he was too tired to walk he was carried home, to be gathered 
up in the arms of his beautiful mother and comforted with warm 
krapfen, the delicious doughnuts that Lissa, the cook, made so well. 

Memories came like little slivers into his mind to prick him: 
Albert and himself trudging off to school in their short trousers 
and their round school caps. What a distance those four squares to 
the gymnasium had seemed then! Now he was thousands of miles 

19 



away. Albert was still at school there, still coming home to the 
beautiful mother, still eating krapjen while he was 

'What did you do run away?" the serogeant asked. He had 
seen the deep emotion darkening Joseph's face and the effort he 
was making to keep himself under control. 

"No. Not exactly," taking a deep breath. "My father died and 
my mother married again, a friend of the family's. Max Blau. We 
got along all right, I guess, but Iit wasn't the same. I couldn't 
get used to having him there or calling him father. And after my 
father's death there wasn't as much money as before and it was 
needed for Albert's schooling. I asked them to let me go; they 
thought I was going to enlist in the German Army. My mother 
didn't like it" there was no need to tell how his mother had 
pleaded with him not to go "but I was determined. And when 
I got to Hamburg everybody was talking about the war in America 
and it seemed like a good idea to come here." 

The sergeant wasn't interested in all these details. The kid's 
tongue went as fast as a cat lapping up milk, he decided, and he 
interrupted just as Joseph was getting well launched into an 
account of all he had seen and felt and heard since he had been 
in America. "Sign here," he said, curdy, shoving a paper across the 
desk. 

Joseph obediently picked up the pen. 

Then he remembered. For a moment a struggle went on inside 
him. Should he mention the five hundred dollars? Perhaps it 
would be unpatriotic; maybe they were all volunteers and no 
substitutes in the Lincoln Cavalry. But, on the other hand, maybe 
this officer was making money on enlistments, too. If anyone was 
going to profit by his risking his life it should be himself; the 
captain had said so. 

'"What about my five hundred dollars?" He was scared and the 
words came out in a bluster. 

Sergeant Schmidt turned a deep, brick red. "Five hundred-?" 

20 



He stuttered: "What what do you know about that? Who told 
you about substitutes? I thought you were right off the boat I 
thought you didn't" 

Joseph knew he had been right The sergeant's angry embarrass- 
ment gave him away. 

"Five hundred dollars. The substitute money, that's right. I 
don't sign until I get it. Why should you put that in your pocket 
when I'm the one who will be fighting? 1 ' 

"Now, that's no way to get along in the Army, starting right off 
to doubt a man's honesty." 

"It's no way to treat me as if I were a fool!" Joseph flashed back 
at him. He started for the door. 

There hadn't been an enlistment in the cavalry for nearly a week. 
A certain lieutenant was coming by soon and the sergeant knew 
he was in for a dressing down unless he could produce at least 
one new recruit He called Joseph back. Hiding his greed and his 
anger he put a comradely arm around the boy's shoulder. "Aw, 
come on, kid. I was only fooling. Sure you get the money. I was 
just having my little joke. I'll be sitting here in this nice warm 
shack while you're out there doing your duty. You don't think I'd 
cheat a brave soldier boy like you, do you?" 

Not until the receipt for the five hundred dollars was in Joseph's 
pocket would be sign. 

"Now you'll take the oath/' the sergeant told him. 

Joseph repeated, slowly, the solemn words that bound him to 
serve this America faithfully and well as a soldier. A thrill of 
joy went through him. They were fine, uplifting words and he 
repeated them with all his heart and soul. Now he was officially 
in the troop of the Lincoln Cavalry- 
Sergeant Schmidt's legs were planted far apart. His heavy fists 
were on his hips. The comradely look was gone; a terrible ferocity 
had taken its place. "And now you're in the Army for good! I'll 
teach you to get smart with me!" Whack! A heavy hand smacked 

21 



Joseph on one side of his head. Til teach you to talk back to your 
superiors!" he yelled, landing a blow on the other side of his head. 
'This may give you some idea of what you have to look for- 
ward to!" 

And his fist shot out and caught the surprised and unbelieving 
and helpless Joseph full in the mouth. He fell, sprawling, to his 
hands and knees. 



22 



two 



From in front of his own brown, patched tent Captain Ramsay 
could hear a corporal yelling for Private Pouletzes at the top of his 
voice. He was too far away to make out the words but there was 
no mistaking the fury in the tone or the curses that went with the 
hunt for Pouletzes. That boy was in trouble again! 

The captain gave an impulsive movement but Colonel Piel 
checked him with a hand on his arm. 

"Don't interfere, Ramsay." 

"But look, sir, I know you don't like the boy, either, but it's 
getting to be too much to take. Every day they play tricks on him 
and every day he has to take this kind of abuse from that corporal 
or from someone else. And if I'm not mistaken it's worse than 
abuse. When I saw him last night there was a deep bruise on the 
side of his cheek. He insisted he fell from his horse but we both 
knew better. Someone had beaten him. I can't stand by and see a 
nice kid like that" 

"A nice kid," the colonel commented dryly. "To you he seems 
an object of pity. You're not attached to this outfit. You're on 
special orders here. You like to play chess with him. Do you think 
because he can play chess he makes a good soldier? Ramsay, there 
are three things I ask of my men: fight well, obey orders, don't 
talk back to officers. Pouletzes hasn't had a chance to fight yet, 
but I'm sure if he could outtalk the enemy he'd win the war. All I 

23 



get are complaints about him: won't obey orders, argues about 
orders, questions orders and talks back! He's going to be broken, 
Ramsay, and if that means breaking him the hard way then that's 
the way it's going to be." 

"You forget one other thing. A cavalryman has to be able to ride 
well and you must admit, Colonel, that boy rides with the best." 

"I haven't forgotten," he said bitterly, "how well he rides. The 
first time I saw him he was riding in maneuvers. I was impressed. 
IVe never seen a better rider. He sat that big bay stallion as if he 
were part of the horse. I did something I very seldom do. I called 
him over afterward to compliment him. Pah! On the ground he 
was the poorest excuse for a soldier I ever saw: couldn't salute 
properly, didn't know enough to stand at attention, walked I 
should say ambled jerking about as if he were pulled on strings, 
lost his hat, doesn't look where he's going and splashes mud all over 
the corporal. When I ask him his name he forgets to say sir and 
starts some long-winded explanation of how his name is one thing 
and the Army changed it to something else Pah!" 

Ramsay knew the rest of the story. The colonel, disgusted, had 
said in a loud tone, loud enough to be heard by the rest of the 

Troop: "Take that little away from here! I don't want 

him in my company!" 

Those unfortunate words had set their seal on Joseph's fate. 
What might have been just a joke to be laughed about around the 
campfires in the evenings had turned into a disgrace for the whole 
troop. The men couldn't forgive Joseph for it. 

The open dislike, the tricks played on the young lad, the brutal 
hazing by some, shocked and astounded Ramsay. Usually a young- 
ster new in the ranks could expect extra help and encouragement 
from the older men; outside of himself Joseph had not one single 

r - i ^ 

friend. 

The dislike was partly due to the colonel's initial contempt for 
him. And partly it was due to circumstances. 

24 



The Lincoln Cavalry was already a seasoned fighting unit at- 
tached to the Army of the Potomac. The troops had seen bitter 
action under both Custer and Sheridan. The men were tired. They 
were also tough and hardened, coarsened by the demands of war- 
fare. They had faced death and seen friends die. They had learned 
to avoid sensitivity because war demanded a shell around them; 
some had turned mean and callous and brutal. Just ten days before 
Joseph had arrived they had fought a terrible battle near Winches- 
ter. Casualties had been heavy. Now they were resting on maneu- 
vers and small, minor patrols and skirmishes but the letdown of 
inaction after the holocaust of Winchester had only served to 
turn their tempers inward. They were surly and intolerant and 
cranky. 

Ramsay also had to admit that it was partly Joseph's fault The 
very qualities he appreciated in the young man his hungry, driv- 
ing curiosity, his talkativeness, the restlessness of his mind that 
drove him to maps and books and chess games instead of to the 
trifling conversation around the nightly campfire these set him 
apart and gave the men an excuse to think of Joseph as a conceited 
puppy who needed some manners knocked into his head. He had 
the awkwardness and the unsettled nature of a seventeen-year-old 
who was a boy one minute and a man the next. At best, it was a 
difficult age. In wartime, with the consistent maturity the Army 
demanded, it was more than difficult. He was driven to extremes 
of moodiness and temper and tears and insolence of defiance that 
infuriated the men. 

He would not hold his tongue. He would not be meek. But 
there was not enough strength in his arms or sufficient experience 
in his life to back up his dares. The men called his bluff and, 
disgusted with him, cuffed him around to teach him his place. 

Ramsay thought that it was perhaps a pity that Joseph had had 
such a kind father and such a gentle mother. They had never 
prepared the youth for hard knocks. They might at least have 

25 



given him some inheritance of their own handsome faces! If Joseph 
had only resembled Franz Roberding, the little bugler of the troop, 
things might have gone better for him. Franz was rosy cheeked, 
square bodied, blond and curly headed and he made the men think 
of their own children at home. He was the favorite, the mascot of 
the troop; no one was ever rough with him. 

That night, for the first time, the captain broke his own 
cautious rule and questioned Joseph. The two were playing chess 
by the light of a lantern swinging from the tent ridgepole; they 
sat on upturned boxes that creaked with every movement they 
made and threatened to collapse under them. In spite of the dis- 
comfort, this tent of the captain's was sanctuary to Joseph. 

'What happened today, Joe? I heard that fat corporal yelling 
for you. Sounded like he was out for your blood." 

"Nothing, sir." Joseph kept his eyes on the game. One hand 
crept up to rub his shoulder. 

"Come now he was making a lot of noise, if it was 'nothing/ " 
The boy looked up at his friend. A deep feather of red sprayed 
itself across both cheekbones, as always when he was very agitated. 
He tried to shrug his shoulders in an offhand way, but that was a 
mistake because it made the left one ache again. "I got a reprimand 
for being in Lieutenant Braun's tent and looking at his maps. 
Everyone does it; they are no secret material just maps. But they 
are out of bounds to me, it seems. The corporal was really sore at 
me because I questioned an order he gave me this morning. I was 
right but he thought I was being insubordinate." 

His eyes twinkling, Ramsay smiled to take the sting out of the 
scolding he knew he must give, if Joseph was to stop getting 
bruises on his face and aching shoulders from blows. "You -were 
insubordinate. It doesn't pay to question an order, even if you are 
right. Not in the Army. It's an enormously bad habit you have, 
son: always wanting to know why an order is given or what it is 
for* Your curiosity may come in handy for you in civilian life, but 

26 



not here because here you are not an individual You are a uniform. 
You step where others do and you move when you are told to and 
it is not the business of a private in the United States Army to 
wonder what General Grant is doing in the West and what is 
happening near Vicksburg and why President Lincoln is doing 
what he's doing or why Sheridan is taking half of this regiment 
into Virginia" 

"Is he, sir? Honestly? When is it going to happen? Have we 
had orders? What will the other half of the regimentwhere will 
they go? Will it be soon? Do I go to Virginia? Is Sheridan coming 
here first? What will-" 

Ramsay threw up his hands in despair. "Stop it! I guess there's 
no curing you, Joseph. Let's get on with the game." 

The news was soon verified. In less than a week the Lincoln 
Cavalry would be moving out, half to Virginia and the other half 
to patrol duty in Pennsylvania. The activities in camp tightened up, 
spruced up, began to rise to a high pitch of excitement and antici- 
pation. The men were glad to think of moving again because it 
meant the war would be over that much sooner. 

Tempers improved. Joseph got fewer cuffs and fewer insults and 
more good-humored teasing. The slow-talking trooper from Ohio 
who shared tent space with him even told the boy that he had 
heard some of the other soldiers say that Pouletzes was a better 
horseman than anyone else in the whole regiment and the troop 
should be proud of him. 

That was a happy moment for Joseph. Yet the very next day he 
was in trouble, the most terrifying trouble a soldier could be in. 

The reveille bugle had sounded; the troopers scrambled out of 
their tents for inspection. But this morning Joseph was seconds 
late and his tunic was still unfastened. The same fat corporal who 
detested him with a wholehearted contempt that had never changed 
happened to be doing the inspecting that morning. He called 
Joseph out of line. The boy stepped forward a pace and saluted. 

27 



Even the lieutenant who was slowly riding his horse up and 
down in front of the lines was shocked at the ferocity of the cor- 
poral's language. 

"Private Pouletzes! Attention!" Striding up to Joseph he flipped 
open the unfastened tunic. 'What the devil kind of a soldier are 
you? You're a swine! A dirty, lazy, whining, bigmouthed loafer! 
You're a disgrace to this troop! Did we get you out of bed too soon, 
huh? Didn't get your beauty rest? Nobody tucked you in last night? 
And I'm supposed to make a soldier out of a slobbering kid, a 
draggletail, like you! You're like all the rest of the filthy Austrians 
never was a German yet who didn't have to teach you to wash 
your faces! I'll bet your mother never taught you anything because 
she never knew anything herself except how to" 

Joseph stepped forward, the white heat of anger rising like a 
sheet of flame in front of his name. He struck the corporal with all 
the might of his fist and his anger. 

There was a gasp, a quick rustle of movement in the ranks and 
then absolute stillness. The lieutenant who had been about to stop 
the tirade froze into immobility on his horse. Striking an officer! 
No matter how much he had been goaded into it, Joseph's act was 
the one thing no soldier could do and get away with. 

"Private Baines, arrest this man.'* The lieutenant gave quiet 
orders- "Corporal" to forestall the fat noncom who was picking 
himself up off the ground for a murderous rush at Joseph "go on 
about your work. I'll see that Pouletzes is taken into custody." 

Joseph was led back to camp, imprisoned in a tent and guarded 
by an armed sentinel. 

He sat on the edge of the cot, his head bowed in his hands, as 
miserable and terrified as ever a boy could be. Court-martial 
disgrace prison perhaps it might even be a firing squad. He had 
heard of such things. This was wartime. He was not a kid playing 
at being soldier. This was the real thing and he was caught up in 
a grown-up world with grown-up rules. He wanted to lie down on 

28 



the cot but he did not dare because then he would give way to his 
panic or his tears. 

But he wasn't sorry. He would do the same thing again if they 
dared to say a word about his mother, his beautiful, sweet, dean, 
wonderful mother 

His head went down on the pillow and such loneliness and 
helplessness swept over him, such a longing to hear her soothing 
voice and to have her tender hands touch his face in comfort that 
he was forced to grind his face into the dirty ticking to keep from 
moaning out loud. Tears dripped through his fingers. 

Hours went by. His body, finally worn out by the storm that 
shook it, succumbed to a half-dozing kind of stupor. He was roused 
to wakefulness by an unaccustomed roar and bustle of sound out- 
sidethe sound of hundreds of horses being saddled and hundreds 
of soldiers on the move. This was strange! It was twilight. Were 
they going on maneuvers in the dark? He could make nothing of 
the unprecedented uproar and his nerves were so shaken, so raw, 
that he mixed up the strangeness outside with danger to himself. 
His tortured mind went round in circles again: court-martial dis- 
grace prison or firing squad? 

Why didn't they come? Why did they just let him lie there to 
sweat it out? 

And then, in the next breath, he was wishing desperately that 
they would never come, that they would just forget him and leave 
him alone. At that moment he heard firm steps outside the tent and 
a low voice speaking authoratively to the guard. Then he saw a 
hand pull open the tent flap. 

Joseph got to his feet He smoothed down his tunic. He straight- 
ened his shoulders into a rigid mold and held his eyes up, staring. 
He waited. 

When he saw it was Captain Ramsay and not a military guard 
detachment, his heart gave a great and wondering leap. The 
officer's face was grave and stern. 

29 



'Well, Joseph, youVe got yourself into a fine mess, haven't you?" 
"Are they do you know what they is it going to be a court- 
martial, sir?" 

"It was going to be. That corporal you slapped was out for your 
hide. But a delegation of men from your own troop went to Colonel 
Piel, and Lieutenant Butcher who heard the whole thing put in a 
word for you." 

'Then I'm not going to be shot?" 

"Shot! Good Heavens, son where did you get that idea? Not 
that men haven't been shot for insubordination before, but hardly 
a seventeen-year-old private. Prison for a few months or a year 
was what they were considering. Ah, Joseph, have you been sitting 
here in the dark actually thinking that?" He reached out and 
touched the boy's arm lighdy and kindly. Then he became brisk. 
"Actually you are being released because the company is moving 
out. It would be awkward to have a court-martial just at this time. 
You're going on patrol duty to Virginia. This is where we sep- 
arate, Joseph. I go with Sheridan. Let me give you my last piece of 
advice: give up your personal battle for the duration of die war, 
son." 

The captain gave him an exasperated, affectionate slap and went 
out, turning around to say as his good-by: "Keep up your chess 
game, Joseph. You have a genius for it" 

There was hardly time for Joseph to feel reaction of any kind, 
even relief, from the news. He was hustled outside by the guard, 
told to saddle his horse in twenty minutes and be ready to ride or 
be left behind. 

He made a vow to himself to follow Ramsay's advice. And for 
the rest of his time in the Army he succeeded, helped by several 
circumstances: the tight curb he held on his own tongue, the 
grudging admiration the men held for his defiance of the corporal 
and their own realization that he had been goaded into it; the fact 



that all of them were too busy with patrol or reconnaissance duty 
or running into small skirmishes. Then came Colonel Hinton. 

The colonel was assigned to the troop. His first need was for an 
orderly and by chance he picked Joseph, He had no special liking 
for him but he was a just and fair man who asked only that his 
orderly carry out his duties quickly and with reasonable intelligence. 

His new status removed Joseph completely from the fat cor- 
poral's vengeance. For the rest of the months of the war until 
victory, he ran errands, kept the colonel's papers in neat files, 
carried messages, copied maps and issued orders in the colonel's 
name. He slept in privacy in a small tent within hailing distance 
of the colonel's voice and rode close to his heels during actions. 
Separated from the rest of the camp life he enjoyed a time of peace 
that seemed to him a miracle of reprieve. 

But the brutality he had experienced left its mark on him. He 
was never to be the same happy, carefree, self-confident youngster 
who had once ridden with a fanner and seen in every face a friend. 

Suddenly the war was over. On May 23, 1865, the Army paraded 
up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. 

For Joseph, who rode with his troop for the last time and for the 
last time guided the big bay stallion in the ranks, it was a solemn 
and sad moment. The streets were decorated for victory but over 
the White House the flag hung at half-mast in mourning for 
Lincoln, who had embodied for Joseph all that was strong and 
unifying and democratic in America. 

On July 7th, on Hart's Island, New York, the Lincoln Cavalry 
was mustered, paid off and discharged. The men who had families 
scattered to all parts of the country but the rest of them, with no 
other ties, drifted into the city of New York. 

In a mood of bravado, to show his family how well off he was, 
Joseph had sent his mother almost the entire amount of the substi- 
tution money. But he had his pay and it seemed enough; it was 
more than he had ever had at any one time and he could spend it 

31 



as he pleased. He took a room in a good hotel and slept in a soft 
bed between clean white sheets as late in the mornings as his tired 
young body demanded. He ate and ate; he went to the finest 
restaurants Delmonico's and Rector's and Sherry's where the well- 
dressed diners looked with admiration at his worn uniform. He 
roamed the streets and people stopped him to shake his hand; 
everyone, it seemed to him, was on holiday. Victory and peace 
had brought forth a kind of universal brotherhood. 

That was at first. By the end of three weeks New York was 
crowded with ex-servicemen and then things began to change. 

It was time for him to look for a job. His choice was limited 
because he still spoke English so poorly. The Help Wanted section 
of a German-language newspaper listed an opening for an errand 
boy in a large department store. It was a comedown from his big, 
grand dreams, but he had to start somewhere. 

He arrived at the store at seven in the morning. To his astonish- 
ment there were twenty men in uniform ahead of him and in less 
than three minutes there were fifty behind him in line. The man- 
ager came out and told them that the job had been filled the night 
before. He gave them some advice: 

'Why don't you men go home to your families? There aren't 
going to be enough jobs in this city for even a small percentage of 
you. Every day I get applications. There just isn't any work." 

"Where we gonna go, mister?" one asked. And another: "I 
haven't got any family any place. My wife died while I was in 
the Army and her folks sold the farm." And still another: "My 
home's in New Jersey. There ain't any work there, either." 

The manager shrugged his shoulders and slammed his office door 
behind him. 

Joseph soon found it was true: there just weren't enough jobs 
to go around but the homeless soldiers had no other place to go. 
New York was thronged with men looking for work. He took a 

32 



cheaper room, spent as little as possible for food and was up at 
dawn hunting the streets for any work he could find. 

Poverty or no poverty, his pride forced him to look his best. 
He could do nothing about keeping his clothes from getting worn 
thin, but as often as he could possibly afford it he went to his 
favorite shoeshine stand in front of French's hotel to get his shoes 
cleaned and blacked. 

One day he took his seat on the stand. Next to him was a 
prosperous banker. On the other side an elegant dandy in a fine 
coat with an edge of fur on the collar looked over at him and 
sniffed in disdain. The bootblack polished their shoes first, pocketed 
their tips and then came over to Joseph. 

The rag worked slowly on one shoe, then stopped. The bootblack 
stepped away. "Look, mister I hate to ask you this, but would you 
mind not coming here any more?" 

'Why not?" Joseph was able to understand English fairly well 
by now, even though he spoke it badly. 

Covering up his own embarrassment by an anger he did not 
really feel, the other thrust his chin forward. "Because you're bad 
for trade, that's why. These rich nobs that come outa the hotel, 
they don't like to be sittin* next to someone that looks like a bum/' 

"A bum! You call me a bum! Look no rags. I sew up holes" 

The blootblack shrugged his shoulders. "I know. I'm sorry to 
have to do this. I was in the Army myself. But this is my living, 
buddy, and I have to think of my own wife and kids. I haven't 
said anything to you before, have I? I've let you come here and 
never minded when you couldn't tip me. But that overcoat of 
yours! Both those guys were lookin* at it. Look at it yourself!" 

If he couldn't understand all the words, Joseph could understand 
the gesture. He looked at his coat. Patched and sewn and cleaned 
as best he could with fragments of soap that came his way, it 
looked more like a burlap sack than a coat. He couldn't blame the 
bootblack for objecting to it. 

33 



"Get outa New York, kid," the bootblack called after him. "Go 
someplace else anyplace it can't be as bad as this." 

The incident and the advice made up Joseph's mind for him. 
He would leave this place. There was nothing for him in New 
York, and he didn't quite know where to go, but about one thing 
he was certain it would have to be a place where everyone spoke 
English and he would be forced to speak English, too. 

That same day he met a fellow veteran of the Lincoln Cavalry. 
He told him of his plan. 'Where do you think I should go?" 

The habit of playing jokes on young Pouletzes was too strong 
to be easily broken. "I know the very place for you. All English 
speaking. St. Louis, Missouri out west. You go there, young 
Pouletzes, and you'll thank me it's the very place you're looking 
for." 

Joseph thanked him. "But that was never my name, you know. 
It was Politzer, but I've changed it to Pulitzer because that's the 
way it sounds to people here in America. I'm telling you so if you 
ever come to this St. Louis, Missouri, you can look me up. Thank 
you again." 

He didn't know it was a joke; that St. Louis, which had been 
settled by Germans, was still the magnet that drew present-day 
German immigrants. Its language was German, its customs and 
folkways were German and its English-speaking community was 
a small minority* 

At the very moment of his leaving New York a letter came from 
his mother. 

"Come home, my son," it read. "You are so far away and we 
miss you. Business is good once more and your stepfather promises 
not to treat you as a child any more. He says you may go to the 
university, as you wished to. Your brother Albert is already attend- 
ing his classes there. It is not right for my Joseph to be alone in a 
Strange country " 

For a moment he wavered. This Missouri was so far away! All 

34 



he had to do was to answer this letter, say yes and they would send 
him the passage money back to Austria and home. But if he went 
back to Budapest he would be treated like a child. He would be 
dependent on his stepfather for his upkeep as well as his schooling. 
Besides, there was no adventure in going back to the past, back 
to safety. It would be like trying to wear a suit of clothes he had 
outgrown. 

He made up his mind. The West was the real America, the 
frontier. That was where fortune waited for the bold. 

When Joseph walked out of New York he was down to his last 
few coins. He made his way slowly across the states the way thou- 
sands of other ex-soldiers were doing by walking when he had to 
and bumming rides on freight trains when he could. His last penny 
was gone when he reached the Mississippi River. 

It was the evening of October 10th. A freak snowstorm had 
come up. Through its swirling flakes he plodded down the streets 
of East St. Louis. There was still that enormous, muddy, turbulent 
river to cross before he could reach the big city itself. Even through 
the snow he could see, dimly, the lights of St. Louis across the 
river. They might just as well have been in China for he did not 
have one cent to pay the ferry charge. 

Hungry, cold, frightened at the prospect of spending the stormy 
night without a rooof over his head, so close to those far banks and 
yet so impossibly far, he felt his courage completely gone. He wan- 
dered down to the ferry. There was no point in hugging those ferry 
gates. He was ordered away but he could not make himself go. 
He stayed there, his mind and heart empty, his body freezing, 
watching the big stern-wheeler ease itself up to the dock between 
the two rows of heavy piling. 

He was so dose he could hear the boatmen yelling to each other. 
One loud voice was calling someone named Johann. "fohaxm"-^ 
the wind blew the words away and then carried them back like a 
shout "where is Johann? Just when we need him to workisn't 

35 



told him to be here nine o'clock " Then other voices took up the 
yell for the missing Johann. 

Joseph's head, beginning to nod with the cold drowsiness that 
was benumbing his body, suddenly jerked up. He just realized 
something. The boatmen were speaking in German! 

He pressed himself up close to the ferry gate and called to them 
frantically. "Hey! Please! Is there a job for me? Do you need help? 
IVe got to get to St. Louis and I have no money!" he screamed the 
last words at them. 

A big stevedore came up to the fence. He took one look at 
Joseph's pinched face, blue from the icy wind. "Whatya want, kid?" 

"A job, please. Anything. I have no money for the ferry; 111 
freeze to death here. Haven't you got a job for me?" A fit of 
trembling shook the thin shoulders in the thin jacket the overcoat 
had long since been sold for food. 

"Well, you're in a bad way for sure, you are. Tell you what 
if that fireman Johann doesn't show up for work in a minute or 
two you go up to the engineer and tell him you'll work your 
passage across, with a dollar thrown in. It's tough, hard work. 
Well be making a dozen trips tonight mind you, no hopping off 
the boat when we get to the other side until the night's over. 
Come on tell the engineer Big Adolph sent you." The stevedore 
made a path through the gate for Joseph to slip by the incoming 
passengers and waved an okay to the tollkeeper. 

The engineer asked him if he could fire a boiler. Since telling 
a lie was preferable to freezing in the snow, Joseph would have 
stoutly claimed he could pilot the boat. Since Johann did not show 
up, he got the job. 

He was given a shovel and taken to the boiler which stood on 
the open deck. His job was to throw coal into the fiery mouth of 
that furnace that kept that boiler going, to throw and throw and 
keep throwing without a stop. The ferry was bucking a wind across 
the river that swept with galelike fury. A lot of power was needed 



from that boiler, and Joseph was the human force that made that 
power. He shoveled with all the strength of arms and back; never 
stopping, he slid the shovel into the pile, hoisted its load in a big 
sweeping arc and flung its contents into the boiler, over and over 
again, on and on, with a perpetual motion that became a night- 
mare to him. The freezing cold was on his back and the roaring, 
blazing heat from the open furnace seared him in front. 

All night long it went on; trip after trip, until he was reeling 
with fatigue. When the ferry tied up at the St. Louis dock at two 
o'clock in the morning, Joseph was in a stupor of exhaustion and 
pain. He stumbled off the boat. Big Adolph gave him directions 
to a cheap hotel, the engineer pressed some coins into his hand, 
someone put a cup of hot coffee into his hand and he sipped a 
little of it, swaying on his feet by the potbellied stove that thawed 
him into a state of torpor. 

Then he was out in the streets. The snow had stopped. The 
sleeping city was quiet as he plodded up to the gaslight that adver- 
tised the hotel Adolph recommended. Vaguely he saw a clerk's face 
and mumbled his request for a room, then followed the figure of 
the clerk up the stairs. He remembered nothing more. 



37 




At six o'clock in the morning a bedlam of noise woke Joseph 
and brought him in a rush to his open bedroom window. Painful 
twinges in his back and legs reminded him of last night's ordeal, 
but he forgot all about them in the vivid, dramatic picture that 
unrolled before his eyes. 

The storm was over. The sun was shining, glittering on the river 
to his left and on the smoke-streaked city buildings that stretched 
out flat and far to his right. His hotel was on the slant of the river- 
bank and the bedlam of noise was coming from the wide, long 
banks and from the river itself. Boats of all kinds side-wheelers, 
stern-wheelers, tugs, rafts, flat-bottomed pole-driven barges- 
crowded each other at the levees, coming and going, loading and 
unloading freight and passengers. Stevedores rolled bales of cotton 
up the wharf. Their work song floated up to him, powerful and 
steady. 

Joseph's hungry nose caught the heavy aroma of molasses and 
sugar and brine. The wind brought other odors not so appetizing, 
the mingling of coal tar and pitch and rotting fish caught in the 
oily scum of the river. 

Dressing hurriedly, he ran down the stairs two steps at a time, 
paid his bill and rushed out into the muddy, unpaved street, almost 
throwing himself under the wheels of a huge, white, canvas-cov- 
ered wagon that was lurching its way up from the ferry. 

38 



A Cbnestoga wagon! This was the wagonbecoming rarer every 
day as the railroads expanded made famous by the pioneers who 
used it to carry themselves and all their possessions on the caravans 
to the uncharted West. Joseph stood and gawked, getting a stern 
frown in return from the bearded pioneer who drove the wagon 
and a shy smile from his poke-bonneted wife. 

He followed the wagon up the slope to the city. He bought a 
bun at a bakery and, munching it, walked the streets in a hurry 
to see everything. St. Louis had something he had never found in 
any other city: a meeting ground of languid, elegant southerner, 
smart, brisk easterner and the tough and hardy men of North and 
West. The streets were as crowded with the picturesque figures 
of hunters and trappers in buckskin, with army troops, with settler 
families, as they were with broadcloth suits and dignified beaver 
hats and hoop-skirted crinoline-dad ladies. Pushing their way 
with arrogance through the throng were the real lords of the city 
the rivermen, the swaggering, roistering men who worked the 
paddle boats from New Orleans to the far north sweep of the 
Mississippi. The railroads were threatening their dominion but they 
laughed at them. Everyone knew that "Ole Miss" would carry the 
cargo long after those steam engines busted their boilers chugging 
over the mountains! 

There were fine streets of fine-looking business houses. There 
were libraries and banks and big hotels, evidences of the solid and 
prosperous citizenry. 

History was being made in St. Louis. The end of the Civil War 
opened up all the West to be free states and industrial states 
instead of plantation land. It was the biggest expansion boom the 
country had ever seen and much of it flowed through this gateway 
city. Trains and wagons carried immigrants from the East. In St. 
Louis they got their equipment and were on their way to hunt or 
trap, to find gold, to plow farms, to found new towns and build 
new states. Streets were powdered to dust or churned into mud 

39 



under the heavy traffic of ironshod hoofs; cobblestones rang under 
them like anvils. Joseph found himself pushed right off the busy 
sidewalk and sank to his ankles in the muddy gutter. 

Sight-seeing was fine, but he needed a job. With his last penny 
he bought an evening paper. There was only one position he could 
apply for. It read: "Wanted: hostler for mules. Apply Benton 
Barracks. Ex-cavalryman preferred." 

The Benton Barracks, he was told, were four miles north of 
town. Eating the last of his bun he jog-trotted the whole four 
miles. When he got there he was told the job was still open but 
where were his army discharge papers? How could he prove he'd 
been in the cavalry? 

Joseph ran the four miles back to St. Louis, whirled into his 
hotel, grabbed his knapsack from behind the counter where he'd 
left it for safekeeping and ran all the way back again to the bar- 
racks. Toward the end it was more of a stagger than a run. But 
the job was still open; for some peculiar reason there had been very 
few applicants. 

He found out why very shortly. All his life Joseph was to love 
horses, but mules, he discovered, were a different breed of animal, 
particularly the stubborn, temperamental Missouri kind. If he was 
good to them they turned cunning, if he walloped them they 
waited till his back was turned and then let fly with their vicious 
hoofs. Even so, he would have stuck it out if the food served to 
the hostlers had not been so terrible. All six stablemen quit at the 
same time and Joseph walked out with them. 

At least he had a few days' pay. He moved to a lodging-house 
and gave the landlady almost every cent of it By nightfall he had 
another job, operating the gates of the ferry and collecting the fares. 
By the time the regular gatekeeper had recovered from the flu and 
was back on the job, Joseph had learned a little more of river ways. 
He was taken on as a stevedore. This lasted a week. He had not 
wasted that week; he had talked to everyone he could about pros- 

40 



pects and now a driver of a livery hack, delivering passengers to the 
boats, took him on as a spare driver* Four weeks of that then back 
to stevedoring a month and a half spell as a construction worker 
on a warehouse building a couple of days waiting on tables in a 
restaurant and so it went for two months. 

His landlady tried to advise him. 

"Mr. Pulitzer, why don't you do like my other young men? You 
go from one job to another, hopping around like a flea. Otto Brugel 
was on that same job building the warehouse like you were but 
he stays there and now he is to be foreman. You could have been 
foreman. Otto told me so. And the Irish lad Mickey Kevin, he's 
saving his money to buy his own wagon. What's the matter, you 
don't stay at one job?" The big woman was tatting lace doilies and 
rocking in her favorite armchair. She liked Joseph. He had just 
brought her another ten dollars to put away for him in her old 
cracked-leather snapdasp purse. He was now a month ahead with 
his rent 

He sat down awkwardly on the hassock across the fire from her. 
The parlor was so crowded with tiny tables and big chairs and 
footstools and glass-fronted bookcases every inch of table space 
packed with pictures in frames and Bibles and fragile porcelain 
figurines that he was afraid of a catastrophe every time his elbows 
and knees tried to maneuver between them. 

"But I don't know what I want, the way Otto does, Mrs. Au- 
gustus. He wants to be a builder. Mickey wants to have a wagon 
and a team of horses." Joseph sighed. "When I tell them I don't 
want to be tied down yet they think I'm just irresponsible. They 
say I have no future ahead of me, but that's the whole point. 
Everything is in the future and I don't know enough; I haven't seen 
enough yet to settle down to anything." 

She shook her head. "There are lots of jobs right now but that 
won't last forever. And how are you getting along with the learn- 
ing to speak English, Mr. Pulitzer? Why should you care? Ten 

41 



years I've been here and I know enough to talk to the man who 
sells me milk from his farm, and for the rest good German is all I 
need to know." 

"It goes too slow! If I could get English books to read that would 
make me learn but I cannot afford to buy them/' 

"Buy them? To the library why don't you go? There you find 
them free. There you can read them or you can borrow them 
overnight." 

He stared at her. "You mean I can go to the library? But I do 
not own any property, I do not have anyone to sign for me. Surely 
they won't trust me with books!" 

"In America they trust you," she told him. 

There was a long pause while Joseph considered this startling 
news. Then he raised his eyes from the fire. He took a deep breath. 
He told her: "I have made a decision. Tomorrow I will go to this 
library and see for myself. If it is true, then I quit my job. I have 
enough money to last me a month/ 

"For a whole month you are going to read books?" 

He nodded. "And look around/' 

On his way from the lodginghouse the next morning through the 
streets that led to the imposing building of the Mercantile Library 
he walked with a new sense of freedom and alertness. "Looking 
around" might sound forbiddingly vague to Mrs. Augustus but that 
was exactly what Joseph wanted to be able to do. With his nose 
buried in jobs he had felt as if he were shoved off into little pockets 
of the city's life; buried like that, how could he possibly know 
what other opportunities there might be for him? From the talk he 
heard around him he knew that miracles were happening in St. 
Louis* Fortunes were being skimmed off the river trade, from the 
warehouses growing chunk by chunk around the docks, from the 
transportation industry, railroads, stagecoach and wagon. Lawyers 
were in demand; doctors could not keep up with their practices; 
schools were opening; architects were designing buildings as fast as 

42 



they could be blueprinted. Most of all, the merchants flourished. 
For a young man it was a city of opportunity. 

It was true, as Otto had said, that Joseph could have been fore- 
man of the construction job. He had refused for the very same 
reason that had beset him in the Army, his insatiable desire to 
know everything. It just seemed incredible to him that men spent 
their lives in one narrow slot, their minds restricted to the same 
path from morning to night, their eyes confined just to the boun- 
daries of their particular job. He supposed that someday he would 
have to find just such a slot of his own but he didn't want to be 
trapped just yet. There was no satisfaction to his spirit in thinking 
that today he would lay a floor of a building, then the walls, then 
the roof and next month the same thing all over again. 

He wished he could be like Otto. Otto took pride in such good 
craftsmanship. "I am 'building something. I am building a city" 
he would boast. "What are you ever going to build with your ques- 
tions and your wondering and your thinking? Maybe a reputation 
for being a fool?" 

It worried Joseph, too. But he couldn't change. 

His steps this morning took him to the corner of Fifth and 
Market streets. There was a new building there, he saw, and noted 
that painters were busy putting new gold lettering on the windows 
on the second floor. So these were to be lawyers* offices! In the 
doorway a well-dressed middle-aged man beckoned to him. 

"Come here." 

Joseph walked over to him. 

"Want to earn half a dollar?" The man in the doorway had 
sized up Joseph's clean but secondhand, shabby suit. "Only take a 
few minutes. I want you to take these papers over to the courthouse, 
to Judge Elber's chambers, and hand them to his clerk. That's all 
you have to do. Come back here and I'll pay you/' 

Joseph ran the errand. He was fascinated by the strange, digni- 
fied, austere setting of the judge's chambers and by the quiet 

43 



busyness of the courtrooms. Here was drama going on all around 
him. Maybe he would become a lawyer. He hurried back to Fifth 
and Market and walked up the stairs to the lawyer's office. 

"Thanks, kid." The coin was slapped into Joseph's hand. 

"Do you need an errand boy? Could I work here for you?'" 

"Oh, I don't have enough work to keep you busy. Even if you 
ran errands for all five of us in the suite here we couldn't do more 
than keep you in pennies. It would be a big help to us but we 
couldn't afford you/' 

Joseph thanked him and walked on to the library. An idea was 
forming in his head, but he would have to see, first, if Mrs. 
Augustus was right about his being able to borrow books for 
nothing. 

The Mercantile Library, for a frontier city like St. Louis, was 
nothing short of amazing. It had a collection of books, a wide 
range of reading and research material and special documents that 
could rank with the best in the country. It was not so surprising 
considering that the city was filled with German emigres who had 
brought with them to the New World not only a hunger for free- 
dom but their high esteem for culture and learning. 

Into these big, dimly lit, paneled rooms with their awesome 
shelves of books ranging from floor to ceiling came Joseph, and it 
was as if he had come into his own. The librarian was absent that 
day and the assistant Udo Brachvogel was almost as young as 
Joseph and with the same keen interest in learning. They liked 
each other on sight and Brachvogel took pride in explaining that, 
yes, the library was indeed free and in showing the boy around, 
even helping him choose the books he wanted. 

At lunchtime Joseph went back to the lawyer's and explained 
his idea. 

If he could work for them two hours a day and if they knew 
they could count on him showing up for those two hours, to run 

44 



errands or do copying, would they let him study law? Help him to 
become a lawyer? 

They agreed with enthusiasm. They would be getting a clerk 
for nothing. In those days it was not necessary to attend a law 
school to pass qualifications to become a lawyer and most of them 
had started just as Joseph was doing, studying on their own in a 
friend's office. 

And so for a whole month Joseph was free to do what he 
wanted: read and study. Every morning he was on the steps of the 
library waiting for Udo Brachvogel to open the doors. If the 
lawyers as frequently happened wanted him to come to them in 
the evenings instead of the daytime, then he read right through 
lunchtime, his book propped open in front of him, munching 
apples. At first it was hard. He made himself read in English, 
referring to an English-German dictionary he kept on the table. 
But soon it became unnecessary, except for an occasional word or 
two, and then he found himself swallowing books at an enormous 
rate. Through the lawbooks he was studying he was forcing him- 
self not only to read but to think in English. 

This was what he had been wanting for so long. He read 
everything: history, mathematics, philosophy, geography, science. 
He read Shakespeare and Bacon and Milton and Voltaire but while 
he enjoyed literature it was facts he was looking for, and those he 
found in the thick, dusty, undecorated volumes that usually lay 
undisturbed on the shelves except for the curious or the researcher. 
Classroom books. Textbooks. Lecture books. 

During this month something happened to Joseph that was 
incredibly wonderful to a lonely young man. He made a friend. 

Brachvogel liked him but they had little in common except their 
liking for books and that was scarcely enough, in the eyes of an 
assistant librarian with educated friends of his own, to promote any 
ties outside the library. But one day he did introduce him to Profes- 
sor Thomas Davidson. Davidson was not much older than either of 

45 



them, but although he had only recently come from Scotland to 
teach in the St Louis High School, in that short period he had 
already earned wide respect for his profound and scholarly mind. 

Impulsively, the professor asked Joseph to drop by his rooms that 
evening for a chat 

Joseph arrived early. Davidson had almost forgotten his invitation 
and had just finished dinner. For a minute he was irritated. He 
loved the quiet time after the evening meal when he could take 
a beloved book from the case in his study, light his pipe and forget 
the trials of teaching. Now he would have to spend those hours 
being polite to this earnest, shy young man who was probably 
reading in the library because he was lonely and had no other 
place to go. 

But he was surprised. A few skillful questions from him brought 
out the fact that Joseph had had a limited but good education in 
Budapest, that he had come to this country on his own initiative, 
had already served in the Army and was now studying law. 
Hmmmm this didn't sound like the usual history of a boy of 
eighteen. Still being polite, Davidson asked him what he thought 
of America, the usual question put to newcomers. 

"It's a wonderful country," Joseph answered. He cradled his cup 
of tea in his long, supple fingers and his bony elbows rested on 
his bony knees. He looked at Davidson with hopeful but distrustful 
expectation. Would this one let him talk and answer questions? 
"But it is full of contradictions. It was founded on ideas of free- 
dom that existed nowhere else in the world and it helped the 
French to have their revolution. But it tolerated slavery. How 
could the idea of slavery exist alongside of the idea of freedom?" 

"Slavery was not just an idea," Davidson answered, "although 
to give it respectability men had to claim it was ordained by God 
and by nature. But basically it was an economic measure to put 
money into the pockets of landowners. It could not survive because 
economically it came in conflict with industrial conflicts. There is 

46 



something of a parallel here, between land wealth and industrial 
wealth, that happened in the time of Cromwell/' 

And Davidson began to talk of the beginnings of the industrial 
revolution. As he went on, his lecture became enthusiastic, not so 
much from his own interest as from the luminous eagerness in 
Joseph's eyes and the intelligent questions he asked. From Cromwell 
they went to Milton, from Milton to Thomas Paine, from Paine to 
Jefferson. 

It was midnight when Davidson came to with a start. 
"Grief, lad! I've been gabbling on like the schoolteacher I am; 
you must be worn to the bone with my meanderings. It's you that 
is at fault, though. You are too good an audience.*' 
"May I come again, Professor Davidson?" 
"Call me Thomas. I shall certainly call you Joseph. And I should 
like very much to have such another chat with you." 
'Tomorrow?" 

Davidson opened his mouth to protest, then to his great amaze- 
ment he realized he was as anxious as the younger man to see him 
again. "Please do." 

They had become friends immediately. Affection and respect 
grew up between them that would survive to the end of their lives. 
For the first time Joseph found someone who not only would talk 
and listen to him but who could talk with real knowledge of what 
he was saying and answer questions in a way that made sense. 

Davidson's knowledge was that of an encyclopedia. He knew a 
lot about everything. It pleased him to see his young friend's 
insistence on digging for die absolute facts, the realities of every- 
thing they discussed. Joseph's mind was a challenge that sharpened 
his reading and studying; he had to work hard to "keep ahead of 
the laddie." It distressed him a little that Joseph did not enjoy 
philosophy as much as he did. "You are more interested in what 
people do than why" he would argue, "Don't you want to think 
about the reasons why men and women do what they do and live 

47 



as they live? Why do ideas change?-the concepts of morality and 
family life and property, why do they change when a country is 
no longer feudal but capitalist? What is progress? Is wealth prog- 
ress? Why are a few men wealthy and a lot of men poor? Why does 
the world say a man should be lord in the house and a wife be 
humble? Why-" 

Joseph was impatient. "Philosophers are a bunch of dreamers!" 

'Those dreamers have helped to change history. I think* when- 
ever Davidson became slightly personal or emotional his Scotch 
burr was most evident "I think, laddie, you might happen to make 
a guid politician. Nay, that is no insult. A guid one a reformer. 
You are not likely to change history but you may help to make it 
a little." 

To this man only, Joseph could tell the terrors of his experiences 
in the Army. The pain and the humiliation had pierced so deeply 
into his very being that he found himself shaking as he talked. 

'That explains it," Davidson remarked quietly but sympatheti- 
cally, *1 wondered why so young a mon as you should shrink so 
sometimes from a word and have so much hurt in so bonny a face." 

"Bonny! They made fun of me for being so ugly." 

Surprised, the other man studied him carefully. **You are not 
ugly. A bit a bit knobbly, I should say. May I take the liberty of 
suggesting tbat a diet of apples is not sufficient? You want to grow 
into those br-r-road shoulders/' Privately, Davidson thought Jo- 
seph's eyes remarkable in their brilliance and intelligence and was 
worried at the boy's habit of rubbing them to ease the strain of 
reading too much under dim, flickering gaslights. He thought, too, 
that any girl might envy the texture of his skin. The boy had good 
points, although there was no denying the fact that his cheap 
clothes still hung on his skinny frame like something tossed on a 
scarecrow. 

Tte month was sooon up. Joseph went back to the docks for 
another long spell of stevedoring that stretched into the spring of 

48 



1866. He was able to put more advance rent money into Mrs. 
Augustus's hands. 

The lawyers were upset by the change. They hated to lose their 
part-time and unpaid clerk. They held a council among themselves 
and one of them remembered that a society had been formed 
recently by two prominent newspapermen, Schurz and Preetorius 
of the Westliche Post, for the very purpose of helping deserving 
German immigrants. Who was more deserving than Joseph 
Pulitzer? 

The society placed him as a bookkeeper in Strauss's Lumber 
Yard. It was easy work and gave him time to spend his dinner 
hours at the library, his evenings copying briefs and studying law- 
books, and his week ends divided between library and Thomas 
Davidson. The money was barely enough to keep him alive, how- 
ever, so when in the fall he was offered a temporary job as warden 
of Arsenal Island he was forced to take it or he'd be walking the 
streets without any soles to his shoes or patches for the knees of 
his trousers. 

Arsenal Island was a cemetery. When Joseph arrived there he 
was unlucky enough to land right in the middle of disaster, A 
cholera epidemic was sweeping the city. Dead bodies were hauled 
in endless wagonloads to be ferried across to the island. Joseph 
had nothing to do with the actual handling of the corpses; he had 
only to fill in forms and make detailed reports to the Department 
of Health, but his days and nights were filled with the most 
horrible, sickening, morbid sights, 

"Get the lad out of there!" Davidson descended in wrath upon 
the aid society. "That is over much for one of such tender years. 
He canna stand it!" 

But Joseph forced himself to stand it. The officials of City Hall 
begged him to stay, praised him and promised an excellent job for 
him if he would. So, even though the days were hideous and the 

49 



nights worse and the danger of contagion an ever-present threat to 
him, he stayed on the island until the epidemic was over. 

The promised job was indeed a big prize. It required courage 
and brains, but it would bring him prestige and an excellent salary. 
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad needed two men to ride through 
all the Missouri counties, which were mostly wild and unsettled 
wildernesses at that time, to record its charter into every county's 
bylaws and thus permit them a right-of-way and privileges that 
would stand up in court when they began to build their line. 

A young Negro, who already knew something of the country, 
and Joseph, who knew nothing of it, were chosen. On a crisp 
autumn day they started out on good riding horses, fully equipped 
for the long months of their journey with rations and money and 
power of attorney for the railroad in their saddlebags. Both men 
rode well and for both, in spite of the hardships, it was something 
of a holiday. Riding all day in the open air brought health back 
into Joseph's body and his dreams finally stopped being nightmares 
of death. Over their campfire at night they would talk. Joseph 
would read aloud until it was too dark to see. 

They talked a great deal about the eagerness for education that 
was sweeping America. "My people, especially," his companion told 
Joseph, "want to read and write. Now that the war is over Negroes 
are holding conventions all over the South and one of the things 
we want most is free schooling for everyone/' And Joseph recalled 
something that Professor Davidson believed: that with railroads and 
telegraphs bringing people together out of isolation there had come 
a corresponding need for people to know more of each other, more 
of what was happening in the world. Newspapers and magazines 
were springing up overnight. 

They did their job well. At each county seat they checked 
records and got the required official seal on the railroad rights. 

Then tragedy struck. Their way had been hard. In most places 
there were no roads and they had had to force their way through 

50 



forest and underbrush, over hills and down steep gullies, through 
blinding rain and storms. At the river called the Gasconade they 
were forced to swim the swollen floodwater. His Negro companion 
was drowned. Joseph tried to save him but both man and horses 
were swept away. He would have lost his own life if a trick of the 
floodwater had not washed him up on the farther bank. 

His papers, in an oilskin packet, were safe. At the nearest hamlet 
he got help to recover the body of his companion and to bury him, 
then he bought another horse and continued the journey alone. 

When he reached St. Louis he was showered with praise by 
both city and railroad officials. The charter rights were granted and 
recorded. But the flattery showered on him was short lived; time 
after time he went back to their offices to ask for more work and 
finally he realized they had even forgotten his name. 

Back he went to the round of reading, studying law and clerk- 
ing. His rent once again was paid for several months ahead. He 
made a few new friends: Dr. George Engelman, the eminent 
botanist, was introduced to him at Roslein's Bookstore along with 
Arthur Koeppler, an Austrian artist who had established a comic 
weekly called Pwcfe. The wife of Judge J. G. Woerner, out of 
sympathy and curiosity for this young man who was reputed to be 
such a scholar, invited him to dinner on the occasion of his passing 
his law examinations. 

"So now I am a lawyer/' Joseph said, with bitterness, to David- 
son, "and a lot of good it does me. I couldn't afford to buy a single 
ream of foolscap, much less furnish an office and wait for clients*" 
He paced up and down his friend's study. Coming to a halt at the 
potbellied Franklin stove, he gave a moody kick to the footstool in 
his way and sent it flying against the wall. Like Mrs. Augustus, 
Davidson trembled for his furniture every time Joseph's long legs 
got entangled with it 

"Not a word from the railroad company?" 

"Nothing. They don't need me; they don't want me. I had such 

51 



high hopes there, too. It seemed to me that at last I had found 
an opening. Now there's nothing and it's back to stevedoring in a 
week for me. I guess people are right. I've got to stop looking 
around* and settle down to any steady job I can find/' He picked 
up a thick scarf and wound it around his neck slowly, his whole 
face expressing a brooding discouragement Davidson had never 
seen before. 

"Where are you off to now, laddie?" Davidson indicated the 
teakettle. "Why not stay the evening?" 

"Thank you, no. Ill go to the library. Tm not good company 
tonight, Thomas." 

An hour later he was deep in an armchair at the Mercantile 
Library, his nose close to the pages of the book he was reading. 
The flare of the gas jets made the words dance on the page. He 
had been reading steadily and his eyes were beginning to ache. 
He pushed back the chair to stretch, then rose and made a slow 
tour of the room. Through an open door to his right he could hear 
voices arguing, muffled as if their owners were trying hard to re- 
member they were in a public building. 

He peeked in. It was the sun parlor and two men were playing 
chess. Their argument ended, they had bent their heads again in 
silence over the board. Joseph watched them idly. Suddenly he 
sprang forward. One of the men had started to make a move with 
his bishop. 

"Don't do it!" Joseph cried. And while the startled player held 
his chessman poised over the board, Joseph strode to his side. He 
peered down at the positions on the board. "If you do that, can't 
you see it will put you in jeopardy?" He pounced, grabbed the 
bishop out of the astonished hand that held it, replaced it and 
made a quick move with a pawn instead. 

The two players gaped at him in astonishment. 

"Don't you see?" Joseph was so intent on the game that it never 
occurred to him they might think him rude. "Now you can move 

52 



here" he illustrated "and here and here and you've won the 
game." 

Both men stared at the board. Then the winner straightened in 
his chair, plumped back his shoulders and beamed up at Joseph. 
"You are right! That is just what I meant to do! Emil this is the 
first game I have won from you in weeks and see how brilliantly 
I have it won!" 

His friend eyed him sourly. "It was not you who won it, let me 
remind you. It is not fair," he protested. 

"Emil Emil! Defeat is nothing not when you lose to such a 
brilliant play as that! Admit that you have lost to me." 

The one called Emil argued again that it was not he but the 
young man who had made the move. The game should not count 
It was not fair. "You did not win, Carl!" 

Joseph turned away to go back to his book. 

"Come here, young man. I must know such a chess player." 
The man named Carl called to him. His tone was indulgent and 
patronizing; though he looked to be scarcely forty years old, there 
was something military in his bearing, something commanding in 
his manner, something so distinguished in his face and the way he 
held his head that Joseph obeyed him as he would have a superior 
or a father. The two men had been speaking German to each 
other. Now he switched to flawless, correct English. "Let me intro- 
duce myself to you. I am Carl Schurz, and this is my friend and 
partner Dr. Emil Preetorius. You may have heard of us?" The 
question had an innocent vanity in it. The two names were well 
known in St. Louis and Carl Schurz's was known throughout 
America. 

Joseph was overwhelmed. What a crazy fool he had been to 
shove himself, uninvited, into the company of such men as these! 
Carl Schurz was like an idol to him, as he was to almost every 
young man in St Louis every Republican young man, that is. 
Carl Schurz was one of the founders of the Republican party. 

53 



He had been partly responsible for the nomination and the election 
of Abraham Lincoln. He was United States Senator from Missouri. 
He and Preetorius owned the St. Louis Westliche Post. He had 
raised the money to form the very Lincoln Cavalry in which Joseph 
had served; Schurz himself had been a general in the war. It was 
his society that helped young German lads find jobs as it had 
Joseph. 

No wonder the German youth of St. Louis worshiped him. 
Wasn't Carl Schurz one of them? Hadn't he once been a poor im- 
migrant? And now look at him! 

Joseph stammered, acknowledging the introduction. "Indeed, I 
do know of you. I am glad of the chance to thank you your aid 
society has helped me find jobs." His face reddened as he admitted 
his poverty, "Also, you own the Westliche Post. I read your paper- 
not as much as I used to because now I try to read the English 
papers." Dr. Preetorius' face, round and plump, had a hurt frown 
at this, but Schurz smiled approvingly. 

"As long as it is to change your accent, fine. But don't let those 
other papers change your politics. Just what are your politics?" 

"Carl! The young man plays a good game of chess; let him play 
chess, not fill up his head with your civil service reforms or your 
bills for Negroes to vote. Come, Joseph sit down and play a game 
with Carl. Let him see how he likes to be beaten by an expert!" 

Intent on the new game, Joseph was completely unaware of how 
skillfully the two men questioned him about himself. Dr. Pree- 
torius was interested in the personal side of Joseph's life; Carl 
Schurz was satisfied with Joseph's Republicanism. When he told 
them he had been a trooper in the Lincoln Cavalry the partners 
looked at each other with deep emotion on their faces. The 
cavalry had been sponsored by them, and they felt a deep emo- 
tional tie with anyone who had fought under its banner. But they 
said nothing of this to Joseph. All their questioning was done with 
a sensitive regard for his feelings, yet when the evening was over 

54 



they would have astounded him with how much they knew of him. 

They were impressed. Only twenty almost twenty-one years of 
age already this nice young man was a soldier, a scholar, a lawyer 
and such a chess player! 

They left him to keep an appointment with their editor Louis 
Willich at their favorite coffeehouse. They had business to talk 
over with him. A connection between that business and this young 
Joseph Pulitzer was beginning to form simultaneously, though tin- 
spoken, in both their minds. 

It was Dr. Preetorius who brought up the possibility. He ap- 
proached it in a roundabout way. "So you will not have a reporter 
by the end of the week, Louis?" 

"That's right, Doctor. That's what we have to settle. That re- 
porter of ours got a better offer from Cincinnati and he leaves at the 
end of the week." 

"And have you anyone in mind to take his place?" 

Willich shook his head in disgust. "There's only one I would 
even consider. A fellow named Ahrenberg. A man of a lot of ex- 
perience, but we would have trouble on our hands. He thinks he 
knows everything. It wouldn't be long before he'd be trying to 
teach me how to run the city desk" 

The vanity of their editor was his weak spot He had run things 
his own way so long he was afraid of change. The two publishers 
were ready to take advantage of this. They dosed in. 

"Ahrenberg ach so ambitious a man!" 

We met another young man today" 

"A very bright young man, even though he knows nothing of 
newspapers" 

"That's right He doesn't know newspapers like Ahrenberg does. 
Still, if he's willing to learn, willing to work hard" 

"A scholar he is. A good mind" 

"He beat Emil at chess." Schurz put in, in an offhand way. 

"He beat you, too, don't forget." 

55 



Willich held up his hands to keep them to the point. "But you 
say he has never been near a newspaper?" 

"Is skill and experience everything, Louis?" Carl leaned for- 
ward to speak earnestly. "Couldn't you train him?" 

The wily, plump Preetorius shook his head. "Carl Carl! Leave 
Louis alone. He is right. Better we should hire Ahrenberg. I un- 
derstand he was so good in his last job they were thinking of mak- 
ing him the editor but the editor was so jealous of him he was fired. 
But you wouldn't mind him making the suggestions for improving 
the Post, would you, Louis? The paper could stand a good shak- 
ing up-" 

Willich was alarmed. His worst fears were being confirmed. 
"Not so fast, please. I didn't say this young Pulitzer was hopeless. 
With me to teach and guide him and tell him what to do, I 
wouldn't be surprised if he turned into quite a competent reporter, 
if he has the qualities you say he has. I have done better with far 
worse material, believe me. I say let's give him a chance. You have 
to be willing to take a chance once in a while, Dr. Preetorius. I say 
we hire him!" 

It was decided. When Willich left to look over final preparations 
for the next day's publication the two partners laughed and 
chuckled, congratulating each other on how clever they were and 
how they had slipped one over on their city editor. They sent a 
messenger to Mrs. Augustus* lodginghouse, to tell their new prot^g^ 
to be in Willich's office the first thing in the morning. Then they 
settled down to their nightly game of chess. 



56 



four 



It was a dazed Joseph who sat across the scarred and battered 
desk in Willich's office the next morning. He listened to the edi- 
tor's explanations as if he were in a dream. 

"You want the job, don't you, Pulitzer?" Willich demanded, 
sharply. To himself, he thought this was a mistake. He had been 
earned away last night by his fears. This new reporter showed 
nothing of the bright mind that the partners had bragged of; he 
was an awkward youth and a stupid one, to boot. 

"Oh, yes. Yes! Just tell me again what I am to do." 

"Well, ordinarily I'd let you hang around here for a few days 
and get used to the place. But that reporter! he got wind I had 
hired you and now he's just taken off. Hasn't shown up. Sent word 
he was through. So you will just have to start right out this morn- 
ing covering a story. Now, listen." As he looked at Joseph's face he 
despaired. Could he possibly make a reporter out of this thin strip- 
ling, with that timid mouth and eyes and those hands that were 
nervously clutching the squirming knees? 

"Now, listen," he repeated. "There's been a robbery out at 22 
Fourth Street Roslein's Bookstore." 

"I I know it," Joseph stuttered. 

"Good. Hurry out there, get the story of what happened and 
don't let the newspapermen from the other papers play tricks on 
you. You get that story. Hear? You get that story! Find out the 

57 



details. But don't make a nuisance of yourself. If you see a man 
named Peters, from the Dispatch, stick to him. Hell give you the 
straight goods. Ask him what happened I guess that would he 
better than trying to find it out yourself. You ask Peters. Now 
hurry!" 

Joseph ran all the way to the bookstore. There was no time to 
even think about this incredible thing, this bolt from a kindly 
heaven that had struck him. He was a reporter for the Westliche 
Postl Only he didn't have the faintest idea of what a reporter was 
supposed to do. 

Roslein's Bookstore was a favorite haunt of his. The proprietor 
had been kind enough, at times, to sell him unwanted books at 
half price. 

He came upon the scene breathless and panting. Other reporters 
were gathered in a small, compact knot by the bookstore window. 
He recognized them by the pencils they flourished and the pads of 
yellow paper in their hands. He almost ran pell-mell into them. 
"Mr. Peters? Are you Mr. Peters? Can I see Mr. Peters?" 

As one man they turned to stare at him. They were men of 
sophistication in their own eyes proud as peacocks of their pro- 
fession and condescending to anyone out of it. Like a badge of 
their trade, they were dressed very much alike in the loose ulster 
overcoat or the Inverness cape so fashionable then, their pork pie 
hats carelessly, jauntingly set at the correct rakish angle. Some of 
them even sported gloves and canes. They cultivated a languishing 
pose. As was their usual habit, they had sent in one of their num- 
ber to get the facts from the policeman in charge. They were wait- 
ing outside to pool their information. 

"Why do you want Peters?" one of them asked. He bit the end 
off a long, slender cigar and raised an eyebrow at the perspiring 
Joseph. "He's inside die store." 

Tin the new reporter from the Westliche Post. I " 

But just then a man strolled out of Roslein's. 

58 



"Here it is, fellows," he drawled. "Not much to go on. Job was 
done early this morning before Roslein got here. Latch on the door 
was forced. Safe broken into, one hundred and seventy-five dollars 
gone. Suspect is a tall blond man that old Roslein saw hanging 
about the shop late last night for no good reason. Constable sur- 
mises he is the culprit and a search is about to go out for a tall 
blond man oh, yes scar on right temple. Got it?" 

"Got it." The others finished their hasty scribbling and began to 
saunter off. Joseph looked after them with unbelieving eyes. How 
could he write a story about that? There must be more to it maybe 
he had missed something by coming late. He ran after the one 
called Peters and pulled his arm. "Please I'm from the Westliche 
Post. What else is there? What time this morning did it happen? 
Why do they suspect the blond man?" 

"Why?" Peters interrupted an interesting conversation he was 
having with a friend. "I don't know what you mean. I gave you the 
story. That's all there is to it." 

Joseph was left staring after them. It was all right for them, per- 
haps. They were experienced and maybe they could take those 
simple facts and dress them up into a story. But if he took those 
few, bare notes back to Willich, he'd be fired. No question of it, 
he'd be fired. Besides, his own curiosity was aroused. He just had to 
find out more of what had happened. 

And Willich was in a hurry for this! 

He dashed back into Roslein's, nearly knocking down the portly 
figure of the policeman. 

"Watch where you're going. This store is closed. Police orders. 
Get out!" came the sharp command. 

"I'm from the Westliche Post." 

"Just gave all the information to the gentlemen of the press. If 
you want to know how to spell my name correctly, it's Backus 
B-a-c-k-u-s. Now you'll have to get out." 

Tiny and stooped, the proprietor of the shop smiled up at 

59 



Joseph. "Its all right, Constable. I know Mr, Pulitzer. I did not 
know you had a new position, though. Perhaps you came too late to 
confer with your colleagues outside? As a favor to me, Constable, I 
would like you to give this young man special consideration/' 
Grumbling, the officer told the story Joseph had heard before. 
"What time, exactly, do you think the robbery took place?" 
"About six, we place it. The watch had passed here just before 
that and found the door intact/' 

"Aren't there a good many people on the street by six? Workmen 
going to their jobs?" 

The constable looked uncomfortable. "Yes. I'm surprised myself 
that no one saw anything." 

"What time did you arrive, Mr. Roslein? Did you notice the door 
open?" 

"I came at six-thirty, my usual time. The door was closed but un- 
locked. It was not until I opened it that I noticed it had been 
tampered with." 

"And where is John Eggers, your assistant?" 
"I don't know," he said plaintively. "He hasn't shown up yet. 
But he did say yesterday he wasn't feeling well and I noticed, poor 
boy, that he was upset So I suppose he is home in bed." 

The constable had risen slowly and ponderously from his ex- 
amination of the safe. "What is this about an assistant? You never 
mentioned to me, Mr. Roslein, that you had an assistant. Didn't it 
strike you as unusual that he wasn't here?" 
"I just never thought about it. Should I have?" 
"Yes, you should have!" the constable thundered. "That one fact 
missing and I've been barking up the wrong tree. There was some- 
thing fishy about this all the time. A door broken in from outside 
and nobody on the street seeing it! The lock on that door not really 
damaged at all a poor attempt to make it look like it had been 
hammered at. And how did a blond stranger open this safe with so 
little trouble? I ask you! I'll bet my next pair of boots that this job 

60 



was done by your Mr. Eggers and he caught the seven o'clock west- 
bound train right after the robbery and I'll bet, too, we have our 
hands on him by tomorrow morning!" 

"Oh, dear!" Roslein fluttered. "Now that I think of it, John did 
have the combination to the safe and he has been wanting to go 
out west for some time." 

That was the story Joseph brought back with him but first, just 
to make sure, he hired a hackney cab to take him to the railroad 
station. Yes, a man who answered Eggers' description had boarded 
the seven o'clock train. 

He had enough details to fill half a column. Willich was sur- 
prised, but if he was pleased he hid it with crisp orders that kept 
Joseph running all over the city checking the details of a banquet 
for that evening, the names of illustrious visitors who had checked 
into the four major hotels that day, and a report of a new piece of 
sculpture donated to the city by a generous patron of the arts. 
Willich made some corrections to his copy but on the whole he had 
litde criticism to make. He was amazed. The young man was not 
doing badly at all. Joseph's nervousness had worn off and he was 
displaying an eagerness and a vitality for work that was unusual in 
reporters. 

"It's been the most wonderful day in my whole life," Joseph said 
to Davidson that evening, exulting. "Imagine them choosing me 
for such work. Work? it's not work at all!" 

"You don't have to tell me how you like it, Joseph. It shines out 
all over you. I have never seen you so happy. Perhaps this is just 
what you have been looking around' for all this time." 

"I think so, too. I go everywhere I see all kinds of people. I ask 
questions imagine getting paid for asking questions!" He picked 
up his pencil and thick wad of yellow paper with an air of pride 
and importance that did not escape his friend. "Will you excuse 
me? I have to go back to work." 

'Tonight, too?" 

61 



"Oh Willich doesn't know about it. I wanted to find out about 
a man named Simpson who registered at the Planters Hotel The 
porter told me he thought he was going under a false name and 
that he used to live in St, Louis and his real name is Leslie Cam- 
eron. I want to find out about that." 

Davidson watched his friend swing down the street, shoulders 
back, walking with a new kind of confidence. I think the laddie is 
growing up, he mused to himself, and maybe I have lost my pupil. 
It would have been nice to have had him turn into a schoolteacher 
like me, a quiet life or a lawyer but he must go his own way. 

The next morning Joseph proudly laid on Willich's desk the 
story that Simpson was really Cameron, as the porter had thought, 
and that the mystery man was hiding his identity because he was 
to be married to a Miss Clara Muller, over her father's objections, a 
story that had come out after Simpson-Cameron had had too many 
steins of beer to watch his tongue. 

Willich flung the copy aside. He cared nothing about that; he 
waved half a dozen newspapers at the unfortunate new reporter 
and exploded: 

"You imbecile! YouVe ruined us! All the rest of the papers say 
that a blond man did the robbery at Roslein's and what does the 
Westlkhe Post say? Why didn't you do what I told you to? Why 
didn't you get the story from Peters? No, I will not listen to you. 
You can tell your story to Mr, Schurz himself. I don't want him to 
think I am responsible for this mess. I want him to know I did my 
best; I told you what to do" Still furiously scolding, he pushed 
Joseph ahead of him up the stairs and into the publisher's office. 
"Mr. Schurz! Just look at this here! this story. I cannot be held 
responsible if you hire young men without any experience just be- 
because they play good chess. You forced me to take him" he was 
spreading the papers out on the desk in front of Schurz as he spoke. 
"Now, look!" 

Their employer studied the papers. "Hmmm. It does seem as if 

62 



you have biundered badly, Joe, How could such a thing have 
happened?" 

Joseph tried to explain. He was scared. It was his first lesson in 
how damaging an incorrect story could be to a newspaper. Yester- 
day he'd been so sure of himself but now his courage was leaking 
away fast. 

"The policeman said Eggers must have done it," he insisted. "I 
even went to the railway station to check and I thought that since 
he had run away it was certain he had done it" 

Til do the thinking around here," Willich snapped. 

"But it was Eggers/' a quiet voice came from the doorway. They 
all turned. It was Dr. Preetorius. "I just met Roslein on the street 
He told me Eggers was captured late last night and he has con- 
fessed. All the money was on him. I think, Louis, that the West- 
liche Post can run a story tomorrow about how our reporter helped 
to catch a criminal. We were the only newspaper to have the right 
story today." 

For once the city editor had nothing to say. Tongue tied, he 
swallowed painfully and went out, motioning Joseph to follow 
him. 

Schurz called out: "Stay a minute, Joe. I want to talk to you." 
The door closed behind Willich. "That was a good job for your 
first day. If you are as good at catching big crooks as you are little 
ones, Joe, I will train you to be a political reporter. Now this," he 
went on, holding up the copy of the Cameron-Simpson story which 
had accidentally slipped among the other papers, "I think I know 
something about this. Cameron is a gambler. He was run out of 
town once for operating crooked gambling houses. And Clara 
Muller? Her father is Karl Muller, a responsible businessman. 
What is more important, he is a police commissioner." 

Preetorius looked surprised. Schurz explained the marriage plans 
Joseph had discovered; then the doctor's face lit up with enlighten- 
ment. "Oh! So it is blackmail. If the police commissioner doesn't 

63 



give Cameron a license for a gambling saloon then Cameron 
threatens to marry his daughter. That fraulein is silly enough to be- 
lieve Cameron really loves her. You see, Joe? You have to dig to 
find out what is underneath/' 

Joseph nodded. Lesson number two: dig for the facts underneath. 

"I'll go out and see Mr. Muller. I'll get you the story," he prom- 
ised. 

Both men showed identical shocked faces. "A story? That is not 
a story. We wouldn't print that." 

"But why not? Can't we at least print that this man is a crook 
who was once run out of town and is now hiding under a false 
name at the Planters?" 

Schurz put a fatherly arm around his shoulders. "Joe yu must 
learn what goes into a newspaper and what does not. That is gossip. 
We do not give our readers rumors and speculation. Besides, we 
might hurt Karl Muller and he is a good Republican committee- 
man. Tell me, what do you think is the purpose of a newspaper?" 

"Why to give people the news, I would say." 

"But what kind of news? We do not have much space. We must 
select. And there is only one purpose, at least for us. We are a Re- 
publican paper; our duty is to the Republican party. Through the 
Westliche Post we try to educate people to the program of the 
Republican party, to reform and to good government." 

If this was lesson number three the new reporter did not take 
to it very well. He couldn't put it into words but it seemed to him 
that people liked to hear the kind of stories Schurz called 'gossip/ 
so why shouldn't they want to read about them? Why was a story 
about a Republican committeeman's daughter gossip and a story 
about a Democrat not gossip? Didn't the readers have a right to 
know everything? 

But it was not his place to say so. 

All that day he kept busy. Willich sent him to City Hall, to the 

64 



police courts, to the railway offices for news of passengers and to 
the hotels for news of their arrivals. 

After dinner that evening he stretched out on the lumpy feather 
bed in his room at Mrs. Augustus'. He spread all the city news- 
papers, one after another, down the counterpane. For a little while 
he looked at them and gloated over his story of the Roslein robbery 
and the false report in the other papers. Then he forgot his per- 
sonal triumph. His eyes grew thoughtful as he studied each news- 
paper, page by page. 

What was the purpose of a newspaper? Schurz had asked him. 
To print news, he had answered. The two publishers had smiled at 
him, as if his answer was too simple almost silly. 

Now he wondered about this. The Westliche Post was a Re- 
publican paper a radical Republican paper. It featured news 
about Congress debates, about tariff problems, about the scandals 
of the big monopolies railroad and lumber and steel dictating 
government policy to President Grant 

The other Republican papers had the same stories on Congress 
debates and tariff but they praised the Grant Administration. 

The Democratic papers also carried political stories mainly, even 
though their stories did nothing but criticize the Republicans from 
top to bottom. 

But where was the rest of the news? The Roslein story was 
buried in the back pages. There was very little else that Joseph 
would call news. Joseph leaned back on his pillow, shoving the 
newspapers onto the floor. Was it just his vanity that made him 
dissatisfied? He knew now that Schurz and Preetorius and all the 
rest of the editors considered political news the only kind fit for 
the front pages. But Joseph was thinking about the conversations 
he heard every night around the boardinghouse dinner table. Mrs. 
Augustus* roomers talked politics, to be sure. But they also talked 
about the accidents they had heard of during the day, the crimes 
that were rumored around the city, the little things and the big 

65 



things that were important to people about their jobs and their 
lives. 

Schurz said that was gossip. Perhaps it was. Perhaps he had no 
business thinking he knew what was news and what people 
wanted to read. After all, this was his first day as a reporter and 
who was he to set himself up against experienced editors? He would 
just have to stop thinking such things. 

Still thinking about them, he got up and wadded all the papers 
into a big ball and shoved them into a wastebasket. 

The next day, between assignments from Willich, Joseph found 
news stories. Even if they didn't get printed, he couldn't resist 
finding them. His lawyer friends told him of a bitter fight shaping 
up between two groups in the City Council over a water-right 
franchise. He found time to go down onto the docks. Just moseying 
.around there, he got an exclusive tip on the plans for a huge new 
coffee warehouse to be built that month. On the way back to the 
office he witnessed a free-for-all fight between two rival gangs of 
hackney drivers. It wasn't much of a fight with a lot more words 
exchanged than blows and Joseph wrote it up as a comedy story. 

He was able to find time for these extra stories because he lit- 
erally ran all day. When he came back to Willich he was panting, 
Jbut no sooner had he written his stories than he was out again, 
investigating a rumor that there had been food poisoning at the 
County Poorhouse. 

It was Preetorius who gave the orders to print Joseph's stories. 
Willich had come to him, confused. "What will we do with all 
these? I didn't assign him to pick up such stuff!" Preetorius had 
read them and liked them. They were well written. They had 
bounce and sparkle. 

'Take out that long serialized travel account of the steamboat 
journey down the Mississippi." Preetorius told the editor. "It takes 
three columns on page four and it puts me to sleep every time I try 



to read it. It's boring. Let's give Joe's stories a chance. The kid de- 
serves it for showing so much initiative." 

By the end of two weeks Willich was in a daze* This new re- 
porter absolutely bombarded him with stories. Joseph's news items 
were too good not to print and they had crowded the editor's own 
beloved travel stories of life along the Mississippi completely off the 
pages. From early morning until late at night Joseph was out about 
the city gathering news that no other paper had thought of. At first 
it was Willich who ran up and down the stairs, perplexed, to con- 
sult with the partners over the stories. Then it became easier to let 
this brash young man take the responsibility on himself. Finally, on 
any story of importance or of questionable taste the editor's desk 
was simply by-passed and Joseph went directly to the publishers on 
the third floor. 

Sales of the Westliche Post increased. Circulation figures went 

up. 

Reporters from other papers looked on uneasily, but with laugh- 
ter at first. That young man would burn himself out quickly-or 
his publishers would get burned themselves for meddling in things 
that were better left covered up. Schurz and Preetorius would soon 
put a stop to this Pulitzer's prying and nosing about, stirring up 
trouble. 

Joseph was no longer quite the figure of fun he had been in the 
Army but he was skinny and badly dressed. He wore thick glasses, 
and behind them his eyes gleamed with a fanatical absorption, a 
single-minded intensity that tickled the sense of humor of his fellow 
reporters. 

Get the story. Get the facts. Get the truth-and all of it. This 
was the fanaticism of his burning, headlong, never-satisfied pursuit 
of clue after clue, name after name, fact after fact. 

A story would break. It might be a fire in a department store. The 
newspapermen would gather in a dose and friendly knot and 
leisurely compare notes a comfortable distance from the flames* 

67 



Then, around the comer, loping his disjointed, rushing gait and 
hurrying because he had been halfway across town when he had 
seen the flames, would come the now-familiar figure of die re- 
porter from the Westliche Post. A shout would go up: 

"Here comes JOEY!" It was always good for a big laugh. 

"Where Ve you been, Joey? What's the rush, Joey? Buy us a 
beer and well give you the story hey, wait a minute, Joey you'll 
get your nose burned if you go in there!" 

But Joseph Pulitzer was going right past them, edging up as 
close to the burning building as he could get, buttonholing firemen 
and store employers and eyewitnesses and everyone he could find 
and coming out with discoveries that none of the other papers 
would be carrying in their pages the next morning. 

It wasn't long before city editors, wearing long, sober faces, be- 
gan to compare the pages of the Westliche Post with their own. 
The next step was to post them, side by side, on their bulletin 
boards for their reporters to note. And it wasn't long before these 
editors were furiously raking their staffs: Why weren't they bring- 
ing back the stories that this Pulitzer did? Why were they being 
beaten, time and time again, by this kid? Why didn't they go out 
and dig up stories as he was doing? 

Willich strutted around like a complacent turkey cock, but deep 
down he was disturbed* No matter how much he might boast, he 
could not hide the fact that he was not coaching Joseph; Joseph 
was doing everything on his own. The new reporter had been with 
the Post only three weeks but already he had an authority Willich 
did not dare question and an open door to the publishers' office on 
the third floor that not even the editor would dare to daim. For 
four days running, over half the columns in the entire paper had 
been written by this one man! Willich scanned the sheets for those 
four days stories of fire, flood, tragedy, social doings, crime and 
politics. How was it possible Joey had had time to find all these 



and write them all? If this went on, the publishers might feel they 
didn't need an editor at all. 

He'd put a stop to this. "Dr. Preetorius" he had summoned up 
enough courage to break in on a publishers' conference "I don't 
like to complain, you understand, but I do think I should be con- 
sulted on the stories we run. Yesterday three columns were set in 
type before I ever saw them oh, it was all right! Joseph had them 
okayed by you before he took them down. But I knew nothing of 
them! He writes badly. I would have rewritten them first. He has no 
turn for fine and elegant writing. It's not so bad a style for a report 
of a crime, but this story," he said, pointing to the second page, 
"is about that banquet of the Turnverein. It's too matter of fact. He 
tells where it happened and what it was for in the first paragraph, 
and in the second he just lists the names. Now look at the way this 
man Peters handled the same story in the Times-Recorder: 'the 
elegant flower of St. Louis society was assembled last night!' . . 
hmmmm . . . 'the distinguished guests and the brilliant and emi- 
nent speakers sat at the horseshoe table laden with beautiful floral 
displays and the costliest of fine cuisine' now that is the way we 
have been accustomed to writing such a story. This Pulitzer speaks 
too bluntly." 

"I know," Preetorius agreed with his editor, "but Joseph says 
people read such columns to find their own names printed. They 
don't want to wade through all this language to find out who was 
there and what was said. I can't argue with him. People do seem 
to like it better." 

"But it isn't good writing. I always think that we newspaper 
people are part of the literary world and have a tradition and a 
standard to maintain!" 

"He will learn," Schurz soothed him. "We have an idea, though, 
we should like to have your opinion about. What would you think 
of sending Joseph to Jefferson City when the state legislature con- 
venes next week?" 

69 



"We have always had a special correspondent there! ohjust a 
moment"-this would get the young man out of town and out of 
Willich s hair "Yes! I think it is an excellent idea. We will have 
to hire someone else to take his place here, but even though that 
means more work for me, I shall be glad to make the sacrifice for 
the good of the Westliche Post. Yes, I think Joseph should go- 
by all means!" 

Joseph in Jefferson City was an odd figure. But before there 
could be much merriment at his expense there was an almost im- 
mediate realization that he was someone to be reckoned with. In 
this field of politics he really shone. He upset all the old standard 
formulas for political journalism; he refused to accept the hand- 
outs of some ward politician and take any advice from them, even 
when they were promoters of the Republican party which the 
Westliche Post supported. Inside of a month he had beaten his 
way right into the center of the legislative whirlpool. 

He did an unprecedented thing. 

It was customary for reporters of Republican papers to attend 
only Republican caucus meetings and reporters of Democratic pa- 
pers to attend the Democratic caucuses. These were the meetings of 
real importance. Here it was that bills would be discussed and de- 
cisions made to support or reject; the voting on the House floor the 
next day was hammered out here. For two weeks Joseph went along 
with the custom. Then one day he heard the Democrats were to 
meet in secret caucus. 

Everyone was seated when he boldly walked in and took his 
place at the press table. 

'You can't come in here!" the chairman protested. 

"Why not? Is there something going on here that you don't want 
the public to know about? Are you afraid? Anyway, I'm in and I 
intend to stay in." And he did. 

Through a chance-met friend he got himself appointed clerk to 
jhe chairman of the State Senate Committee on Banks and Bank- 



ing. It wasn't much of a job and took very little of his time, but it 
gave him an entree into special committee meetings that no other 
reporter had. 

He traveled between Jefferson City and St. Louis every week. 
Most of his stories would have preceded him by mail or courier. He 
came to discuss the editorial policy, but not with Willich. Willich 
might think so. He would hear the door slam and the sound of 
Joseph's feet hurrying up the stairs; he would run out and try to 
stop him. 

"Joey just a moment I want to talk to you about " 

But Joseph was paying no attention. He was not being deliber- 
ately rude. His business lay with the third floor and the two pub- 
lishers. While the editor stared after him with mouth wide open irt 
astonishment Joseph would be striding into the publishers' office, 
shoving back a chair, opening his portfolio of reports and begin- 
ning breathlessly to give Schurz and Preetorius the inside story of 
what he had just seen in Jefferson City. 

If Professor Davidson was responsible for opening Joseph's eyes 
to the history of the world, to literature, to music, to a wide range 
of ideas, it was Carl Schurz who was his sponsor in political ideas. 
From him, like a thirsty plant, Joseph soaked up the principles that 
made Schurz one of the giants of the political scene his hatred of 
graft and corruption, whether inside his own party or any other; hi$ 
insistence that the rights of the workingman and the small business- 
man and fanner were just as important as those of the rich 
monopolists; his conviction that the abolition of slavery was not 
enough, without full economic and political rights for the Negro 
people. 

It was Carl Schurz's great hope that young Joseph Pulitzer would 
turn out to be a politician his kind of politician. 

"Our chess player, Emil that was a good gamble we took with 
him! I shall have him running for Congress one of these days." 

Dr. Preetorius sucked thoughtfully on his pipe. "I doubt that, 

71 



Carl. He is interested in politics, yes. But he is different he is not 
like us. Do you know what he is? A newspaper genius. To us a 
newspaper is a means to an end; primarily to give people the kind 
of truth that will help them vote for the right candidate and make 
the right kind of laws. But to Joey a newspaper is a voice for many 
things all kinds of stories, all kinds of facts. He says he thinks we 
should not only educate; we should be the means of letting people 
know everything that goes on in their city. He thinks we should 
even amuse them." 

"Amuse them! If people want that let them read Puck or one 
of those other comic weeklies!" Schurz was indignant. 

But his partner went on: "I see more of the lad than you do. 
You are often away in Washington. He is thrilled with his work in 
Jefferson City but it frets him that Willich has gone back to filling 
the rest of the paper with travel stories. Joey even suggested I 
thought Louis would have apoplexy on the spot! that we stop 
printing half the front page in advertisements; move them back to 
the fourth page and run stories that had excitement, like train 
wrecks, on the front page instead/' 

"I hope you are wrong, Emil, about his being a genius. Geniuses 
are troublesome and dangerous. He could be a danger to us/' 

'There is even a worse danger." 

'What is that?" 

"That we might lose that genius!" 

The two men would have been still more disturbed had they 
heard Joseph talking to Judge and Mrs. Woerner that evening at 
dinner. The artist Koeppler was a guest of the Woerners', too. He 
amused himself by drawing a quick sketch of Joseph, exaggerating 
the big head and nose, as he listened to his friend ask a shocking 
question. 

'Why does a newspaper have to support any one political party? 
Why can't it be independent?" 

The portly, dignified judge stared at Joseph. His wife smiled 



indulgently. Koeppler whistled in surprise, and added a mustache 
onto his picture to see the effect, 

"Joseph," the judge was stern, "you are an excellent reporter. 
Dr. Preetorius tells me you are the best reporter he has ever known. 
But I have noticed a tendency in you to get a little too big for your 
britches sometimes. You're a young man with a fine future ahead of 
you; I don't want to see you risk that future. Loyalty to one's party 
is as necessary as loyalty to one's friends.*' 

The judge's wife patted Joseph's hand. She had a motherly 
liking for him. "I don't think Mr. Schurz would like to hear you 
say things like that, Joey. It is almost as if you were criticizing him." 

Joseph felt their kindly rebuke was well meant, but he was 
stubborn. "I think Carl Schurz is a great statesman and a great 
American. But doesn't a newspaper have another kind of loyalty? 
loyalty to its readers? To tell them all the facts, unbiased and impar- 
tial, and let the public make up its own mind?" He rumpled his hair 
in frustration. "Let the editorial speak the editor's views. But keep 
the news pages independent of any party or any special interest" 

"Are you implying that Schurz is dishonest?" the judge was 
shouting in his anger. 

"Not at all, sir! The Westliche Post never twists or distorts a 
story. But it elects as all newspapers do to print only those stories 
which the publisher or editor feels is good for the public to hear. 
It is true there isn't enough space for everything. But if I were 
ever running a newspaper" 

"If you ever run a newspaper" the judge's laugh boomed out, 
cracking apart the tension that had crept into the room "if you ever 
do, you'll have more sense by then and you'll run it just the way it 
always has been!" 

The Westliche Post had the reputation of being fearless and 
incorruptible. Joseph soon earned for himself that same reputation. 
He was offered bribes and threw them into the faces of the bribers- 
and printed the story with their names. He became known as a 

73 



champion of the exploited public. Carl Schurz was proud of him. 
The pages of the Westliche Post bristled with exposes of lobbyists 
in the pay of railroads and gas companies and banks and manufac- 
turers who wanted bills passed in the state legislature to help them- 
selves at the expense of the public, 

Joseph was a new kind of newspaperman. His insatiable curiosity 
gave him an interest in his work; he was not just a paid employee 
of the paper, he was as responsible as the editor ai>d the publishers 
for what went into the Westliche Post. In St. Louis and in Jefferson 
-City his name became almost as well known as those of Schurz and 
Preetorius. He was ridiculed, hated, feared and resented by those 
he attacked. He was loved by a few close, personal friends. 

But between those who laughed at him and those who feared 
him there was an unspoken conspiracy to "get" Joey Pulitzer. 

Their chance came late in 1869. He was now twenty-two years 
.old and had been with the Westliche Post for over a year. He had 
just returned from the sessions in Jefferson City. The only political 
event of the slightest importance at that moment was the election 
of a representative from the Fifth District of St. Louis. The post 
had become open when the incumbent resigned. It was a solidly 
^Democratic district, the Fifth; there was no question that the new 
representative to be elected would have to be a Democrat. 

But, as a matter of form, the Republicans met to choose a can- 
didate. There was no chance of their winning; they were just going 
through the motions. 

The big convention room was stuffy with cigar smoke. On the 
platform the speaker was droning on and on about the glories of the 
Republican party. Hardly anyone was listening. Delegates whis- 
pered to each other, drew pictures on their programs, took cat naps 
in their seats and woke up only long enough to applaud one speaker 
and catch the opening remarks of die next. At the newspaper table 
the reporters were frankly bored. Someone suggested getting a 
Jbreath of fresh air and they all trooped out. 

74 



The speaker on die platform noticed their leaving and noticed, 
especially, the tall, gangling form of Pulitzer among them. It gave 
him an idea. He banged the gavel. Everyone jumped awake. 

"Listen, fellas," he told them, "let's face it. We ain't got a can- 
didate. IVe been making a fancy speech but you know as well as 
me that we don't stand a chance of electing anyone in the Fifth* 
We might as well have some fun outa it. Whattya say we nominate 
Joey Pulitzer?" 

For a second there was astonished silence. Then it was broken by 
a wild whoop of laughter. "I so move, Mr. Chairman!" The laughter 
became uproarious throughout the hall, "Second the motion!" 

"All in favor?*' the gavel banged down. "Voted unanimous. The 
candidate of the Republican party for the Fifth District of St. Louis 
is Joey Pulitzer!" 

The reporters heard the uproar and came running back. Joseph 
was called, unsuspecting, to the platform* "I give you" the chair- 
man could hardly speak for trying to keep a straight face "I give 
you the Pride of the Party, that fearless newspaperman, that cru- 
sader for the rights of the people, the next representative from the 
Fifth-Mr. Joseph Pulitzer of the Wesdiche Post!" 

"Hooray! Three cheers for Joey! altogether boys For He's a 
Jolly Good Fellow" the audience yelled. The chairman held up 
his hands for silence. "Let us hear a word from our candidate, boys/' 

The best part of the joke, of course, was going to be Pulitzer's 
own reaction to it. The delegates struggled to get their laughter 
under control. They could see Joseph's scarlet face and they won- 
dered how he was going to wiggle out of this one and keep any 
dignity doing it. 

He stood for a minute, perfectly still. The flush in his cheeks 
slowly ebbed and left him white and shaken. He was under no 
illusions. This was a coarse and bitter joke on him. It was a moment 
of the most terrible pain and humiliation. The jolt was the more 
severe because he had been too busy to care much what people 

75 



thought of him. He had believed that he was no longer sensitive 
to insults; Davidson and others had helped him to believe in him- 
self. Now again, as in the Army, they were stripping him of pride 
and dignity. 

If he had been a weak man or even an ordinary man the bitter- 
ness of this moment might have been his undoing. But they had 
underestimated his strength. He squared his thin shoulders. 

"I think I know the spirit in which you have chosen me and I 
will not thank you for it" By now he spoke English purely and 
grammatically but when he was deeply emotional there was still a 
trace of the German in the guttural vowels and the thickening of t 
into d. It happened now. "But I believe, even if you do not, that 
there is a chance to win this election if the candidate will campaign 
honestly and truthfully and go right to the people. I accept the 
nomination/' 

This was a shock. They hadn't meant it to be taken in earnest. 
In complete silence the delegates watched him leave the hall. Who 
could have expected Joey to take them seriously? A few titters were 
heard but were quickly hushed. Sober faced and discomfited, the 
convention hastily adjourned to wait and wonder for developments. 

For a week he let them wonder. 

He told Davidson of his decision and asked his advice. What 
should he do first? ''Buy yourself some decent clothes, laddie/' came 
the prompt reply. He did so and was astonished at the difference 
it made. The past year of eating well on a good salary had put 
meat on his bones. He was beginning to fill out his big frame at 
last. And his face, while it still had the high, prominent Magyar 
cheekbones, was losing the boniness of adolescence and taking on 
a smoother leanness. It was amazing what a good collar did for that 
face! What next should he do? "Grow a beard, laddie/' And in a 
short while he had a pointed, reddish, curly beard. It added years 
to his age. 

Now he was ready. He began his campaign. 

76 



He visited homes. He talked to housewives and their neighbors, 
to storekeepers and their customers, to small and big crowds on 
street corners. He spoke both in German and in English, He was 
surprised to find that so many people already knew his name. 
"You're the Pulitzer who writes for the Westliche Post? You write 
the stories about those crooks in Jefferson City? You're the one 
knows all about the graft in City Hallr" His reputation brought 
him a ready audience. They believed him when he said he would 
fight dishonesty wherever he found it no matter in which party, 
even though he ran on the Republican ticket. This was a very 
different kind of candidate from what the voters were used to. 
Too well they knew the other kind who gave them a picnic or a 
barbecue once a year and made speeches extolling the virtues of 
the glor-r-rious old Republican party or the gr-r-rand old Democratic 
one. 

He was elected. It was an upset that sent a shock throughout the 
whole of political Missouri. 

At that time, with Missouri emerging from backwoods settle- 
ments, with settlers moving in to farm and settlers moving out 
to go west, with railroads threading the whole state, with new 
towns and cities mushrooming, graft, corruption and bribery and 
outright thievery of public funds flourished with colossal impu- 
dence. There were honest men in office but they were handicapped 
by having little power. Now another honest man had been elected. 
This one, however, was to be feared. He had the mighty power of 
the press behind him. 

Pulitzer soon saw that he couldn't correct every evil. Wisely, he 
concentrated on a few. 

St. Louis at that time had a peculiar government; rather, it had 
two governments. The mayor and council were elected. The County 
Court was chosen, in a strange way, by a handful of residents. It 
had powers of absolute dictatorship over who should be county 
officials for poorhouse and hospital and insane asylum, who should 

77 



be charity superintendent and so on. The County Court had a big 
treasury, accountable to no one but themselves. Since they gave out 
contracts for the building of county institutions here was a fine 
opportunity for graft, and Joseph knew enough to realize the Court 
was holding a tight lid over a stinking, rotten mess. 

He set about to expose them. He was going to lift that lid. 

Just at that time a new insane asylum was being hurried along. 
Several hundred thousand dollars had already been spent. The 
County Court was congratulating itself that it could go as high as 
a million without much protest from the public, with a good deal 
of that million sticking to individual fingers in passing. The con- 
tract was let to a Captain Edward Augustine for the building. 

Joseph Pulitzer rose on the floor of the Missouri House of Repre- 
sentatives to make his maiden speech. His proposal? a bill to 
fiholisk the County Court. 

By the time he finished speaking the House was bedlam. Hard 
names, insults, challenges to duels were being thrown back and 
forth across the room as supporters of the County Court or the City 
Council took their stand for or against the bill. It was introduced 
but not yet passed. Whether they were for or against, big-time 
political machines were startled. An upset apple cart in one place 
might eventually tip theirs over, too. 

Joseph's friends were alarmed for his safety. "People have been 
known to murder when a million-dollar profit is at stake. You're 
a young sprat and the whale could swallow you up in one bite," 
they warned. 

He waged the fight in the pages of the Westliche Post. He had 
visited the half-constructed insane asylum and he had forced the 
court to disgorge some of its bills and a few of its accounting 
figures. Even on the basis of this partial accounting it was obvious 
that the asylum's real cost was only a fraction of the money spent. 
Where had the rest gone? He attacked Captain Augustine by name, 
jas well as the rest of the county officials. 

78 



The Christmas season of 1869 Joseph had spent working in this 
way. He had managed only a few evenings to celebrate with David- 
son and with his friends Judge Woerner and Koeppler, the artist. 
Now it was January and he was back in Jefferson City speaking 
and writing to bring his bill out of committee and onto the floor 
for a vote. 

On January 27th he dined at the Schmidt Hotel with another 
newspaperman. They had finished the main course and were now 
relaxing over coffee and cigars when a man shouldered his way 
past the waiter to their table. He was a huge man, muscular and 
bull necked, and he towered over the slighter form of Pulitzer with 
a menacing fury. 

It was Augustine. 

"You called me a crook!" Augustine's bellow could be heard all 
over the startled dining room. "Well I'm calling you a dirty liar!" 

In those times there was no worse insult, unless it be to call 3 
man a horse thief. A duel was the only proper result of such a 
challenge. To fight with fists marked one as a common brawler 
and a hoodlum; guns were the weapon of gentlemen. Augustine 
was displaying a pistol in a shoulder holster. There was only one 
thing for Joseph to do. He excused himself to his friend. "Wait 
here/* he said to Augustine, climbed the stairs to his room and got 
his own pistol. When he returned he called to Augustine so that 
the other was facing him and repeated the other's words so as to 
make the duel proper and formal: "I call you a liar, Augustine" 
and fired. 

Whether he was taken by surprise, whether he really did not 
expect Joseph to be brave enough to stand up to him, was not 
certain, but Augustine, hit in the kg by the bullet, did not return 
the fire. He held onto a chair for a second while screams and 
shouts resounded throughout the dining room. Someone else 
knocked the gun out of Joseph's hand, and when Augustine saw 
Joseph unarmed, he leaped on him and unmindful of the pain in 

79 



his leg beat him over the head with the butt of his gun. Both men 
were bleeding when they were torn apart. 

Walter Gruelle, Joseph's newspaper friend, helped him to his 
room and bandaged his head. The next day Gruelle's story in the 
St. Louis Dispatch showed his own reactions to the affair: 

Jefferson City, Jan. 28, 1870 The exciting topic this morn- 
ing is the shooting affair at Schmidt's Hotel. I think this is 
overdone. At least, Pulitzer is blamed more than he ought to 
be. As I told him last night, after he reached his room, I had 
a great notion to shoot him for aiming at Augustine's breast 
and hitting him only in the leg. Bad marksmanship is to be 
deprecated on all occasions, and when a member of die press 
and a legislator, to boot essays to burn gunpowder I want him 
to go the whole hog 

The "blame" Gruelle spoke of was the howl that went up from 
the enemies of Pulitzer and the Westliche Post. But almost as 
rapidly as his flesh wound healed, so did the flurry of excitement 
die down. In the Police Court he was fined five dollars for violating 
a city ordinance shooting inside a closed room. A House resolution 
to investigate the shooting was tabled for want of support. Powerful 
friends of Augustine and the County Court did succeed in getting 
the reluctant police to arraign Pulitzer on a charge of assault to 
Jdll, but equally powerful supporters of the opposite faction put up 
the money to defend him. Prosecution was delayed until finally it 
was postponed indefinitely. 

The publicity over the shooting did almost more than Joseph's 
pleading and Joseph's columns. It brought home to the public the 
desperate nature of the grafters; they realized that only big money 
could tempt men to such lengths as Augustine had gone. The 
contract was nullified. The County Court was exposed and the 
Pulitzer bill was passed to abolish it. 

When his term of office as legislator was over Joseph received an 

80 



unexpected and a high honor. Governor Brown appointed him one 
of the three police commissioners of the city of St Louis. 

He was not yet twenty-four. He had become a state power, a 
city official, and while he still held the tide only of reporter for the 
Post, he was in reality as much of an authority there as were Schurz 
and Preetorius. The paper had grown in circulation and in stature. 

Now the nation was in the throes of a presidential election year. 
Grant was campaigning for another term. The Westliche Post 
opposed him, joined a splinter Republican group and thumped 
for Horace Greeley. Joseph, as chief political writer for the Post, 
had become such a popular figure in the minds of the people his 
spell as a legislator having built him up as a champion of right 
against wrong that he was asked to go out into the state as a 
campaign speaker for Greeley. Davidson heard one of these 
speeches and was surprised. He watched the slender figure on the 
platform outlined in black and white against the flaring yellow 
torchlights and he marveled. "Such a force in him! Is this the same 
boy who used to look at me over a cup of tea with his wide, eager 
eyes and ask me questions till they tripped over his tongue? He 
is a man, now, and with the strength to lead other men!" 

He could lead them to believe in his own sincerity but not to 
vote for Greeley. Grant won the election. 

Schurz and Preetorius called a conference in the Westliche Post 
office. The defeat was a stunning blow to them. They were far 
more concerned with the political battles they must now face, for 
their ideals and principles, than they were with the future of the 
newspaper. However, it was a casualty of the defeat; they saw no 
hope for the Post to continue; they must come to a decision about it. 

"Circulation is almost entirely gone. We represent a lost cause 
in the minds of the public and the public has deserted us," Schurz 
explained. "Advertisements, of course, went first No one wants to 
be associated with a Greeley paper not with a Grant victory." 

81 



Preetorius was gloomy. 'We had better sell the Post before we 
get into debt and while we still have some assets/' 

Joseph argued with them. "It is only temporary. A campaign is 
forgotten almost as soon as it is over and the Westliche Post has a 
long and good record. True, its reputation has suffered. But if we 
strike out boldly stop campaigning for anything except local issues 
get stories that no one else will print I tell you well pull 
through! The readers will come back." 

The two publishers exchanged glances. They had gambled once 
before on this "chess player" of theirs. Maybe he had some new 
moves up his sleeve. Maybe they should take a chance. 

To their great surprise, before they could speak, Louis Willich 
made his declaration. 

"Joe is right But if it is to be done, then he is the one to do it. 
I think/ 1 he said, swallowing painfully, "that he should be the 
editor of the Post. Not me. I will resign or I will work for him, 
whichever he wants. Because he is the only one who can save the 
Post/' 

This from a man who knew he was a competent editor, who was 
vain and ambitious! It was Joseph's first realization that a man 
could love a newspaper even more than he loved himself. 

Carl Schurz slipped his arm around the editor's shoulders. "That 
is generous of you, Louis," he said, "but not necessary. Emil and I 
realize, too, that Joseph is the one to run this paper. He can do 
it best, not as editor, but as publisher and part owner. We three 
are getting older. He is young and vigorous and filled with new 
ideas." He smiled. "Let Joey do the worrying for all of us." 

Joseph was stunned. The others could not possibly have under- 
stood what this meant to him. At that moment his ambitions took 
on a clarity he had not been sure of before. No political victory, 
no political job, no success as a lawyer could possibly have stirred 
the wild joy that was beating inside of him now. But the partners 

82 



took his stunned silence for deliberation and they hastened to 
assure him: 

"We will let you buy in with us on very liberal terms, Joe! For 
practically nothing. You have saved something, surely. A few thou- 
sand dollars? Whatever you have will be all right with us." 

He pulled himself together. "Very well. I accept. But if I take 
the responsibility I must also have the authority. I must have the 
final word on policy." 

"Didn't I tell you, Carl?" Dr. Preetorius got up to shake hands 
with their new partner. "Always the chess player, this Joe. Always 
a move ahead of us. A free hand you will have but just be careful 
you don't sweep us all off the board!" 



83 



five 



The Pulitzer regime lasted only a few short months before 
Schurz and Preetorius more frightened than ever grabbed their 
beloved Westliche Post away from Joseph. 

In those months the Post regained its lost circulation and even 
gained new readers; to do this Joseph shook up the paper from the 
top floor to the printing room below street level. The poetical prose, 
so admired by Willich, went to the back pages in an occasional 
essay in Missouri wild flowers or family etiquette or the recollec- 
tions of an Indian fighter. Crime news, accident news, political 
news moved to the front pages. A new reporter was hired and 
trained to write as Joseph wanted: short, factual sentences, what 
happened, where it happened, names and dates and places. 

The public seemed to like the changes, but the two old partners 
thought he was going too far. They knew he was going too far 
when they found that his idea of political news was to print any 
story that came his way regardless of whether it reflected on the 
Democratic or Republican party, or whether or not it boosted the 
German community in St. Louis. 

"He' 11 get us into trouble, Carl," Emil moaned. "I cannot even 
recognize our paper any more. The Westliche Post is not a digni- 
fied journal any more; it is a grab bag." 

They bought Joseph out. He would have fought to stay except 
for one thing: he was alarmed for his health. He had worked 

84 



around the clock these last months. A doctor advised him that 
unless he took a rest he might develop serious lung trouble. Joseph 
doubted this but he was worried over his constant throbbing head- 
aches caused by the increased strain to his overworked eyes. 

His price was thirty thousand dollars. 

At twenty-five years of age he was a rich man. Although he was 
dazed by it, the money had no meaning for him; rest and leisure 
were just words in somebody else's vocabulary. For years he had 
been running, running, running hungry, eager, driven and now, 
suddenly, there was no place to run to and no need to run. 

He left St. Louis without even saying good-by to his friends. 
Not until he was halfway across the ocean, bound for his old 
home and his family, did Joseph begin to recover. The headaches 
left him. His health returned and with it full consciousness of his 
great good fortune. 

In the old, familiar brick house in Budapest he was welcomed 
with tears and with love. Louise Politzer-Blau was beside herself 
with joy. "Look I have to reach up now to box his ears; my Joseph 
is so tall!" And Joseph, man that he was at twenty-five, felt his 
face wet with tears. She was as unchanged to him, as beautiful, as 
loving as he had remembered her to be. 

But the home was not as he had thought about it all these years. 
His stepfather was a good man but only a fair businessman. He 
had not earned thirty thousand dollars when he was only twenty- 
five years old! Max Blau was jealous and his jealousy made him 
doubt Joseph. "A police commissioner a newspaper owner! Your 
Joseph is just bragging. The son wants the mamma to believe he 
is a big man in his America," he grumbled to his wife. 

Albert, the younger brother, was torn between hero worship of 
Joseph and the fear that perhaps the stepfather was right. One 
moment he would follow his strange, foreign brother around the 
house like a shadow, trying to act just as Joseph acted, dreaming 

85 



of becoming just what Joseph was; the next moment he would jeer 
at him in the same words as the stepfather. 

The age difference between Joseph and Albert had widened too 
much. Albert had no experiences to match his older brother's, 
He listened with awe to the stories of America; they were hard to 
believe. "But I will come to see you in this city of St. Louis, yes? 
Please?" he begged. 

On his return voyage Joseph had time to think. He made 
leisurely visits to New York and to Washington. Why did he feel 
at home here and such a stranger in Budapest? 

He was completely, wholly, an American. Love for America had 
entered deep into the very core of his being. But why? Was it so 
different from other countries? There was evil in it as well as good. 
There were dishonest men, men whose god was the Almighty 
Dollar and who committed crimes in the name of that god. They 
held too much power. They stayed safely behind in the cities, 
while other men ran risks of death and danger to find the rich 
timberland of the West and the good bottomland for farming and 
the shining ore in the mountains and then, when the pioneers had 
staked their claims with a bit of string and a stick of wood and 
given that claim their strength and love, the Almighty Dollar came 
in and took it all away. 

Why, then, did he love America so much? The answer was 
simple because of the promise of freedom and equality. The nation 
had fought for that promise twice, once in the Revolution and 
again in the Civil War. The promise said there should be no 
princes, no serfs, no masters and no slaves; a man should have the 
right to his opinions, regardless of right or wrong. Could he have 
spent an evening in Budapest as he used to in Roslein's Bookstore 
in St. Louis, where every Friday night men gathered to talk and 
argue? English Chartists, French Socialists, German Marxists all 
of them had come to America to find freedom of speech. He had 

86 



heard hundreds of ideas put forth that would, in the opinion of 
this man or that, change the country for the better. 

These ideas did not tempt him. Pulitzer was a reformer, not a 
changer. But he respected these men even if he didn't agree with 
them; they had come to America for the freedom to speak their 
minds. If they lost that freedom, then the America he loved would 
no longer exist. 

Davidson met him at the St. Louis Depot on his arrival home. 
"You've been gone a long time," the schoolteacher grumbled as the 
two walked to the curb. He hailed a carriage driver. 'What kept 
you? You wrote from New York you would be back in a week." 

"I stayed longer in Washington than I expected to. It was well, 
it was very pleasant there." Joseph turned his head away quickly. 
He picked up a big suitcase and began to stow away his luggage 
on the floor of the carriage. But he had not turned his head quickly 
enough; Davidson had seen the color rise in his face and the secre- 
tive smile that twisted the corner of his mouth. 

What was the mystery? But before he could ask questions he 
heard Joseph say: "To the Lindell Hotel, driver/' The taller, 
younger man leaped into the carriage and pulled Davidson in after 
him with a boyish energy that conflicted with the new maturity of 
his face and his body. 

"The Lindell, lad?" 

"That's right, Thomas. IVe moved from Mrs. Augustus'. Koep- 
pler stays at the Lindell and so do some of his friends. He has been 
trying for nearly a year to get me to move there." They were just 
passing a stable when Joseph yelled "Stop!" to the astonished 
carriage driver, leaped over the wheels while they were still mov- 
ing and, with a quick "Be just a second!" ran into the stable. 

In no time at all he was back. "Just wanted to see if they still 
had that brown mare for sale. They did, so I bought her." He 
setded back into the carriage and they drove off once again. 

Davidson marveled. "New clothes all these suitcases full of 

87 



them. You buy a horse, go to a new hotel what has happened to 
you, Joseph?" 

"I suddenly realized," Joseph answered, smiling broadly, "that I 
have some new lessons to learn. I have to find out how to enjoy 
myself. Do you know that since I was a child I haven't played or 
had fun? IVe worked around the dock, day and night. Now it is 
time to discover some of the good things in life." 

'Well, have your fun. You've earned it. But don't expect me to 
go roistering about with that crowd of Koeppler's." 

Koeppler's friends, the gayest blades and the most fashionable 
young men of all St. Louis, with reputations for having considerable 
polish and culture and drawing-room sophistication, waited for 
Joseph that night in Koeppler's hotel room. They had planned 
dinner first, at the best restaurant, and then they were bound for 
the play at the Opera House. 

None of them, except their host, knew Pulitzer well. They were 
worried because he had been invited. 

"It's all right for you to be charitable, Arthur, because you are 
fond of the fellow, but think of the rest of us! We have no way 
of knowing how a newspaperman behaves in polite company he 
is more used to police courtrooms and investigating murders in 
saloons," a banker's son fretted. 

Arthur Koeppler told them: "You needn't worry. He has good 



manners." 



''But he has bad politics, my good chap. He's a wild man, a 
radical. There's no getting away from that. I heard him make a 
speech. He was so intense he even looked wild. Couldn't we have 
introduced him to society in a small way first? I don't relish sitting 
in an opera box with everyone staring." 

The door opened and they stopped talking. They watched Joseph 
Pulitzer walk into the room and four jaws dropped and four mouths 
widened in gaping surprise. 

The man who had come in was a man transformed. The well- 



cut evening clothes showed a form that had finally matured and 
grown into the wide shoulders and the big bones. Joseph was still 
slender but it was the slenderness of strength and muscle; the 
black, satin-lined evening cloak hung on him with grace. But more 
than the physical appearance was the distinction with which he 
carried himself and the rugged nobility of his head. He gave the 
impression of imposing stature and intellectual power. Even the 
banker's son was impressed and he looked with envy at the style 
of the snowy white cravat and the white silk scarf, the fawn-colored 
gloves and the gold-topped cane, thinking to himself that it was 
these things that made the difference. 

Koeppler exclaimed: "Joe, you're a darned handsome man!" 

Pulitzer took a look at himself in the long, gilt-edge pier mirror. 
What was Koeppler talking about? The clothes were elegant, true 
the product of New York's best tailors but he was seeing the same 
big cheekbones, the same prominent nose, the high forehead of 
the immigrant boy and the army boy and the boy who had bummed 
rides on freight trains and had frozen and roasted that night on 
the St. Louis ferry. The beard, short, reddish and pointed in the 
Vandyke fashion, changed it somewhat and gave a balance to the 
face, but to him it was still the face that people made fun of. He 
shrugged with indifference. Did thirty thousand dollars in the 
bank make a man handsome? 

He was wrong. What Koeppler saw, and what he himself could 
not recognize, was the character and strength and achievement 
written in his face that attracted like a magnet. 

For several weeks he enjoyed all the fun that St. Louis had to 
offer. It was both unexpected and pleasant to find himself sought 
after, particularly by parents who wanted him to meet their daugh- 
ters. He had become a very eligible young man for marriage. 
Every morning he exercised his brown mare, usually with a pretty 
girl riding at his side; every evening found him at a party, a dance 
or a dinner, and with a different female partner each night. 

89 



In the midst of all this he took a few days out to make another 
small fortune. 

The Staats-Zeitung, a German newspaper, was about to fold 
up. Joseph heard about it; he also knew that it held that rare 
thing, an Associated Press franchise and that another paper, the 
Morning Globe, had just been launched, without this franchise, 
Joseph bought the Staats-Zeitung for practically nothing. Everyone 
thought he was crazy. He wasn't. He had no use for the Stoats- 
Zeitung, but the day after he purchased it he sold the franchise to 
the Morning Globe for twenty thousand dollars. What little 
equipment there was left of the old Staats-Zeitung he let go to the 
sheriff for unpaid taxes. 

Now the mammas and the papas not only had to respect him as 
a clever newspaperman but also as a clever businessman. He be- 
came a fine prospect, indeed. Invitations, handwritten and delicately 
scented, poured into his mailbox at the Lindell Hotel for teas and 
evening musicales. 

They were a little upset when he took another small venture into 
politics. For a future son-in-law this young Pulitzer had such 
uncomfortable ideas! 

He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention called to 
revise the old Missouri Convention which had been passed in 
1865, and as a delegate he was free to speak without ties to any 
political party. His biggest fight was for free public schools. 

He also spoke against the trusts and monopolies which were 
placing a strangle hold on the free enterprise of the state: 

I heartily despise demogogical appeals against the rich, or 
any particular class, but this question is so grave that it must 
be treated without gloves. The growth of the money power 
in this country has been fabulous, and its connections with 
and interest in the Government is alarming. We all want 
prosperity, but not at the expense of liberty. Poverty is not as 

90 



great a danger to liberty as is wealth, its corrupting, demor- 
alizing influences. Let us have prosperity, but never at the 
expense of liberty, never at the expense of real self-govern- 
ment, and let us never have a Government at Washington 
owing its retention to the power of the millionaires than to 
the will of the millions. 

This statement was a formula Pulitzer was to hold to and fight 
for all the rest of his life. 

Idleness was becoming unpleasant. He was restless. His friends 
advised all sorts of business ventures to occupy him and all sorts 
of entertainment to divert him. The mammas and papas increased 
their efforts to interest him in their daughters. When he suddenly 
announced that he had secured the position as special correspond- 
ent to Charles Dana's New York Sun everyone was delighted, but 
when he added that the position was not in St. Louis but in Wash- 
ington, D.C. there was consternation. Why Washington? There 
were plenty of such correspondents' jobs in St. Louis. 

Ever since his return Joseph had kept a secret. On his trip back 
from Europe he had stopped off in Washington and there he had 
met a girl. He had fallen in love. Only Thomas Davidson knew 
her name. He had pried the mystery out of his friend. 

'Tour Kate you say she is bonny? As bonny as your lovely 
mother?" touching the miniature on Joseph's desk. Davidson had 
come to say good-by to his friend. "But does she love you, Joseph?" 

Even to Davidson he disliked putting his most intimate thoughts 
into words. "I think so, though it hardly seems possible that she 
would choose me when she is so beautiful and accomplished and 
charming that half the men in Washington are after her to marry 
them. I only know I cannot find out if I'm in St. Louis and she is 
in Washington." 

"And her family? Do they approve of their bairn being courted 
by you? 

91 



Joseph looked up from his packing and his mouth hardened into 
a grim line. Then it relaxed. He smiled. "Her father is William 
Worthington Davis don't you know how important that name is, 
you ignorant Missourian? He is first cousin to Jefferson Davis and 
tiptop society in Washington. I am competing with men who have 
so much money it makes my thousands look like peanuts. I've been 
elected to a hackwoods state legislature; Kate has one suitor who 
is an ambassador. I ran a newspaper for a few months; Kate could 
have her pick among men who run million-dollar industries. But/' 
he added, picking up a packet of letters written in a dainty femi- 
nine hand and bouncing them in the palm of his hand, his smile 
broadening to a big, boyish grin, "I think she likes me very much, 
Thomas. It's a miracle, but I think she does." 

When he walked into the drawing room of the Davis home a 
fortnight later there was no further doubt in his mind. Kate saw 
him clear across the throng of other guests; the expression on her 
face, caught off guard, of frank delight and open warmth told him 
all he needed to know. She was beautiful. Her thick curls were 
piled on top of her head and caught there by a velvet band that 
was no more velvety than the smooth apricot of her cheeks or the 
smooth arch of her eyebrows. "I didn't expect you so soon, Mr. 
Pulitzer," she was saying, both hands caught in his, but her eyes 
were saying why have you stayed, away so long? 

The miracle was accomplished. Kate loved him. 

It was not so easy to sell himself as a son-in-law to the Worthing- 
ton Davises, however. They liked him but they did not approve of 
him. He had no great fortune, no family of standing in America, 
and worse yet no settled profession or career. Even though their 
questions were delicately stated, Joseph reacted with stiff and 
furious pride. He became haughty, even toward Kate. He would 
show them. 

He qualified as a lawyer in Washington but this was only a 

92 



gesture. He had no intention of practicing law. Somewhere in the 
field of journalism there must be an opening he could find. He 
began a frantic search: one day he would hear of something in 
New York and run there a prospect would open up in Baltimore 
and he would rush there back to Washington for a few days then 
off to New York again or Boston or Philadelphia or St. Louis. 

All this might impress the parents but it was plain disturbing 
to Kate. It was certainly a most peculiar long-distance courtship and 
she didn't like it. 

Her letter caught him, this time, in St. Louis. His answer was 
immediate: 

St. Louis, Sunday noon, 1878 
My dearest Kate: 

What better answer can I make than this, that I shall re- 
turn tomorrow evening? Have you not conquered, no? Yes. 
... If you knew how much I thought of you these last days 
and how the thought of you creeps in and connects with 
every contemplation and plan about the present and future, 
you would believe it. I have an ideal of home and love and 
work the yearning growing greater in proportion to the 
glimpse of its approaching realization. I am almost tired of 
this life aimless, homeless, loveless, I would have said but 
for you. I am impatient to turn over a new leaf and start a 
new life one of which home must be the foundation, affec- 
tion, ambition and occupation the cornerstones, and you, my 
dear, my inseparable companion. Would I were not so stupid 
always to be serious and speculative! Would I had your abso- 
lute faith and confidence instead of my philosophy! . . . 

There, now, you have my first love letter . . . don't, of course, 
show my letters to anybody. I can't bear that thought 

Good-by till Wednesday* 

J.P. 

93 



Kate, reading this, must have smiled. Her funny Joseph! to 
worry about being "serious and speculative." This was just what 
she liked about him. Everything mattered to him more than to most 
people; he cared so deeply that his passion and intensity made him 
seem stern at times. She understood. And if her faith and confi- 
dence were what he needed then let there be no more nonsense 
about postponing the wedding. She didn't need the reassurance of 
his having a job to have faith in him. 

They were married in the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany 
in Washington, in the same church where the bride's parents had 
been wed thirty years before. 

They went to Europe for their honeymoon and were gloriously 
happy. Joseph discovered in Kate a companion such as he had 
never known. The people he had loved best before were serious, 
learned men like Davidson. It was a new experince to him to find, 
in Kate, both a firm mind and a frivolous one, a gift for making 
him laugh and at the same time a talent for listening to him and 
understanding him. 

When they returned to St. Louis Joseph had no job and his 
money was dwindling fast. Kate was buoyantly optimistic. She 
laughed at his worries. 

"Maybe you'll find another franchise to sell," she reminded him. 
The story of this coup had amused her; she thought her husband 
a very clever man for having thought of it. 

This was an idea, so while Kate busied herself setting up 
housekeeping at 2929 Washington Avenue, buying as little furni- 
ture as possible in order not to put a further strain on their 
diminishing resources, Joseph 'looked around" again. Immediately 
he saw a likely-looking venture. It was almost a duplicate of the 
Staats-Zeitung deal. 

The newspaper was the St. Louis Dispatch. It was on the rocks 
with old, nearly worn-out equipment and a bank credit that was 
exhausted. It did have a building, a good one, and a press and 

94 



type, but these latter two were in poor shape. The Dispatch was up 
for sale and its one advantage was its Associated Press franchise 
which Pulitzer had a strong hunch he could dispose of profitably 
to the St. Louis Post, which had none. He decided he could offer 
twenty-five hundred dollars for the Dispatch and agree to take over 
the thirty-thousand-dollar lien against it. If he sold the franchise 
to one bidder and the building to another he would certainly come 
out well ahead. 

His was the only bid. The auction was held at the courthouse 
steps on the morning of December 9, 1878, and five minutes after 
the sale was announced and the auction opened, Pulitzer was the 
owner of another newspaper. Five minutes later three other excited 
bidders showed up but they were too late. 

The sight of those other bidders made him thoughtful. Were 
they after the franchise, as he was, or was it actually possible they 
thought the Dispatch could be brought back to life as a functioning 
newspaper? 

That day he steadfastly refused to go near his new possession. 
He didn't want to see it. There were several offers for the franchise 
and good offers, but for some reason he couldn't seem to make up 
his mind. 

The next morning, with a strange, mixed feeling of reluctance, 
wariness and an unaccountable excitement, he went to look at the 
Dispatch. From the outside the building looked substantial. He 
fitted his key into the door and opened it. His eyes slowly adjusted 
to the gloomy darkness and what he saw appalled him. This was 
what he had bought sight unseen? Shabby, dirty walls, flimsy 
partitions knocked together any old way to mark off cubicles and 
rooms, windows unwashed, rickety chairs and tables but these 
were not the worst. He waded through a solid pile of litter in the 
anteroom, past a disheveled mass of old papers, rags and torn 
blankets which had served as a bed under the staircase for tramp 
printers in exchange for a few days' work. He opened a grimy door 

95 



into the cement-floored, icy-cold room where the press was. At 
least it was a big and efficient-looking room! but his heart sank as 
he looked at the press. It was in bad shape. 

He heard footsteps overhead. He rang for the elevator and 
waited. 

"Mr. Pulitzer?" a man's head appeared at the top of the stair 
well. "That elevator isn't working, sir. You'll have to walk up, I'm 
Briggs. I've been putting out the paper every day but I didn't know 
what you wanted to do about it." 

Upstairs, the six men of the Dispatch staff crowded around him. 
They showed him the copy they had already put into type. He 
turned his face away from the pleading in their eyes; he knew what 
they were asking him. 

"Go ahead. But just for this one day!" he said, brusquely. 

He walked upstairs to the next floor, silently and sorrowfully 
cataloguing the repairs needed, the new equipment that would be 
necessary if he caught himself up sharply. What could he be 
thinking about! He had bought this paper only to sell the franchise 
for the quick profit in it, nothing more. 

By the time he was through with the tour of the top floor the 
forms of type were set up for the day's edition. He watched the 
staff pick up the forms and carefully, gently, carry them over to 
the stairs; one of the men got in front of the form to steady it and 
another two balanced it from behind. 

"What do you think you're doing?" Pulitzer cried out, horrified. 

The forms went bumpbump-bumping down the stairs. Briggs 
hastily explained. "It's the elevator, Mr. Pulitzer. It hasn't worked 
in a long time so this is the only way we can get the forms down 
to the printers." 

This was too much. Pulitzer jammed his hat on his head and 
strode out. He poured all of his outrage out on Kate. 

"It's indecent! A newspaper is like a living thing to me how 
could they have let it get into such a shape as that? Like a child, 

96 



a paper can get sick and maybe even die, but it shouldn't die in 
neglect, unwashed and dirty with nobody to look after it. Briggs 
feels the same way I do; he was ashamed to look at me; he was 
apologizing; he loved that paper and it sickens him to see it like 
that. But even he! he could at least get a pail of water and soap 
and clean it up a little." One hand yanked at his tie, the other 
combed through his thick, wavy hair in angry frustration. An 
emotion had seized him that he could hardly explain. 

Kate was puzzled. "But it's just a building, dear. You knew it 
was worn out or you couldn't have bought it for so little." Then a 
light came into her eyes. "Or is it just a building to you? Does it 
mean something more than that?" 

"Of course not," he snapped. Then he apologized. Tm sorry, 
Kate. I'm taking out my temper on you. Never mind. I'll see Dillon 
of the Post tomorrow and settle the deal he can have the franchise 
and the building, if he wants it" 



97 



SIX 



Dillon didn't wait for the next day. He came to see Joseph that 
night. For an hour the two men were closeted in the study and 
Kate could hear the murmur of their voices, cautious at first as 
two businessmen bargained over a price, then, suddenly, becoming 
animated. The two of them seemed to be excitedly talking at once 
as if they were making plans faster than the words could tumble 
out. 

The editor of the Post was smiling as he came out, thanked his 
Jiostess, made his excuses for keeping her husband for so long a 
time and said his good nights. After he left, Kate turned to her 
.husband. 

"Well?" 

"Well, what?" 

"What is this all about? Why are you looking so pleased with 
yourself and so reckless, too?" 

He seized her by the elbows and lifted her straight up into the 
jair. While she squealed to be let down she was thinking this was 
ja Joseph she had never seen before jaunty, excited, with a flush 
in his cheeks kindled by a burning fire inside him. "I'm not selling 
what do you think of that? I'm back in the newspaper business. 
How does this sound to you? The St. Louis Post and Dzspatc/z?" (It 
was soon to be shortened and hyphenated.) "That's what it is, Kate. 
JDillon and I are going in on equal terms his backlog of advertising 

98 



and subscriptions and readers and my poor old building and equip- 
ment. He's been using the Globes press to run his issues and it 
hasn't worked out too well He's afraid I might run the Dispatch 
in competition with him, so he would rather merge even though it 
means I have complete control. That's why I am doing it! For the 
first time I will have a free hand and the final authority." 

Kate had a momentary panic. There was exactly twenty-seven 
hundred dollars in the bank. How long would that last them, 
running a newspaper? But she looked at Joseph again and her 
confidence returned. He was a man transformed. Something that 
had been lying dormant in him for a while was awakened again 
and she knew that her husband was a newspaperman first and a 
businessman last. She quickly swallowed the words that might have 
dampened that fire and the eagerness she saw in his eyes. 

"Come along, Editor Pulitzer a glass of milk and a good night's 
sleep for you if you are going to put out a paper tomorrow." 

"Kate," he promised fervently, "this is going to be a paper such 
as this city has never seen before!" 

On the afternoon of the 12th the two papers officially merged. 
Everything that Dillon possessed was moved to the Dispatch build- 
inga building that had been cleaned from top to bottom, scoured 
inside and out and with a patched-up elevator that at least could 
run. Dillon had no money; they figured the Pulitzers' $2,700 would 
last them exactly seventeen weeks. 

The new Post-Dispatch carried the following statement on its 
front page: 

The Post-Dispatch will serve no party but the people; will 
be no organ of Republicanism, but the organ of truth; will 
follow no causes but its conclusions; will not support the 
"Administration" but criticize it; will oppose all frauds and 
shams wherever and whatever they are; will advocate prin- 
ciples and ideas rather than prejudices and partisanship, 

99 



These ideas and principles are precisely the same as those 
upon which our Government was originally founded, and to 
which we owe our country's marvelous growth and develop- 
ment. They are the same that made a Republic possible and 
without which a real Republic is impossible. They are the 
ideas of a true, genuine, real Democracy. They are the prin- 
ciples of true local self-government . . . 

Joseph walked to the newly formed Post-Dispatch in the early 
dawn of the 12th. He was thinking hard. A statement published 
was one thing; living up to it would be another. He was going to 
have to strike fast, make a sharp impact, stir up the city within the 
next twenty-four hours because people would be watching and 
waiting to see what he was going to do. A successful first edition 
would make the Post-Dispatch, but if he couldn't capture immediate 
attention then it would be a slow process of building readers. And 
twenty-seven hundred dollars in the bank wouldn't last that long. 

It was a frightening prospect; but, oddly enough, Joseph was not 
the least bit frightened. He felt cocksure, happy, carefree almost 
lighthearted. At last he had his own newspaper! Dillon would not 
interfere in any way, he knew. 

Early as he was, Briggs had beaten him that morning and was 
already organizing the day's assignments. He turned a half-scared 
look at his new employer; then, seeing Pulitzer's smile, he beamed 
back. "So we're gonna have a paper, sir?" 

"Looks that way, doesn't it? Well, we'll see a lot will depend 
on today." But in spite of his efforts to be grave and serious, Joseph 
felt an intoxicating joy spreading inside of him. He wanted to 
shout and yell. Instead he took the notes and clippings Briggs 
handed him and quickly ran a practiced eye down them. "Hmmm 
no lead story here. That's all right don't worry about it. I have 
one and if we can do it, Briggs, it will be a spectacular story. It 
will jolt St Louis right off its riverbanks. This is what I want you 

100 



to do." He wrote brief instructions and handed them to the re- 
porter. Briggs read them and his eyebrows went up to a peak of 
astonishment. "Go over to the courthouse and don't come back 
until you have those figures. If you don't get them if you make a 
mistake well, maybe you'd just better not come back at all!" He 
made himself look severe. 

Briggs scuttled out the door. 

By the time the other reporter from Dillon's staff showed up, 
Joseph had all the rest of the day's news stories already arranged 
in his head; he had a pretty good picture of just what each page 
was going to look like. His training on the Westliche Post, even his 
frustrations there, had taught him to think not in terms of what was 
standard and usual and expected of newspapers, but rather what 
did the readers want? What would they like to read? What was 
missing that they did not get in the conservative press? And being 
something of a student of human nature, his journalistic sense led 
him to believe that he should make a real break with the kind of 
writing in the other papers. 

"We're going to give our readers all the news news they won't 
get anywhere else," Pulitzer explained to the reporter. "But the 
readers don't want just serious writing. We are going to give them 
color and drama and excitement, pictures, cartoons lots of small, 
odd stories lots of names in the stories for instance, here's a clip- 
ping, one paragraph, from the Democrat. A girl says she met the 
Devil himself, in a country lane north of the city. The Democrat 
runs a paragraph only because the encounter frightened her so 
much that she became unconscious. But they've missed it as a 
story. Of course she didn't really meet any devil, but she thought 
so. It's a curiosity; it makes people wonder; makes them kugh, 
perhaps. I want you to interview her. She's at the Neighborhood 
Hospital. Write it with all the emotions she felt Something scared 
her enough to make her faint. Get all these other stories" indicat- 

101 



ing the assignments- "but concentrate on that girl. And I want her 
words, not yours." 

The reporter, with a look that plainly said he thought his new 
employer was as crazy as a girl who saw devils, walked leisurely 
away. 

Dillon put his head in the door. 'Til be out looking for adver- 
tisements. Not that I expect to get any/' Both men knew that 
whatever success he would have in the advertising department 
would depend on how the public would like Joseph as an editor. 

The printer yelled from downstairs. Joseph took the stairs three 
at a time, forgetting the elevator was now in working order. The 
press had developed new mechanical trouble, the printer told him 
with melancholy pride. It took them both an hour to find the 
trouble and repair it. 

He raced upstairs again. The dispatches from the Associated 
Press had come in. There were four good stories: one of a new 
silver mine discovered in Nevada; one of a tremendous hurricane 
in the Samoan Islands; one of a great and glittering reception and 
ball in the White House, another of a fire in the Chicago packing 
sheds. Fairly routine stories but Joseph had an idea. At lunch he 
went without food to find Arthur Koeppler and persuade him to 
draw a big picture, from his own imagination, of the White House 
ball. Koeppler had a fine way of drawing a crowd of people, yet 
the ones in the foreground had such distinction of face and figure 
that anyone could see they represented the President, his wife, and 
members of the Cabinet. Joseph decided, when he saw the quick 
sketch, to do a truly daring thing he pulled out several stories to 
give space to splash the picture right across the third page. 

The reporter was back with his interview from the hospital. He 
watched with fascination as Joseph completely rewrote it. 

"Mr. Pulitzer! Your language" he protested. His mouth was 
pinched in disdain, 'That is hardly good journalism. It isn't in good 
taste. It's it's sensationdisml" 

102 



Joseph looked hard at him. "You are absolutely right. That isP 
what the Post-Dispatch will have, among other things. Sensation! 
Excitement! Now this is what I call a good story of its kind: Girl 
Meets Devil. Dark Lane. Dark Night. Suddenly the moon breaks 
through and she sees an awesome figure she screams" 

"It is a ridiculous story. Making a lot out of nothing." 

"The girl believes it. She saw something and she did faint and 
she is in the hospital. Maybe she has a dull life and just created 
some excitement for herself. Well, maybe our readers have dull 
lives, too. And if you feel this is beneath your literary dignity, I 
think you had better take yourself to another newspaper, because 
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is going to amuse and entertain its 
readers as well as educate and instruct them." 

The day wasn't half over and he had already fired one man. If 
Briggs didn't get back soon no there wouldn't be much point in 
firing him because there wouldn't be any newspaper from which 
to fire him. For a moment Joseph itched to be out of this editor's 
chair and into the streets, running along them as he used to do- 
getting the story, getting the facts and getting them first. 

Joseph felt that old, familiar twitching spasm of his nerves at the 
back of his neck. He rubbed his forehead. Nothing could go wrong 
today! It just couldn't! 

Hie door opened. He swung around. But it was Kate, not BriggSv 

She had a basket with her and a white napkin over it, 'Toil 
didn't come for me at lunchtime and I am sure you haven't eaten. 
Now, I am going to dose this door and no one is to interrupt us. 
You are going to rest for a few moments while we eat." 

His nerves relaxed. The happy feeling came flooding back and 
he smiled at her. Nothing could go wrong. He felt it as surely as 
he saw Kate herself bustling about, pushing papers aside on his 
desk to make it into a table. "Bless you, Kate. I'm waiting for a 
reporter and if he doesn't show up pretty soon with the story I 
sent him for, I am afraid our goose will be cooked." 

103 



"You say that as if you didn't really believe it could happen." 

"I don't If Briggs doesn't show up in half an hour Fll go 
myself." 

"It's that important? Now, no more business talk. While you 
have been so busy here this morning I have found us a house to 
live in. Very nice, Joseph, and there's a stable near by where you 
can keep your horse and oh, yes, I finally persuaded your friend 
Mr. Davidson to stop being shy of me and come for dinner next 
Sunday" Kate rambled on and for twenty minutes Joseph com- 
pletely forgot about Briggs and the missing story. 

It was Briggs himself, hot, tired and panting, almost falling 
headlong into the room, who interrupted them before ten minutes 
had gone by. 

"Did you get them?" Joseph demanded. 

"I did." The reporter caught his breath. "Are you really going to 
print them, Mr. Pulitzer? They're dynamite!" 

They were the city tax reports and they certainly were dynamite. 
The Post-Dispatch ran them, two columns wide: in one, the taxes 
paid by rich men, corporations and businesses; in the other, the 
taxes paid by workingmen and small businessmen. The contrast was 
shocking. Those in the first column had paid only a fraction of 
their assessments, using every kind of tax dodge. Those in the 
second, since they had no smart lawyers to advise them, and could 
not hire bookkeepers to juggle accounts, had paid their full tithes. 

That first day Joseph wrote no editorial. He wanted his readers 
to judge for themselves. 

The new St. Louis Post-Disfatch hit the streets for the first time 
late that afternoon. In a few hours it was completely sold out. By 
evening there were people at the newspaper doors demanding extra 
copies; the best Pulitzer could do for them was to paste up one of 
the office file copies on the windows where it could be read by the 
crowd in the street 

104 



This had its advantages. He could stand out there with them, 
unnoticed, and watch their reactions. 

By twentieth century standards that first issue of the Post-Dis- 
patch would be considered a very poor journalistic effort. The press 
was so old and worn out that the type smeared in some places and 
was so faint as to be barely readable in others. There were no head- 
lines, story leaders were small and the copy was jammed up against 
them with hardly two spaces between them. Lead, sublead and the 
story itself were of the same gray-black type, with no white spaces 
or blacker type to break the monotonous pattern. 

But in 1878 the Pulitzer paper was a radical change from any- 
thing those crowds on the sidewalk had ever seen. It had newsl 
The tax story was indeed dynamite. No other paper would have 
touched it. Two columns of that on the front page, next to them 
the Samoan hurricane, a fourth column of short stories of local 
interest, and the last column an account of the Chicago packing 
sheds fire. The style of the writing was different, too: right to the 
point, easy to read. 

Pulitzer stood quietly by the window, pretending to read but 
actually listening to the comments. 

"Just look at that! Those dirty crooks, cheating the city while we 
pays up honestly!" 

"That's Edgerton's name, printed right there. Five hundred dol- 
lars for two of the biggest department stores is all he paid last year! 
Now, you know that's a swindle There's my cousin's name- 
right there in the next column you know my cousin? the one lives 
on Chestnut Street? Well, whattya know! Bet that's the first time 
he ever got his name in a paper." 

'It can't be true-" 

'Why can't it? You think a newspaper's gonna print something 
they can't back up?" 

"You don't know what you're saying. All newspapers lie all the 



time." 



105 



"Not with figures they don't. It says these are official tax reports 
and we can go down and check them ourselves." 

The crowd swelled. People read over each other's shoulders. 
They exclaimed, they argued, they grew heated and angry; they 
moved down the sidewalk to examine the other pages and to linger, 
especially, over the Koeppler drawing of the White House ball. 
Pictures were extremely rare in newspapers. They were considered 
fit only for magazines. 

One comment Pulitzer heard over and over again. He could 
hardly wait to rush home and tell Kate. 

'They kept saying 'tomorrow I'm going to buy a paper for myself. 
I want the wife to read this/ And tomorrow, Kate, it's going to be 
a better paper. I have more tax lists to run; there will be an editorial 
on it. I wish Koeppler weren't going to New York. We'll have to 
find another illustrator. Dillon is worried. We didn't have a single 
advertisement but I told him not to be upset. They may try to 
boycott us for a little while because of this tax story, but if the 
subscriptions go up the advertisers will follow. If we get the readers 
tkeir customers they will come to us, eventually. I must see 
Briggs-" 

"Joseph/' she said, "calm yourself. You are speaking so fast I can 
hardly follow you. Dinner is ready/' 

"No dinner/' He kissed her quickly, seized his broad-brimmed 
felt hat and slipped his arms into his heavy topcoat. "I must get 
back; there's a whole night's work waiting for me." And he was 
gone. 

He worked until midnight and the next morning he was the 
first to open the Post-Dispatch doors. He took a chance. This day's 
issue, featuring more of the tax records and a Mississippi steamboat 
disaster, was a double run off the press. Even with that increase, 
it was almost sold out by six o'clock. 

Pulitzer's judgment had been sound on the story of the girl's 
encounter with the Devil. It became a topic of gossip and contro- 

106 



versy. Letters came in the mail denouncing it as superstition, treat- 
ing it as a joke, arguing about it from every possible angle. Joseph 
printed the letters without comment and let the readers argue it 
out among themselves. With this one single stroke, the Post-Dis- 
patch was established as a newspaper that belonged not solely to its 
publisher but to the readers themselves as well. 

He hired a new reporter, trained him to write dramatically and 
taught him to go out and hunt for stories in the same way the 
young Joseph Pulitzer had done for the old Westliche Post with 
this difference: this reporter knew his stories would not be censored 
for any political, religious or financial allegiance of the publisher's. 

Dillon still worried. The advertisers stayed away. 

Gambling and vice in St. Louis were Joseph's next targets. He 
kept Briggs busy from morning until night collecting facts for this 
expos. Pulitzer found another artist and he edged dose to libel 
suits when the drawings featured, unmistakably, the faces of well- 
known gambling figures. In a couple of weeks the Post-Dispatch 
had literally run the St. Louis Lottery Company out of town and 
won the gratitude of families who had seen husbands spend the 
grocery money on the faro tables or in a thousand-to-one shot on a 
lottery ticket 

Editorially, Pulitzer followed the gambling stories with outright 
attacks on the city government, on real estate companies, on the 
lottery outfit itself anyone who was in any way involved in permit- 
ting gambling to flourish in the city. 

That campaign finished, he turned to a demand that the city 
streets be cleaned and repaired. Many were nothing but hog wal- 
lows. His articles, also, were responsible for the beginning of a park 
system in St. Louis. 

Because of Schurz's training, he knew his way around in the 
political field. His experiences in the legislature gave him an inside 
knowledge that he could now freely pass on to his readers. He held 

107 



nothing back from them. Only in the editorial did he state his 
own opinions. 

Long, long before the twenty-seven hundred dollars in the bank 
was supposed to have been exhausted the newspaper was on its own 
and making money. Circulation climbed every week. With the tax 
scandal out of its pages, the advertisers forgot their boycott. As 
Pultzer had predicted, they would put aside their grudge to reach 
their customers. 

Dillon was amazed at their overnight success. To him it seemed 
a miracle of genius or an accident of fortune. Pulitzer knew it was 
neither accident nor miracle. It was the result of hard work. In spite 
of the happiness that was truly his at that time, with the Post- 
Dispatch leaping into journalistic and financial success overnight, 
with the fun of setting up housekeeping with Kate and with the 
pleasure of introducing old friends to his wife and making new 
ones through her, there was another side to the picture. The Post- 
Dispatch succeeded only because its editor risked both his health in 
long hours of hard work and risked his safety for his principles. 

There was the terrible night when Kate, expecting him home 
early for once, waited supper for him. TTie minutes dragged on 
and then the hours and still he did not come. Three times she sent 
the cold dishes back from the table to the kitchen to be reheated. 
It was not unusual for him to be late but not this late. Somehow 
she had a premonition of danger. She was afraid. Her face was pale 
and drawn when finally she heard his steps on the porch. 

The steps didn't sound like Joseph's. They faltered and stumbled. 
Kate raced to fling open the door and then she screamed. 

"Joseph! oh, you're hurt!" Blood from his clothes had come off 
on her hands. He staggered a little and supported himself by 
clinging to her with one hand, the other clutching for support 
at the prong from the big walnut hatrack in the hallway. He man- 
aged to smile at her. 

"It's all right Now, don't fuss, Kate-" 

108 



"All right? How can you say that? Mary, run for the doctor, 
please! Bring me a towel first and some hot water. Joseph, tell me 
what happened. Who did it?" She guided him to the dining room 
and to a chair. He sank into it with a sigh that hurt her more than 
the sight of the bleeding wound on his head and neck. 

"It was the gambling syndicate* I don't know whether they sent 
this man or he did it on his own, but I recognized him. He hangs 
around one of the worst gambling dens in the city and picks up odd 
jobs for them. He came up behind me. The street was dark and I 
didn't see or hear him until he was right on top of me with his 
club. I finally ouch, Kate! that stings finally managed to get it 
away from him and just then a policeman ran up. He had his 
hands full with my would-be assassin. I couldn't find a hackney to 
drive me so I just walked on home. Guess I didn't realize I was 
hurt until my knees began to give way." He closed his eyes. He 
opened them, quickly, to reassure her. "It isn't serious, dear. The 
doctor will fix me up." 

As soon as his head was bandaged he insisted on driving back 
with the doctor to the police station. It was no longer a personal 
attack on him; it was a story for the Post-Dispatch. Not even Kate's 
tears could keep him home. 

He never told her that two weeks before he had been set upon 
in broad daylight in the busiest street of the city by a Colonel 
W. B. Hyde, editor of the Republican, for what the man thought 
was a slur on his paper's integrity. It had been easy to disarm the 
colonel of his cane, and without it he became suddenly very pru- 
dent and peaceful. Pulitzer went on his way without another 
thought of the incident. 

Although a lesser woman than Kate Pulitzer might have begged 
her husband to give up the crusading that got him into so much 
trouble, a lesser woman would probably not have married someone 
as intensely perfectionist and as boldly idealistic as Joseph. 

She worried mostly about his health, 

109 



All that year and for several to come, he was to work like a man 
possessed. There were only a few little concessions she could win 
from him: a Sunday nap once in a while, an early-morning ride, an 
infrequent evening of leisure at home with guests. Most of the 
time he worked from early in the morning until late at night 
Sometimes he was the first to open the doors of the Post-Dispatch 
and usually the last to leave at night. At times he slept there, on 
an old horsehair couch. He worked with an intensity that was 
frightening to his staff and at the same time reassuring to them. 
Nothing could go wrong as long as Pulitzer was there, they felt. 
If a mistake was made he was sure to catch it. If a man needed 
help, the tall, distinguished figure of the editor was at his side, 
rewriting a story, proofreading, and in an emergency he could even 
set type or help with the patched-up, creaky old press. 

On the other hand, none of the staff knew what to expect next. 
The pace he set them was killing. He added reporters to the pay 
roll; trained as they were to the ways of other editors, it seemed to 
them that Pulitzer's intent was to shake every old hahit and method 
and routine out of them. They were sent scurrying to every corner 
of St. Louis in search of stories. They were made to force their 
way into offices and buildings and homes and churches and schools 
and city institutions with no respect for anything except to get the 
storyl get the facts! "It's ungentlemanly," one complained to an- 
other, "It's undignified." "It'll make a reporter out of you," Briggs 
retorted with satisfaction. 

Lunch for the editor was a sandwich eaten while he worked, 
but if his hours kept him late, as they usually did, Kate would 
come to the office with her supper basket and insist that the two 
spend a quiet half hour eating and talking and relaxing together. 
She knew very well that this was often the only moment in the 
whole day that he could take to rest. And because she saw so little 
of him she would repack the basket when they finished, take her 
mending or her embroidery over to her favorite corner of his office 

110 



and work quietly until Joseph was ready to leave. Though he 
argued with her about the trouble she was taking for him, he loved 
to feel her presence there even when he was so busy he scarcely 
saw her. 

There were days when he wrote virtually the entire paper him- 
self. It was slow work changing the style of his new reporters 
from pretty prose to hard-hitting, colorful, crisp language. It was 
even slower work to convince them they need fear no one; pay 
favors to no one regardless of how rich or prominent he might be. 

The pace was too fast for Dillon. At the end of the first year 
he was glad to sell Joseph his share and be rid of responsibility. 
Now the entire burden of publisher and editor fell on one man. 
It was too much. He looked around for an able assistant and found 
him in John A. Cockerill. 

Cockerill was called "Colonel" but he laughed at the tide, 
saying that since the Civil War everyone who had had a sniff of 
battle gave himself brass and rank and that he had been nothing 
but a drummer boy himself. But his friends insisted on the 
"Colonel" because his father had been one. 

He was as stormy a man as his boss and he kept both of them 
in hot water. His history had been adventurous: after his army days 
he had been a printer's devil, then a clerk in the state senate of 
Ohio, then a reporter for the Dayton, Ohio, Empire. He had gone 
to the batde front of the Russo-Turkish War as a special corre- 
spondent for the Cincinnati Enquirer. When Pulitzer first heard 
of him he was managing editor of the Baltimore Gazette, a battling, 
two-fisted, picturesque character. 

It was Cockerill, more so than Pulitzer, who fully developed the 
style of terse, rapid, short-sentence news reporting. Just as his boss 
was master of the editorial, he was a master of the front page. 

Kate liked him; more than that, she was glad that someone was 
to share part of her husband's load. 

"I'm so worried about Joseph, Thomas," she told Davidson one 

111 



quiet night when they finished dinner and Joseph had gone back 
to the paper. "He has driven himself past that point of weariness 
where the body can recover with a few good nights* rest. He is 
exhausted and yet the nervous tension in him won't give up, won't 
stop. 

"He has always been that way, although this is worse than I 
have ever seen. We must try to make him take a vacation. His 
eyes are growing weaker with this constant reading of proof and 
copy. He abuses those poor eyes of his." 

She looked up over her sewing, 'It is his nervousness that alarms 
me most," she continued. "He jumps at every sudden sound. He 
can hardly sleep. He has developed a habit of rubbing his forehead 
as if he could make the pain and the headache go away, and it 
hurts me every time I see him do it. Perhaps Mr. Cockerill can take 
complete charge for a while and we can have our vacationthe 
paper is doing very well, isn't it, Thomas?" 

"Well/ lassie? It is a spectacular success! When I think of 
Joseph as I first met him, it's hard to realize that today he owns 
one of the biggest newspapers in the city and is himself a highly 
respected-aye, and a feared mon, too! But I did not come here 
to talk of the big father. I came to see the bairn." 

She laughed. "Ralph is in bed at this hour. Babies sleep, you 
know. But we can go up and peek at him. I think you are almost 
as proud of Ralph as Joseph is!" 

It was too soon for the vacation they hoped for. Another year and 
another. Still the Post-Dispatch swallowed up almost every minute 
of Pulitzer and Cockerill's time and effort. The two men slaved. 
They hired more reporters, added another bookkeeper, and a 
business manager named McGuffin who proved to be a wonder at 
bringing in advertising. More advertising meant more pages; more 
pages meant more work, more stories. A new press must be bought 
and a new building to house the bigger and completely up-to-date 

112 



equipment. On December 21, 1881, they moved to 517 Market 
Street and added still another Hoe press. 

Now the Post-Dispatch had come into its own as the leading 
newspaper of St. Louis. Competitors were slowly beginning to copy 
its style of writing and even though they still denounced it some 
of its sensationalism. 

Now it was time for Kate to insist that Joseph take a rest. There 
were three babies now litde Ralph was three years old, Lucille 
Irma two and Katherine Ethel an infant in the cradle. It was time 
for their father to really get acquainted with his children, Kate 
insisted. Joseph loved his children but he was missing so much of 
their childhood by being so busy. He was missing that real closeness 
of a father to a son, and he had better start answering some of 
Lucille Irma's questions, because that young lady, at two years of 
age, was just like him. She was into everything, curious about 
everything, asking questions about everything. 

It was time. The paper was prospering. In CockerilTs hands it 
could be taken for granted that it would continue to do so. This 
last year had shown a profit of eighty-five thousand dollars but 
what good was this if Joseph's health should be permanently 
wrecked and if he was too busy to enjoy his family? He agreed. 
By the fall of 1882 he had put his affairs in such shape they could 
make their plans to winter in California. 

Then disaster. 

On October 5th a man named Colonel Alonzo W. Slayback, of 
the law firm of Broadhead, Skyback and Haeussler, was shot and 
killed by Cockerill. The shooting took place in the editor's office 
in full view of Slayback's companion, a Mr. William H. Clopton. 
The composing room foreman happened to be passing and saw a 
little of what happened. Yet the versions of the shooting were 
startlingly different, 

Clopton claimed that, while it was true Slayback rushed in 
through the office door at Cockerill, the slain man was trying to 

113 



take off his coat for a fist fight and Cockerill had shot him down, in 
cold blood. 

"What did happen, John?" Pulitzer asked. Cockerill had been 
released without bail and the two were alone in the publisher's 
office. 

The editor was badly shaken but his eyes were steady as he 
faced his employer and his friend. "He came at me with a gun. 
It was in his hand, Joe, and he was pointing it at me as he ran 
into the room Clopton was behind him, too far behind to see 
what was in his hand. There wasn't time to think. I just acted 
reached into my desk drawer, grabbed my revolver and shot. It was 
self-defense." 

"I believe you." Pulitzer's fingers pressed his throbbing temples. 
"Broadhead was one of Slayback's partners and we've been oppos- 
ing Broadhead's candidacy for Congress. He knew that it was you 
who dug up the story that Broadhead had accepted a retainer of 
ten thousand from the city to fight a suit against the Laclede Gas 
Company and then, when he had learned all he needed to know 
about the city's case for the prosecution, turned around and de- 
fended the gas company against the city. That was a fine story you 
found. I had already heard rumors that Slayback was bragging all 
over the coffeehouses that he was going to Tiave it out' with you." 

"He sent word a day ago that he was challenging me to a duel. 
I'm sorry I killed the man but I don't know what else I could have 
done." 

Pulitzer was remembering his own shooting fray of some years 
ago. 'Til stand by you, John. Well weather this storm. The vacation 
trip will have to wait." 

The storm, however, became a hurricane that threatened to wipe 
out both men and the Post-Dispatch, too. It was whipped into 
frenzy by the enemies the paper had made for itself. 

The coroner's jury was satisfied with CockerilTs version. Since 
this was a duel between two individuals they did not trouble to 

114 



indict. It was still an age when guns were considered the proper 
weapon for men to adjust their differences. 

But Pulitzer s enemies called it murder. They screamed that a 
man had been shot down, defenseless and helpless, in cold blood. 
Ward politicians went around their districts inflaming people; 
saloonkeepers, smarting under the Post-Dispatch crusade against 
vice and gambling, set up free drinks on the house for anyone who 
would go out and "get" Joseph Pulitzer. Rival editors wrote stories 
that were incitements to mob violence. As the day went on, the 
whirlwind became a fury and drove an ever-increasing horde of 
people to the doors of the newspaper. 

From his third floor window Joseph watched the crowd gather. 
He heard the first isolated yells of "Murderer," the first calls to burn 
and lynch, and then he saw the whole crowd turn into a screaming 
mass milling around the doors, brandishing clubs and flaming pitch 
pine torches. It was a sight that burned itself into his brain. Beside 
him stood Kate. She had refused to leave. Her place was with him. 

It was a hideous and desperate night. Windows were broken. 
Torches were thrown through them and Joseph and several of the 
staff who had stoutly refused to leave were kept busy putting out 
the flames before they could seriously burn floor or walls. Someone 
in the crowd brought up a battering-ram. Joseph could hear the 
furious noise of it pounding on the front door. 

Extra police were finally called out and at last they were able 
to control the situation, confiscate the battering-ram and put out 
the torches. As the night grew cold so did the fury of the mob. 
They began to scatter, then the whole crowd broke up and ran. 

At last the vigil upstairs was ended* Pulitzer drew the shades and 
turned away from the window. Kate caught her breath at the sight 
of his face. It was gray, heartsick and hurt. 

The next day the edition of the Post-Dispatch came back almost 
completely unsold. Circulation dropped to zero. 

"I don't understand it. The drunken mob, yes; I can understand 

115 



what was motivating them and who was behind them. But after 
all the paper has meant to the people of St. Louis that they should 
turn against me now!" The sickness was still in Pulitzer's face, 
'Why don't they trust our story, John, instead of others'?" 

"Because they are decent, good people. That is what you don't 
realize. You think they should be personally loyal to you or to me, 
but to them murder is wrong no matter who does it. Yes I know- 
it was self-defense. But the West is changing, Joe. They are de- 
manding law, not guns, to setde disputes. The worst thing that 
happened was the coroner's jury court refusing to arrest me. If I 
had gone to trial and cleared myself, then it would have been all 
right. But this way it looks as if I took the law into my own hands 
and now the court is hushing things up for us. Joe, I know you 
aren't going to want to do this but you will have to let me resign. 
For the good of the Post-Dispatch." 

Pulitzer held out for a while but he was forced to admit Cock- 
erill was right. He had to replace him. Immediately sales and 
circulation began its upward swing and soon the Post-Dispatch was 
at the top of its field again. 

But for Joseph Pulitzer the paper had a taint on it. It was 
spoiled. Even the city of St. Louis seemed to him now a treacherous 
and unfriendly place. With Dillon, his old partner, back as man- 
aging editor, he and Kate and the children were ready to leave 
for a vacation but Joseph knew in his heart it was not really a 
vacation. He never wanted to come back. 

"We'll work together again sometime, John," he told Cockerill. 
"You are still on the pay roll. If you find another position let me 
know, because I have a feeling I'll be needing you again." 

"Don't worry about me. Kate tells me you are going to New 
York and then to Europe. Enjoy yourself. Rest. Take it easy. And 
don't think about work for a long, long time!" 

"I won't. I don't even want to read, a newspaper/' He said it 
with violence. 

116 



seven 



The New York of 1883 was very different from the city Pulitzer 
had first seen nineteen years ago. It had grown up, just as he had. 
Its shops and residential districts now spread out almost all over 
Manhattan Island; its skyline was rising, in some places as high 
as eight stories. Paving had replaced many of the old cobblestoned 
streets and the passengers of the horse-drawn streetcars welcomed 
the change. No longer did they jounce over ruts and stones and 
risk their necks when the wheels came off over a boulder or a horse 
fell down in the ice of a rut 

But if anything, the noise and the crowds and the rushing-about 
had increased. Kate, seeing New York for the first time, was breath- 
less and confused. She had never seen so many people! Or heard 
so many different languages. "It's like a world all in itself/' she 
said. "Some of the richest people in the world and some of the 
poorest. Great mansions and terrible slums. The finest stores and 
on the same street women with shawls over their heads selling 
shoelaces from pushcarts. And the noise! steamship whistles and 
fire engine bells and look, Joseph! did you ever see so many 
vehicles on one street in your life?" She leaned out the window 
of their suite in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, clutching her husband's 
arm to steady herself. 

Joseph counted them off for her: "Two broughams, a carriage, 
a chaise, the horse-drawn tram, brewery wagon, two hackney cabs, 

117 



a coach, a hire-carriage that's ours and it's waiting for us. You 
wanted to see the Bowery, Kate/' 

"Is it really dangerous?" 

"Not if we are in a carriage. But it is a tough place. The choicest 
collection of pickpockets and thieves and murderers you could find 
outside of a jail or San Francisco's Barbary Coast." 

The mornings were devoted to playing games with the children. 
For Joseph it was an adventure, finding out how intelligent his 
little son was, yet how different was the child's personality from his 
own, Lucille Irma not only acted like her father, she looked most 
like him; both children were enchanted to have this big man all 
to themselves for once. He was gentle with them; they climbed on 
his lap and pulled his beard and he only laughed at their baby 
tempers. "You'll spoil them if you aren't careful," Kate warned, 
rocking little Katherine in her cradle. Secretly she didn't care. For 
her, it was enough to have her husband*and her family together in 
one room. 

They had brought a nurse with them. While the children 
napped in the afternoons they could be left in her care. Kate and 
Joseph went sight-seeing, shopping and visiting. 

One of the first persons they visited was Albert. Joseph's younger 
brother had come to America some years before. He had come 
directly to St. Louis but while he was there the separation between 
the brothers that had started in Budapest widened to a definite cool 
estrangement. There were all sorts of rumors, but whatever the 
reason, Albert left St. Louis and came to New York. 

He, too, was interested in journalism. He had proved himself 
a highly competent reporter for the New York Herald and only 
the year before this one, with Joseph's financial help, he had 
branched out on his own and bought the Morning Journal, a one- 
cent newspaper, for twenty-five thousand dollars. 

Perhaps Joseph felt that one newspaperman in the family was 
enough. Perhaps he disliked being imitated. He showed little faith 

118 



in the Morning ]ournal though it was akeady a mild success and 
when the two met in New York they were friendly, but scarcely 
warm. 

This and the continuing worry over Joseph's health were the 
only clouds in their lives. Kate went with him to consult the hest 
physicians. The verdict only confirmed her own diagnosis: com- 
plete rest and absence from the strain of work. One doctor, how- 
ever, showed an insight the others did not. 

"Ordinarily, Mrs. Pulitzer, for a patient whose nerves are in 
such bad shape I would prescribe bed rest. That would be the worst 
thing in this case. Your husband has an extremely active mind and 
boredom would be as much of a strain on him as overwork. I 
would suggest you find diversion for him that will not tax his 
strength but at the same time will provide him mental activity." 

She knew this was sound advice but she was at her wit's end 
to provide the diversion. Shopping in the fine New York stores was 
fun, but only for a little while; sight-seeing was mainly for her 
since Joseph was no stranger to this city. He was enjoying the 
hours he could now spend with his children, getting really ac- 
quainted with them, but babies hardly provided the kind of mental 
stimulation the doctor had suggested. Only one idea came to her 
mind. 

Kate began to entertain. She sought out old friends of her parents 
and mingled them with some of Joseph's acquaintances as supper 
guests in the hotel suite. She was a charming hostess. Her hus- 
band's history made him a fascinating and exciting figure. Invita- 
tions poured in on them; she accepted them recklessly. 

Joseph was surprised. "I didn't expect my wife to turn out to be 
a social butterfly." 

"You enjoy it," she defended herself. "And it is only for one 
more week. It is nice to hear people talk of something else besides 
Missouri politics and Missouri problems. Don't you think so, 
dear?" 

119 



"It's more than just nice and pleasant, Kate. It's like a big, strong, 
fresh wind blowing through my mind. In St. Louis it was hard to 
interest more than a handful of people in anything happening 
outside the city or state, but these friends of yours from Washing- 
ton are talking about national and international politics." He 
tugged at the vest and picked up his tie. They were dressing to go 
out for dinner. "Help me with this, will you?" 

She stood on tiptoe to fix his tie. "I am so glad that all that 
desk work has never made you stoop shouldered. And I like that 
vest." It was flowered brocade, on a dull and sedate background. 
Kate was even more pleased at the eager spark that had come back 
into Joseph's eyes. He was sleeping well now; the headaches were 
less frequent; his face was animated. 

"Don't you know what the New York Sun said of me? a 'distin- 
guished visitor.' Since they went on to deplore the 'sensationalism' 
of my journalistic endeavors, it can't be that they are referring to. 
It must be my looks," he teased her. "But, to get back to your 
friends, do you mind that I argue with them so much? Does it 
spoil your evenings, Kate? There is a presidential election coming 
up and I am convinced that if a good candidate can be found, 
the saving of this country will be through a Democratic party 
victory. Under both Grant and Arthur this country has absolutely 
been plundered of its richest natural resources" he was begin- 
ning to pace the floor, forgetting the clock and his unfinished 
dressing. "Railroad barons, particularly. The gold and silver and 
oil and steel companies-just as bad. They've grabbed off the cream 
and left the skim for the people! And very little skim at that. So I 
argue with our Republican friends and try to convince our Demo- 
cratic ones. Unfortunately, the Democrats aren't convinced they can 
win. They aren't thinking big enough. They aren't looking for the 
kind of man who is a strong man, a good man and one who could 
win!" 

"But people do listen to you. Hurry, dear! Put on your coat do 

120 



you like my new dress? Aren't these bustles the silliest things? They 
wear so many more puffs and pads here than I am used to and 
I am bound I'll trip myself on this train." She kicked the green 
satin folds aside. He held her fur-trimmed cloak for her. 

She was thoughtful as they walked to the street. "People do 
listen to you/' she repeated. "Last night Mr. Montague said to me: 
Tour husband is a powerful man, Mrs. Pulitzer. He owns a power- 
ful newspaper in the Middle West and thousands and thousands 
of people will vote as he tells them to/ This is true, Joseph. I never 
thought of your having so much influence on a national election." 

"It may be true," he admitted gloomily, "but it is New York that 
still casts the deciding vote. The voice that controls the country 
is right here, not in Washington and certainly not in St. Louis. 
Also, these next few months will settle who is going to be the 
candidate and I will be in Europe during those months." 

Only one more week and they would be on the boat for Europe, 
Kate thought, and then we will really be on holiday. One more 
week and I will have him to myself. 

Nothing could be allowed to spoil this vacation! 

On Thursday they had a luncheon engagement with another 
couple at Rector's Restaurant and planned to visit a museum after- 
ward. Kate was dressed and ready and waiting for Joseph who had 
gone out early that morning. The noon hour came closer. Still no 
Joseph. A messenger arrived with a note: "Please go on without 
me. I am detained on business. Will explain later. J. P." She won- 
dered but went on, expecting to find him at Rector's. No Joseph. 
She was becoming provoked and a little worried. Her friends 
persuaded her to eat. When he still had not shown up by two 
o'clock she refused to go with them to the museum. She went back 
to the hotel rooms to wait. 

The dinner hour brought another message: "Forgive me but am 
still busy. Make my apologies to the Andersons. Will be home 
late." 

121 



She sent the messenger on to the Andersons to make both their 
excuses. Kate was not budging from those rooms until she found 
out what the mystery was. Her fears mounted with each passing 
hour. 

When Joseph came in, one look at his face confirmed those fears. 
The relaxed sparkle was gone. In its place was the determination, 
the absorption, the settled purpose and willfulness she had so 
dreaded in the past few years. 

'Tell me what has happened! What is thisthis business that 
kept you?" 

"Kate, I am sorry." In his hands were a ledger book and a thick 
sheaf of foolscap, which was closely covered with scribbles of 
figures and notes. He placed them carefully on the round mahog- 
any table and stood looking at them, absent-mindedly, as he spoke. 
"I am afraid I have bad news for you. We will have to postpone 
our vacation." 



"I am considering buying another newspaper." 

She sank down on a chair, stunned. "I don't understand. Why?" 

"Because I want a New York newspaper. You know I am not 
too much interested in making more money; the Post-Dispatch does 
very well for us and I might even lose everything in a venture like 
this. But I want a voice that will speak not only to one city but 
to the whole nation, and only the New York press does that. I want 
to have a hand in deciding who will be the next president. I want 
to help shape the future of this nation. I want to tell people facts 
and truth and show both the politicians and the other newspaper 
publishers what a tremendous instrument for the public good a 
newspaper our kind of a newspaper can be." 

She realized he had been carefully formulating and marshaling 
these arguments before he would see her. 

"But, dear, you are tired. You are not well. Can't this wait until 
we return from Europe?" 

122 



"I thought so. But you have to seize an opportunity when it 
comes along or you might not get another. Wedging yourself 
into the New York field is almost impossible under most circum- 
stances; the press here is established and it's big and it wants no 
newcomers butting in. I heard today that Jay Gould wanted to sell 
the World. It is a small paper; used to be a religious one, then 
Gould got hold of it and used it to boost his financial interests. It 
is a Democratic paper and has a few stanch subscribers that's all. 
But the equipment," he said indicating the papers on the table, "is 
the best. The price is three hundred and forty-six thousand dollars 
and while that is not exactly a bargain it is a price I can meet I 
have to do this, Kate! I may never have such a chance again." 

She was speechless. He watched her face but he could not 
read it. 

"I spoke to Albert about it," he went on. "Albert's opinion is that 
there isn't room in this city for two Pulitzers or for another paper 
such as I have in mind to compete with the biggest the Times, 
the Herald, the Sun " 

That was the worst thing Albert could have said, she thought to 
herself, despairingly. Opposition only made Joseph more deter- 
mined than ever, if it was the kind that implied he would fail. It 
acted on him like a dare. 

"But I'm concerned about your health, Joseph." 
"I'm feeling better. All I need is hard work and a challenge. I 
want to test myself! Will my ideas succeed here as they did in St. 
Louis? Will New Yorkers like my kind of newspaper? Look, 
Kate" he spread out on the marble-topped table a copy of the 
New York Times. She stood at his shoulder and they examined it 
together. "Raymond of the Times is considered one of the shrewd- 
est and ablest of newspapermen. Financial circles lean on his advice. 
Conservative political leaders couldn't get along without his infor- 
mation for them. And here are his front-page stories! The Funding 
Bill Passed'; 'Apportionment Problems'; 'Death of Governor Foster 

123 



in Ohio'; "The Control of the Senate'; 'Pennsylvania Polities'; 
'River and Harbor Bill'; 'Civil Service Reform.' The rest of the 
paper is the same. It's easy to see the Times isn't written for the 
ordinary man and woman. It's written for specialists, for the insid- 
ers, for the people who are in politics or top businesses. And these 
stories aren't news! They are written as articles." 

He walked to the bookcases between the windows and then cir- 
cled the room slowly, pausing at the fireplace to kick absent- 
mindedly at a log. 

"None of the New York papers are written for the general pub- 
lic. Bennett of the Herald comes closest to it. He prints stories of 
human interest. He's witty and amusing and people read him for 
the scandals he rakes up. But I don't think everything should be 
treated as a joke. What is it that interests all of us? The drama of 
our own lives birth, marriage, accidents, tragedies, the crimes we 
commit ourselves and those that are practiced on us, the struggle to 
make life better and easier for us. Death, too. And that drama isn't 
often a comedy.'* 

Kate listened, thrilled in spite of herself. It seemed to her for the 
first time he was putting into words his revolutionary ideas. 

He went on: "None of the New York newspapers are written for 
the general public. They think their circulations are big. They are 
nothing! Nothing, that is, to what they could be if they were writ- 
ten so that everyone workingman and businessman, housewife and 
politician would find something in them of interest. These editors 
don't know a news story when they see it. The World announces 
that there is going to be a celebration over the opening of the 
Brooklyn Bridge in one paragraph! That's all! One of the biggest 
news stories of this year: the opening of that bridge has been 
talked about on the streets of this city; everyone is wondering when 
it is going to be; everyone wants to be there and Hurlbert gives it 
one paragraph! Kate, I want to try my ideas here. I want a news- 
paper here!" 

124 



"I don't know what to say. Don't decide tonight. Sleep on it, 
dear. Consider what it will mean: the work and the strain on you." 

Kate woke suddenly in the middle of the night. A light was shin- 
ing under a crack of the parlor door. She heard footsteps on the 
other side of that door. Hurriedly she slipped on a robe and went 
out. 

"Joseph-?" 

He was sitting quietly, the long slender fingers of one hand 
shading his eyes. When he looked at her the eyes were deeply 
troubled and unhappy. Never had she seen him look like that. 

"I've been sitting here thinking what an absolute fool I am. To 
believe that I could come into this city and compete with the big- 
gest newspapers in America; to start with the World which has 
hardly any subscriptions; to start without any financial backing ex- 
cept the earnings of the Post-Dispatchl I was planning to gamble 
away all our security, just to satisfy my belief that my land of 
newspaper is needed in this town/' 

Impetuously, Kate flared at him. "It is needed here! And so are 
you. A presidential election is coming up this year and" 

"And that is what made me really see my folly. Do you know 
what Dana and Raymond are, what Greeley used to be? King- 
makers. Makers of senators and presidents. Capable of building a 
political party or tearing one down. They crack their editorial whip 
and all Washington dances. And I thought I could compete with 
them!" 

His wife was as shocked as she was dismayed. Joseph had always 
had supreme confidence in his ability. 

"You can," she said slowly, "if you want to. Dana and Raymond 
were once as Greeley was able to do all these things you say they 
did. But times have changed. Remember how you and Thomas 
Davidson used to tell me that the greatest advance in this country 
was not the opening of the West after the Civil War, but the open- 
ing of people's minds? That people have learned to read and write? 

125 



That they had to, in order to keep up with industry, so they could 
do their jobs? It won't be Dana or anyone else not even Joseph 
Pulitzer who will be kingmakers any more. It will be the people 
of this country who decide the elections/* 

"If they get the facts. If they get the truth." He leaned forward. 
Excited color was stealing back into his face. "If they have a news- 
paper that tells them honestly what is going on. Kate, it isn't me I 
have to trust. It's the people. You are right. We will stay here and 
make the World into that kind of a newspaper. YouVe convinced 
me I can do it!" 

"I have?'' Bewildered, Kate only then realized what she had 
done. "But I wanted you to have a vacation!" she wailed. 

The next day the papers were signed. The first installment of 
the sale price was paid. 

On the evening of May 10, 1883, Pulitzer drove in a hired car- 
riage to Park Row. Here, at No. 31-32 was the building he now 
owned. As he alighted and paid off the driver, he stood for a mo- 
ment looking at the modest exterior. Down the street he could see 
the buildings of two of the nation's great newspapers: the New 
York Times, and the Tribune. Against diem, and against Bennett of 
the Herald and Dana of the Sun, he was to pit his strength. Against 
them the little World was a pygmy among giants. 

He walked into the building. 

It was quiet and orderly. The staff members were getting out the 
paper for the next morning and they were taking their time, much 
more interested in their new publisher and the rumors about him 
than they were in what they were doing. Heads went up. Doors 
cautiously opened. 

He was met, ceremoniously, in the lobby by William Henry 
Hurlbert, the editor. It was Hurlbert who set the leisurely and 
dignified tone of the place; his elegant and polished editorials were 
the only asset that held their readers and he knew it. Would Mr. 
Pulitzer care to see his office that morning? Mr. Pulitzer would. But 

126 



he would see it after he had started at the basement and gone 
through every floor in the building, every single room, every 
cubicle, and met every single person in the place. 

By the end of the hour Hurlbert was tottering with fatigue. He 
limped away to his own office and left the new owner alone in his. 

Pulitzer sat, letting the feel of this particular newspaper world 
sink into him. It was nothing like the feeling he had had that first 
day at the Post-Dispatch. Then he had been caught in an emotion 
blended of anger and pity over the neglect of what to him had been 
a living thing. He had wanted to scrub its dirt off, mend its torn 
places, dean out its filthy bed, heal it and make it well again. His 
lightness of heart the night he had made the agreement with Dillon 
he remembered very well. 

Here it was as if everything was dead. Could he revive it? Joseph 
thought of the rooms below him and the people in them: nicely 
paneled offices; clean, sunny, airy and well-lighted city desk room; 
efficient bookkeeping equipment, the latest in files and cabinets; a 
fine, modern press on the first floor; a staff in dean, good dothes and 
good manners and competent knowledge of their trade yet walk- 
ing around as if on eggshells, whispering. Not talking. WTiy? The 
flat of his palm smacked the desk in front of him like a pistol shot. 
They were dead the whole building was dead the paper was 
dead! 

He restrained himself long enough to look through yesterday's 
issue and today's copy. Then he read every other paper: the Times, 
the Tribune, the Herald, the Sun, the Reporter, the Journal. He 
read them all and made rapid notes. Soon the yellow pad of paper in 
front of him was covered with his jottings; he tore that off and 
started a second and a third and a fourth. Then he was ready. He 
walked out of the office and to the head of the stair well. 

"Hurffiert!" he roared. 

In five minutes the calm of the World was literally ripped apart. 

"Send this man in here" jabbing a finger at a piece of copy 

127 



"and tell the bookkeeper I want to see him. I'm sending a postal 
message get me a messenger boy. Tell the reporters I want to see 
each one of them, one at a time, right away! Today's edition will go 
out as you have it set up but we are starting right now to plan the 
next. Who are you? Oh, yes. Nym Crinkle, that's your pen name, 
isn't it?" 

"Yes. It's really Wheeler but-" 

"All right, Wheeler. I like this column. It is good. Almost the 
only thing in the whole paper that is any good. Give me another 
one like it tomorrow and we'll get along fine. Hurlbert! where's that 
messenger boy? Oh, let's see you're the business manager. There 
aren't enough frames in the composing room. Thirty-three aren't 
nearly enough for this paper. Order more. Immediately! I want 
them here tomorrow." 

"Tomorrow? I can't-" 

"I said tomorrow. Hurlbert! Where is that man! Where'd he go? 
oh, there you are! Here's a statement for today's paper." 

"It will be difficult to insert it at this late hour, Mr. Pulitzer. 
May I suggest instead that we run it tomorrow?" 

The new owner fixed him with a baleful eye. "Pull your edi- 
torial. Run this in its place. Hurry up, man. Now, you," he said to 
another, "you call yourself a reporter and you write a story like 
this? Where are your facts? Why does the Herald have the same 
story but with all the facts, all the names, all the places and you 
have nothing but a confused jumble of words about somebody 
planning a protest petition about the stoves always catching on fire 
in the horse-drawn trams. Was there a fire? Da those stoves smoke 
so much passengers can't abide them? What trams? Where? Who 
owns them? Who made up this petition protest? What is the name 
of the company who owns the trams? What do they say about this? 
Did you interview any passengers to get their impressions?" 

'It was such an unimportant story, Mr. Pulitzer," the luckless re- 
porter answered, feebly. 

128 



"There is nosuch thing as an unimportant story! Do you 
understand that, all of you? If a story is important enough to be 
printed in the World it is important enough to get all the facts 
and that you do your best to treat every single story as if it were the 
Page One lead* This I want to hammer into your heads and if it 
doesn't penetrate" as usual when he was worked up, the slight 
Germanic accent was noticeable and made the words even more 
impressive "then you no longer work for me! But you still do work 
for me and I will give you another chance. Listen. A man is going 
to die tonight in the prison at White Plains. He is a murderer. I 
want you to go up there and get a last-minute interview with him/ 
Find out what he is thinking. Is he remorseful? Why did he com- 
mit the murder? Is he defiant? What does the warden think of him 
and the other prisoners? Maybe you can get something from them. 
Stay with him until the end and get every last little detail." 

The reporter swallowed. He had no stomach for this assignment. 
The protest rose in his throat: it's horrible they won't let me 
then he took another look at Pulitzer's face and hurried out of the 
room. 

"Now, you," he said, indicating two uneasy gentlemen of the 
press who had been standing by waiting for the acid to be poured 
out on their heads, Til tell you later what's wrong with your work, 
but right now I want you to cover the big windstorm last night in 
New Jersey. Standard Oil tanks were hit by lightning. It should 
have been in todays paper but it isn't too late. This is going to be 
our lead feature on the front page, so you had better cover it com- 
pletely. The Times and the Herald did a poor job on it; that's just 
fine. I want you to go out on the streets where the damage was the 
greatest and talk to everyone. Get their personal stories of what it 
felt like to live through the night with the wind howling around 
them, shaking their houses and blowing down trees. Go to City 
Hall and get the estimated damage. Go to the police station. Go to 

129 



the hospitals and talk to the injured. And then come back and 
write your stories and they had better be good!" 

The reporters started out the door when he called them back. 
'Tm not sure that I made myself dear. When you talk to people I 
want the emotions of those people. I want our readers to know 
what it is like when a tree falls on the roof of a house and someone 
is hurt and the family runs out into the night crying and screaming 
and they see their child or their father taken away in an ambu- 
lance, and then in the morning they go back and find their few 
pitiful possessions their dishes, their furniture broken and 
smashed." He made dramatic gestures, his voice rising to pathos. 
Then it changed abruptly. 'That's the way I want it. You can go 



now." 



The editor protested. "Our readers aren't accustomed to this sort 
of of sensational writing, Mr. Pulitzer." 

Pulitzer didn't even look at him as he barked: "If we had to de- 
pend on your few readers, Mr. Hurlbert, we'd be out of business 
in a week. Mr. Crickmore? your sporting page is fine. I have ab- 
solutely no criticism of it. A good style you have." The sporting 
editor almost reeled down the stairs in his surprise. 

"What else are we planning for the front page?" Hurlbert was 
subdued. He let his face reflect his distaste for the new methods. 

*Tm asking for a volunteer. I want someone" his eyes swept the 
three reporters still in the room "who has both boldness and finesse, 
because getting this story will require both. I have heard a rumor 
that James Keane is planning to sell his collection of paintings. 
They are rare and valuable. Now why would Mr. James Keane be 
selling his paintings?" He studied each man in turn. 

One said: "Keane is a millionaire. I suppose he has his whims." 

Another said: "He is supposed to be one of the biggest financiers 
on Wall Street. If he is selling his paintings perhaps he's getting a 
little shaky. Maybe his position isn't as secure as is commonly 
thought." 

130 



The third man said: "Nonsense. Everyone knows Keane is 
sound. Td suggest that his taste may be changing, not his financial 
status. He may be tired of his pictures, though I've heard he has a 
Stuart in his collection and he's crazy about it" 

Pulitzer pointed at the second man who had spoken, "I'll take 
you. Your answer shows that you do your own thinking. You have 
a little of the skepticism that all good newspapermen must have. 
Just because everyone says Keane is sound doesn't mean he really is. 
To me there is something very strange about a rich man selling 
paintings that he greatly treasures. Go interview him." 

He handed a cablegram to one of the others. "Rewrite this. It 
isn't much of a story but a revolt in Haiti is news. One of the first 
things we will have to do is get a good correspondent out there. 
This man won't do. He sends a cablegram and to save a few dol- 
lars gives us nothing but a few grains of a story." He motioned 
them all out. "Now leave me alone. I have work to do." 

An hour later the day's edition was handed to him, still wet from 
the press. He ignored it all except for the statement he had written 
in place of the editorial. It read in part: 

The entire World newspaper property has been purchased 
by the undersigned, and will from this day be under different 
management different in men, measures and methods differ- 
ent in purpose, policy and principle different in objects and 
interests different in sympathy and convictions different in 
head and heart. * . . 

There is room in this great and glowing city for a journal 
that is not only cheap but bright, not only bright but large, 
not only large but truly democratic dedicated to the cause of 
the people rather than that of purse potentates devoted more 
to the news of the New than the Old World, that will expose: 
all fraud and sham, fight all public evils and abuses that will 
serve and battle for the people with earnest sincerity. In the 

131 



cause for that end, solely, the new World is hereby enlisted 
and committed to the attention of the intelligent public. 

Joseph Pulitzer 

It wasn't well written. He had dashed it off. But he was satisfied 
with what it said. 

There was a tap on the door. A messenger boy poked his head in. 

'Well at last! Why are you so late?" 

"I don't work here. I work for the telegraph company. Mr. Hurl- 
bert asks me to look in once a day for any messages." 

"From now on you work for me. Whatever they pay you ITU raise 
it. Report at ten in the morning; you*!! work late but I'll pay you 
well." 

"Gee! It's a deal!" his cocky swagger pleased his new boss. 

On his way down the stairs the messenger boy was stopped by 
Hurlbert. "Let me see that," he ordered. He looked at the message, 
address and the name on it: John Cockerill, Linden Hotel, St. 
Louis, Missouri. "Come at once" Hurlbert did not bother to read 
any more. The message was the handwriting on the wall for him. 
He set his old-fashioned hat squarely on his head and took himself 
and his wounded pride out of the World building forever. 

On May 1 1th the Pulitzer-edited issue of the World hit the news- 
stands. Although by his own standards it was nothing to brag 
about, it caused a wide ripple of excitement in several areas of the 
city. From their entrenched, solid positions other newspaper pub- 
lishers read it with a patronizing attitude but also with alarm. 
Pulitzer, they felt, was a crazy young Lochinvar out of the West, 
doomed to fail. A flash in the pan. But his style was disturbing. It 
might just appeal to some people. The storm story, for instance. 
Headlined "The Deadly Lightning!" subheaded "Six Lives and One 
Million Dollars Lost," and the two columns packed with human in- 
terest stories. And the article on Keane if Keane really was on the 
rocks then the World might win for itself a reputation for shrewd- 

132 



ness. They turned from the account of the murderer's last night 
with genteel disgust; he had refused a priest, said the World, and 
shouted, "I'm not a Catholic. I'm a Democrat!" and went to his 
death protesting: "Yer hangin' an innocent man!" 

The old readers of the paper were stunned. What had happened 
to the conservative policy and to Hurlbert's conservative editorials? 

There was still another group who took a sharp interest. The 
news dealers had quick eyes for boosting sales. They noticed that 
people who came up to their stands to huy a paper, even though 
they might be regular purchasers of the Times or the Tribune or 
the Herald or some other sheet, stopped to glance at the front page 
of the World, took another look and bought it. The news dealers, 
cannily, moved the World up to the front of the counters. Maybe it 
would catch the eye of the casual passer-by and make him -want to 
buy a paper. 

"How come? How come, Joe, you're pushing the World}" a 
hackney cab driver, waiting for a fare, asked a dealer. 

"No, sir! I never push one paper over another. I'm neutral, I am. 
But," he added, lowering his voice, "I read it and I liked it. It's dif- 
ferent. It jumps the news right out at you. See that bakery shop 
there? Anderson owns it. Always buys the Herald. Today he takes 
a look at this story of the storm in the World and he says to me 
Why, that s Flossie Mayhew, my aunt! In New Jersey. They've got 
her own words about how she yelled for help when her chimney 
caught on fire in that terrible wind/ Anderson bought six copies to 
show all his family. And that murder story brrrr! fair gives you 
the shudders, it does. I can't get it out of my mind; I'm not sure they 
should print such things but it's Heaven's warning to all of us, it is.' 1 

The cab driver bought a paper. 

The furious tempo that Pulitzer had set that first day at the 
World did not slacken. If anything, with the coming of John Cock- 
erill and McGuffin from St. Louis, the pace increased. Both of the 
imported men were as stormy and determined as their boss. Every 

133 



day there was an editorial council and their furious arguing could 
be heard all over the floor. Peter TWnsend, one of Hurlbert's staff 
who was kept on the Pulitzer pay roll, wrote to a friend of his: 

I hardly knew the office. A cyclone had struck . . . men were 
hurrying around. . . . JP seemed to be everywhere . . . now 
arguing with a reporter, now dashing to the composing room, 
now suddenly descending on the market editor. , . . He loves 
argument. ... He told me once that it is in debate that a 
man's qualities appear above all, whether he has moral cour- 
age 

If it was debate and argument and courage he wanted, he got it 
from Cockerill and McGuffin. 

John Cockerill had been somewhat sobered from the St. Louis 
tragedy, but he was still a robust and hearty fighter. Not a tall man, 
he gave the impression of bigness. The heavy mustache on his 
upper lip, curled and twisted on the ends, seemed to be constantly 
bristling with indignation and energy. The rest of his face was 
smoothly shaven. His hair, parted in the middle and dipping slighdy 
over his forehead, was always combed just so. He wasted no time in 
Pulitzer s nervous gestures of running his fingers through beard 
and hair when disturbed. Cockeriirs square-set body held a con- 
trolled, disciplined dynamo inside it. 

At the first council meeting he outlined new ideas. 

Tve been doing a lot of thinking" 

"Heaven help us," Pulitzer commented dryly. 

Cockerill ignored this. 'Tve been thinking what we can do to 
improve the looks of the paper. I want to experiment with bold, 
black type for the leads to catch the eye. As it is now, all the stories 
run right into each other. Then," he went on, with an embattled 
eye on McGuffin, "I'm going to separate each news item with white 
space. And at least a quarter of an inch between lead and sublead 
and sublead and the copy itself." 

134 



As he expected, McGuffin rose to the bait with a roar of injury, 
"You want to ruin us financially before we even get started? New 
type! White spaces! Empty white spaces when we need every inch 
we can get for what we need to print? Would you like it if maybe 
we printed a whole page blank? Or we pulled out the ads so you 
could have room for your white space?" 

The argument raged. Cockerill won by the trick of turning Mc- 
Guffin's wrath against Pulitzer. "You think I'm the one who is go- 
ing to cost us too much money? Wait until you get the bill for all 
the pictures Joe is planning for the Brooklyn Bridge spread!" 

"Pictures!" McGuffin tore at his shirt collar. 

"Yes, pictures. Drawings. Cuts," Pulitzer explained, his voice 
rising as he tried to drown out the manager's explosive protests* 
"We've got a newspaper here that is practically unknown to the 
public in general. I have to have bait. I'm going to have a drawing 
on the front page of every issue, so that when the World is folded 
on the newsstands it will impel people to notice it." 

Shaky as their finances were, he got his pictures, and Cockerill 
his type and his new, widely spaced make-up. The World was gam- 
bling and it was no time to pinch pennies. 

McGuffin's concern about spending unnecessary money much as 
his employer valued this trait in him almost brought the paper to 
disaster in the first week. He cut off the ice for the drinking water 
in the composing room and refused to give the men soap with which 
to wash their hands. 

The men were furious. They had long wanted to make the World 
a union shop and McGuffin's action was the spark that set off re- 
volt. They walked out They went on strike, demanding ice in their 
drinking water, soap in their washroom and the right to join a 
trade union, with the higher wages that would bring them. 

John R. O'Donnell, president of the Typographical Union's local 
No. 6, presented the strike demands. Pulitzer invited him and 

135 



Cockerill to Keenan's Cafe next door to the World Building to talk 
things over. 

Cockerill was for fighting the demands. Pulitzer disagreed. 

' We can't have a strike. We've worked for days on that Brooklyn 
Bridge spread for tomorrow. Were counting on it to make a splash 
in this town that will bring the World to everyone's attention. Tell 
the men they have their demands, O'DonnelL" 

McGuffin was slow in carrying out the order. The men had gone 
back to work when Pulitzer wandered into the composing room 
several hours later. It was hot in there. He stooped to get a drink 
from the water bucket and immediately spat it out in disgust. It was 
lukewarm. 

"McGuffin!" he roared. "Get that ice!" He was as personally out- 
raged as the composing room men themselves. 

The Brooklyn Bridge double-page spread, across two full inside 
pages, crowded with pictures and drawings, was a tremendous suc- 
cess. It had been preceded several days before by the kind of jour- 
nalism that was typically Pulitzer's the crusade on behalf of the 
people's interests. In this case it was a call, repeated day after day, 
to eliminate the five-cent toll for pedestrians crossing the bridge. 

Even earlier the World had startled its readers with a plain- 
spoken editorial entitled "Our Aristocracy.'* It was bitter sarcasm 
directed against the rich and fashionable who thought their furs 
and their jewels and their bad manners made them aristocrats, and 
it ended with a tribute to the laboring men who built the country, 
calling them the only real American aristocracy. 

And on May 17th the World published its platform: 

1. Tax luxuries 

2. Tax inheritances 

3. Tax large incomes 

4. Tax monopolies 

136 



5. Tax the privileged corporation 

6. A tariff for revenue 

7. Reform the civil service 

8. Punish corrupt officers 

9. Punish vote buying 

10. Punish employers who coerce their employees in elec- 
tions. 

These were all burning issues. With these two editorials and with 
the dazzling double-page spread of the Brooklyn Bridge, the circu- 
lation of the World took a decisive, unprecedented turn upward. 
Newsstands could not keep up with the demand. Rival editors, still 
muttering 'flash in the pan/ were bewildered. Nothing like this 
skyrocket leap into popularity had been seen before. 

The answer was simple. People were hungry for news, for facts, 
written in an easy, colorful style they could readily understand. 
They liked a paper that stated boldly it was for their interests 
against the rich and powerful, and they liked it still better when it 
lived up to its statement. 

Now that the first hurdle had been overcome and the staff was 
enlarged, Pulitzer was free to do what he most wanted: to launch 
into the presidential election campaign. 

He had his eye on one man. The governor of New York was 
Grover Cleveland. In an editorial which called for all the forces of 
the Democratic party to heal their splits and work together, Pulitzer 
inserted the thought-provoking tag that they should find someone 
like Grover Cleveland. This was the first suggestion of Cleveland 
as a possible candidate. 

The World was in on the ground floor. It had picked the man 
who was to win. The World's campaign for Cleveland established 
it as a political power to be reckoned with. The Democratic ma- 
chine swung into line; the voters liked the New York governor's 

137 



record; the World kept up a steady stream of pro-Cleveland edi- 
torials. 

He was elected. Many years later Cleveland was to say: 

... the contest was so close it may be said without reservation 
that if it had lacked the forceful and potent advocacy of 
Democratic principles at that time by the New York World 
the result might have been reversed. 

It was not to be supposed that the other New York papers sat 
idly by and watched this newcomer take away their readership. If it 
was this undignified, sensational kind of news people wanted, the 
Sun and the Tribune and the Times would give it to them. But old 
habits were strong. They imitated the World, but reluctantly. Day 
after day big news stories were ignored by them and splashed across 
the pages of Pulitzer's newspaper. 

In their alarm, both Bennett of the Herald and Dana of the Sun 
took, strong actions which boomeranged so badly that they alone 
were hurt and the World got the benefit of their mistakes. 

The World was selling for two cents a copy at that time. Bennett 
cut the price of the Herald from three to two cents to fight Pulitzer. 
But rather than lose the profit he had been making at the higher 
price, he cut down the percentage the news dealers were getting 
from him, from one half to one third of a cent a copy. The dealers 
retaliated. They wouldn't handle the Herald. Bennett was forced to 
build his own newsstands and hire his own dealers. He lost heavily 
in sales and the World picked up his old readers. 

Then Dana backed the wrong man for president. Partly because 
of a petty grudge against Cleveland and partly to show the upstart 
World that he was still the newspaper editor whose political wisdom 
was unquestioned, he came out for Benjamin Butler. During the 
last days of die campaign the circulation of the Sun dropped from 
137,000 to 85,000 a day. Again the World benefited. 

In the first three months of Pulitzer's taking over the World cir- 

138 



culation rose from 22,761 to 39,000 a day. By the end of the year 
the circulation was on a par with the biggest in the city and by an- 
other year it had passed all the others! 

The World had arrived. It was on top. A new kind of journalism 
had come into being. 

By that time his staff had come to view their publisher with the 
awe of someone half devil, half god. They were terrified at his 
wrath when they made a serious mistake; their admiration for his 
wisdom was almost reverence. No longer did he write copy himself 
or edit it or write heads or make up the paper though he could 
still do all these things in a pinch. His true genius came out now in 
his ability to pick the right man for the right job, to instill in others 
his own fervor and excitement for work and to keep men balanced 
against each other so that out of turbulence came a fresh and lively 
newspaper every day. 

He still worked hard. He still drove himself. Cockerill and Kate 
Pulitzer entered into a conspiracy to try to make him relax and take 
things easier. 

But how could he explain to them, even to a beloved wife ancf 
a dose friend, the terror that had been sitting on his shoulder from 
the first day he walked into the World Building? If he failed? 
And the smallest thing, a litde detail missed, a false story, could 
trip him. That first week before Cockerill had come he had had 
to be responsible for everything; he had even moved his office 
temporarily to a tiny cubbyhole off the composing room to be 
closer to the workers. He used to leave Kate at the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel early in the morning and come back to her so late at night 
the sky was already getting pink at the approach of dawn. 

Alone in the building at night, reading copy and planning the 
pages for the next day, Joseph Pulitzer could be seized with a doubt 
and fear that tore at his already overworked nerves. He had never 
given his body the rest it needed. Now he piled a load on himself 
that was more than muscle and nerves could take. Several times 

139 



those first weeks he found himself growing dizzy and faint as he 
walked down the stairs. Behind his weakened eyes was a constant 
throb of pain. 

The fact that the World was now an established success only 
piled more responsibility on his shoulders. He had now three edi- 
tions to cope with: a Morning World, an Evening World and a 
Sunday World. Editors and staff had to be found for all three. 
Crises developed daily on every one of them. 

In addition, during the Cleveland presidential campaign, he had 
allowed himself to be elected representative from the Ninth Dis- 
trict. He was sent to Washington to take his seat in the Forty-ninth 
Congress. 

Kate protested. 

"It was bad enough to have you working day and night at the 
World. At least I could visit you there and Ralph could play 
around in your office and realize he did have a father. And you 
were home for breakfast. But now!" It was wintertime. The two 
of them were crossing Gramercy Park to the home they had leased 
facing it. The snow was falling and the cold had even whipped 
some color into her too-pale cheeks. Joseph looked at her and his 
conscience hurt him. Little Katherine had died a month before. 
The tragedy had been terribly, grievously hard on both of them but 
more so on Kate because he had less time to think of it. He had no 
right to be away from her at this time. 

"I was an imbecile to have run for office. I am criticized in 
Washington for not being in Congress often enough; Cockerill 
complains I neglect the World. I proclaim that the paper is free of 
any political ties, then I become a Democratic representative, tied 
to a party machine, forced to line up in House debates with my 
Democratic colleagues whether I agree with them or not. I was a 
fool. But more than that: how could I treat so lightly the privilege 
of being the husband of the most beautiful woman in New York 

140 



and the father of the best children that I hardly ever see them? 
I will resign tomorrow." 

She squeezed his arm gratefully and took one of his gloved hands 
in hers, inside her muff. "I was beginning to think you were 
deserting me for another woman." 

'Well, to tell you the truth, I was. I am." 

"Joseph!" 

Never demonstrative in public, this time he broke his rule. He 
caught her close to him while she struggled to get away. "Not only 
that, Kate a French woman. Half French, half American. Even 
more beautiful than you are, dear." 

'Who is she!" 

"The 'Statue of Liberty/ Kate." 

It was true. Joseph had become obsessed with the stone goddess. 
While he was a congressman he had stumbled across a shameful 
secret that was kept from the public. The people of France had 
raised a million francs and commissioned the great sculptor Au- 
guste Bartholdi to create a great statue of Liberty as their gift of 
friendship to America. The statue was finished. It lay, crated, 
gathering dust in a French warehouse, because Congress had re- 
fused year after year to raise enough money for the gigantic pedestal 
to hold the goddess high enough on Bedloe's Island so that her 
torch might be seen by every ship entering New York Harbor. 

Joseph was determined to rescue her from this shameful be- 
trayal. He issued an appeal through the pages of the World: 

Money must be raised to complete the pedestal for the 
Bartholdi statue. It would be an irrevocable disgrace to New 
York City and the American Republic to have France send 
us this splendid gift without our having provided even so 
much as a landing place for it. ... 

The World is the people's paper, and it now appeals to the 
people to come forward and raise this money. The $250,000 

141 



that the making of the statue cost was paid in by the masses 
of the French people by the workingmen, the tradesmen, the 
shopgirls, the artisans by all, irrespective of class or condi- 
tion. Let us respond in like manner. It is not a gift from the 
millionaires of France to the millionaires of America but a 
gift of the whole people of France to the whole people of 
America 

The appeal ran next to a full story of how the statue had been 
-conceived, and how built. There was a drawing of the goddess. 

The response was electric, unheard of. Money poured into the 
World offices. It came mosdy from the poor a dollar from a family 
taken from meager savings, a nickel from an office boy, a collection 
from an evening where artists contributed their services, thirty-five 
cents from an old woman, five dollars from the wages of shopgirls, 
contributions from dubs and trade unions, a jar of pennies that a 
Storekeeper brought in as the gift from himself and his customers. 
Letters came with the money. Printed in the World, they made a 
strong bond between newspaper and readers because they were 
doing something together for a common purpose. 

It took time. A lot of pennies and nickels and dollars were 
needed, but finally on August 11, 1886, the story broke in head- 
lines in the World that one hundred thousand dollars had been 
collected. The goal was reached. 

Now, as the statue was loaded onto the French ship Is&re for its 
voyage to its new home, other newspapers and the great statesmen 
in Washington belatedly came to support the project and to claim 
some credit. The public laughed. The "Statue of Liberty" was 
coming because they had made it possible they and Pulitzer of the 
World. 

His own emotions, as he stood with other dignitaries of the city 
and the nation at the official dedication on October 28th, were a 
mixture of fierce pride and deep humility. There it stood! The 

142 



beautiful goddess with the torch of liberty and the inscription on 
it a passionate promise of justice and freedom: 

Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 

The statue was built and designed by Frenchmen; its inscription 
written by a Jewish poetess Emma Lazarus; its pedestal promoted 
by an Austrian-born, Jewish-Catholic newspaper publisher; the 
money for it subscribed by Americans of all possible origins and 
races and religions. The dedication was one of those rare moments 
when it seemed as if a whole nation bowed its head to an idea. 

When he had first become a newspaper publisher in St. Louis, 
Pulitzer had ordered a strict ban on dialect stories or jokes that 
reflected on anyone's creed, race or nationality. 

Among the crusades of the World there were many against 
forms of discrimination. It strongly attacked the Ku Klux Klan for 
its white-robed, night-riding violence and spoke of the courage of 
the Negro people for withstanding this faceless, treacherous 
cruelty. When, in later years, Theodore Roosevelt invited the great 
Negro leader Booker T. Washington to the White House, the 
World was one of the few newspapers that applauded the action 
in an editorial. 

Other editors were not as scrupulous about chauvinistic name- 
calling as he. Not only was Pulitzer caricatured, with his head 
ten times the size of his body and his nose five times the size of his 
head, but the language attributed to him was what, in the minds 
of these editors, passed crudely for German-Jewish dialect. The fact 
that he was Jewish was used again and again as an insult, in print. 

Pulitzer's orders to his editors were: Ignore it. No retaliation in 
kind. 

143 



Except for that one restriction, everything else went in a fight. 
He would swap blow for blow, verbally and in print, with any 
opponent. Cartoons and caricatures were a favorite weapon of his. 
The outspoken language of both the World and the Post-Dispatch 
became famous; evildoers squirmed to see their names mentioned 
and dreaded to read the story about themselves. 



144 



eight 



When Joseph Pulitzer first bought the World its issues ran to 
only eight pages and six columns to a page. The paper was soon 
expanded to ten pages, the columns increasing to seven, A Sunday 
World was created and in its second year its readership was 150, 
054 every week. New presses had to be bought to handle the three 
issues: Morning, Evening and Sunday Worlds. Annexes were 
found, with one building as far out as Brooklyn. 

The editorial management was becoming too much for Pulitzer 
and Cockerill to handle. Ballard Smith was enticed away from the 
Herald to be managing editor. Cockerill was promoted to "editor in 
charge." 

Headlines big ones were one of Smith's innovations. He was 
also responsible for bringing to importance the personal interview 
with people of prominence. Because of his own social connections 
he broke through the icy barrier of the "four hundred" and made 
its doings common gossip for the pages of the World. 

Two such strong men as Smith and Cockerill were bound to 
dash. Pulitzer was caught in the middle of their arguments but he 
let them go on. It became a principle with him to keep authority 
divided at the top. As the years went on this policy resulted some- 
times in the wildest kind of confusion with no one sure of authority, 
but it also meant that no one individual's ideas not even his own 

145 



could become dictatorial or so hardened they couldn't change. He 
felt that men worked best collectively. 

In 1887 Pulitzer began another election campaign that was to 
prove disastrous to him, personally. 

He had had his eye on a young man, De Lancy Nicoll, as a likely 
prospect for district attorney. As an assistant in that office, Nicoll 
had been instrumental in helping the World to ferret out the fraud 
behind a streetcar franchise, and in a great public scandal he had 
succeeded in indicting the crook Jacob Sharp and in putting the 
bribed aldermen into jail. Sharp had killed himself rather than face 
justice. 

At first Charles Dana of the Sun went along with the Nicoll 
candidacy for district attorney. It seemed it would be an easy and 
natural victory. Everyone realized that Nicoll and the World had 
worked closely together on the streetcar scandal, but the young man 
was of such unimpeachable reputation it did not seem to Pulitzer 
that anyone could resent his having a kind of sponsorship of the 
candidate. 

He was mistaken. Suddenly Dana turned, in an unbelievably 
slashing, personal attack, against both him and Nicoll. Every day 
Dana s pen, dipped in acid, spattered across front page and editorial 
page of the Sun his opinions of the World: 

The World has taken up the cause of Mr. Nicoll after the 

fashion of a highwayman with a pistol The World breaks 

into the affairs of the city as train robbers enter an express 
car ... this would-be Sahib of the Bohemian race [meaning 
Pulitzer] . . . this renegade Jew ... the Democrats of New 
York will not yield one hair's breadth to the insolent demands 

of that political road agent The candidate who stands for 

boss dictation is Nicoll and the boss behind Nicoll is Judas 
Pulitzer, who exudes the venom of a snake and wields the 
bludgeon of a bully. . * . 

146 



The World editors and publishers were stunned by Dana's sud- 
den about-face although a look at their own rising subscriptions 
and the Suns falling ones might have indicated the reason. But 
when Dana also raked up the old story of Cockeriirs killing a man 
in St. Louis in a duel and implied that Pulitzer had freed Cockerill 
by bribing the court, this was too much. The World let loose an 
editorial blast of its own: 

These statements are malicious lies, about what might be 

expected from Charles Ananias Dana The revival of the 

St. Louis affair ... is worthy of a ... mortgaged, broken-down 

calumniator in the last agonies of humiliation Two grand 

juries thoroughly investigated the case of Mr. Cockerill and 
refused even to return a bill. . . . No influence, direct or other- 
wise, was ever employed upon the public prosecutor. This is 
a plain statement of fact which mortgaged Dana, with all his 
ingenuity as an unmitigated scoundrel and actuated by a 
hatred which amounts to insanity, cannot controvert 

The election campaign mounted to a fury of activity in bolt the 
Nicoll camp and that of his opponent Fellows. Pulitzer worked 
night and day, speaking, writing, planning; he was away from his 
desk only to confer with the Nicoll campaign managers or to 
speak in his behalf at some luncheon or meeting. Kate was frantic. 
She begged him to rest and resorted to scheming with Cockerill 
to see that Joseph had a rare evening to spend at home. Even then 
she saw that he was like a man consumed with fever; his cheeks 
had burning red spots, his eyes were bloodshot; he jumped at every 
crackle of a log burning in the fireplace. 

It was a long and dirty fight. Actually there were two batdes 
going on: the Nicoll-Fellows contest and the separate attack to try 
to kill the World. Dana confused the two. 

Fellows won. His opponent was a young and relatively unknown 
man and Fellows was backed by all the weight of the Democratic 

147 



party machine. Charles Dana had one exultant, gloating moment 
of belief in his personal triumph. For him this meant that the Sun 
was again the power it had once been, the power behind political 
thrones. His editorial that day came from a man who believed he 
had crushed his enemy: 

And now, Pulitzer, a word with you! 

You stand before this community in the same startling 
light that you stood in some years ago in St. Louis when your 

career of scandal and blackmail culminated in murder We 

could wish with all our hearts, Pulitzer, that St. Louis had 
possessed a stronger stomach. You might have stayed there. 
. . . We wish, Pulitzer, that you had never come. 

But that you are here is indisputable, and that the public 
has found you out is obvious. In this experimental stage of 
universal sentiment it is not possible to state definitely what 
your fate will be. We do not know. We can only see clearly 
that it will be something unpleasant 

Move on, Pulitzer, move on! 

Dana thought he had smashed the World but all he had done 
was to help win an election. Pulitzer answered the gloating with 
the cold, hard facts which his competitor would have liked to 
forget: 

The editor of the World accepts the hatred of Mr. Dana as a 
compliment. . . . He especially appreciates the agonized heart- 
cry of Mr. Dana, which appears in yesterday's issue of the 
Sun, in the midst of a literary muck-heap, which could only 
be found on the editorial page of that paper: 
'We wish, Pulitzer, that you had never come." 
Nothing could be truer than this. From his innermost soul 
the broken and humiliated editor of the Sun wishes that the 
regeneration of the World had never taken place. In four 

148 



years' time he has seen the circulation of his paper dwindle 
until it has fallen into the third rank; he has seen his dividends 
vanish; his income swept away. . . . 

Sad, no doubt, Mr. Dana is, that somebody came who 
could provide the New York public with the newspaper which 
it wanted. But the man is here, and he will remain. The 
World is stronger and better today than it ever was 

The man is here, and he will remain. Strange that an election 
of a district attorney, so inconsequential to history, should play 
such a tragic drama in the lives of both these men: Dana and 
Pulitzer. For the editor of the Sun it was the last, fleeting moment 
of old glories revived; it was the swan song of both Dana and his 
paper. Never was he to regain his power and popularity though 
the Sun was to linger on for years. 

The man is here, and he will remain. Pulitzer saw, rightly, that 
losing the election meant no loss to the supremacy of the World. 
But it had been a bitter, terrible, drawn-out fight and his personal 
involvement in it had been more costly than anything he could 
have imagined. His own personal tragedy was drawing near. 

Late that same month he came as usual to his office. He sat at 
his desk and pulled toward him a galley proof of copy. Cockerill, 
on his way into his chiefs office with a report, saw him sitting 
motionless and hunched; for once that straight, proud back was 
stooped. There was a sound from him, a murmur of astonishment 
and fearful knowledge. He raised his head and his old friend and 
co-worker was never to forget the awful look on his face. 

"I cannot read a single line! 1 cannot see!" 

Late that night Cockerill went to the Pulitzer home. He was 
met by Kate and by Thomas Davidson who had come east on a 
visit. 

"The doctor says his eyesight will return/* she told him. "But 
he also says that Joseph has punished his body in a way that no 

149 



human being can stand and he says it is imperative that he rest 
and have a change of scene, away from newspapers." 

"I hope he recovers quickly/' said CockerilL 'We need him. 
With a morning and evening edition and a Sunday to get out, 
it's like having a bear by the tail and you can't let go. I don't 
relish the responsibility; even with Carvalho and Greaves handling 
the evening paper it is still" he broke off, wondering at the 
gravity and the silence of the other two. 

Davidson spoke. "Dinna ye ken what that mon has been 
through? He came here a young laddie with not a word of the 
language in him; when he most needed friends he was abused by 
the soldiers of the Army; after that he starved aye, he starved and 
was cold and had to beat his way to St. Louis; it was no easy for 
him. When I first met him he was a hungry boy hungry for food 
as well as for the books many a time I think my cup of tea was 
all he had for the day. He read and he studied; he would forego 
the meal for the book. He strained his eyes. And when he became 
a reporter for the Westliche Post and ever since that time he has 
worked like a slave! People look at him and they say he is a rich 
mon, a canny one, a lucky one but do they know the insults, the 
humiliation, the savage and ruffian persecution Joseph has had to 
face?" 

"I don't want him to come back to work for a long, long time, 
John," Kate added, quietly. "I am afraid for him." 

The trip to California was not a success. The strong sunlight 
hurt his eyes. He had recovered some of his sight and it seemed to 
be getting stronger all the time, but the glare was too much for 
him. A new development alarmed him even more: any sharp noise 
was an agonizing jolt to his nerves. He could feel it like a blow. 

They returned by way of St. Louis. Pulitzer made a brief visit 
to the Post-Dispatch. The paper was doing well and prospering, 
even though he had given it very little attention. He hated the city 
and was anxious to leave it. For him his first, beloved paper was 

150 



spoiled by the memory of the mob swarming around it. He was 
never to see it or the city again. 

Back in New York he forced himself to visit the World only 
rarely, and each brief visit taught him the folly of it. The loud 
noises of the press, the voices, the scratch of pen on paper-all the 
familiar sounds that had meant so much to him now were intol- 
erable. He stayed in New York only long enough to purchase the 
site for the new building to house the World. It was more than 
coincidence that the spot he picked was the old French's Hotel, 
at the corner of Park Row and Frankfort Street. This was the very 
place a bootblack had ordered him to leave years ago because his 
overcoat was too shabby for the customers. 

He left Kate with the children and took ship to Europe to 
consult with the best doctors he could find. In London, first, then 
in Paris, he was examined by specialists. Everywhere the verdict 
was the same: complete absence from any city or any place or 
person or scene that would even faintly remind him of a news- 
paper! Where could he find such a pkce? 

An idea had long been forming in his mind; not so much an 
idea as a dream. Quiet, still waters and the sensation of floating 
on endless waves, nothing to see but the monotony of the sea 
about him: a shipboard cruise might be the very cure he was 
looking for. He always felt better on the brief journeys across the 
ocean to the Continent. Perhaps a long sea voyage, with no time 
limit, would be what he needed. There he could guard against any 
new impact to his failing eyesight or his racked nerves. 

Kate joined him, and they began a leisurely slow trip toward 
India and China and Japan. 

He tried to keep his mind off the World. It was hard to do. 
There were questions Cockerill or Carvalho or Smith had to ask 
him and cables could still reach even to shipboard. He hired 
Claude Ponsonby, a secretary to read to him and keep him in- 
formed and send his instructions about matters dealing with the 

151 



World or the great building rising on the torn-down foundations 
of French's Hotel. 

En route to India the ship turned into a Grecian port. A cable- 
gram was waiting for him there from Colonel William Davis, his 
brother-in-law whom he had appointed as a sort of watchdog in the 
World offices to referee the differences between his editors. The 
message, long and indignant, was really of little importance and 
had to do with a petty squabble elevated to a major quarrel and 
demanding an answer from Pulitzer. 
It threw him into a passion of rage. 

"Intelligent men!" he stormed to Ponsonby, striding up and 
down the deck of the ship. "Quarreling like children over every 
least little thing and coming running to me to take sides. When the 
policy of the World is so clear, why cannot they use their own 
brains to settle these matters? I have told them to consult me on 
important matters only and this is what they send me!" he crum- 
pled up the message and stepped to the railing to hurl it into the 
sea. Suddenly he stopped. He clutched the rail. 

"How suddenly it has gotten dark," His voice was hushed. 
"It's not dark," Ponsonby replied. The sun was glaring down on 
the blue waters. 

"Well, it's dark to me." 

The secretary could say nothing. He had the shock of feeling he 
could not possibly have heard those words. 

For a long moment Pulitzer stood silent, frozen, lost in a swing- 
ing, whirling void where there was neither light nor time nor space. 
Blind! A moment ago he had been a part of this ship and this 
port. Even though dimly, he had looked at his fellow passengers 
and known when they were looking at him; he had seen with his 
weak eyes the blue water and the fishermen singing in their tiny 
boats below and the bustle of cargo unloading on the dock and the 
dazzling white houses with their red-topped roofs of the little town 

152 



that circled the bay. And now it was all gone. He was alone in the 
empty, terrifying loneliness that only the blind can know. 

"Mr. Pulitzer-" 

"Send for Dr. McLane." This was the doctor who had accom- 
panied their party, both as friend and physician. "No, wait take 
me below to my cabin. I don't want people staring at me." Beneath 
the iron control of his voice there was raw anguish. 

Ponsonby guided his steps. Once Joseph Pulitzer reached out 
his hands to feel in front of him, then he quickly dropped them 
at his sides. That was the typical gesture of a blind man. He 
would not copy it. 

Dr. McLane's verdict after examination was final and nearly 
hopeless. The retina of one eye had become permanently de- 
tached. It would never function again. In the other it was just 
possible that he might regain not sight but enough vision to 
distinguish light from dark and a solid object if it was right in front 
of him. 

"What can we do, Doctor?" Kate asked. She held Joseph's hand 
tightly. 

"For the eyes? Nothing. The danger comes from the nerves and 
from the paroxysms that come over your husband with any noise 
or excitement. You will have to adjust your life so that you can 
control this, Mr. Pulitzer. You will have to separate yourself from 
any kind of active life." 

"Exile" Joseph murmured. 

"Yes. But first I would suggest you return to New York to see 
Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. He has had excellent success in treating 
nervous disorders. I am not too hopeful but I believe we should 
see him as soon as possible." 

They transferred to another ship immediately and started home, 
At Naples the ship's schedule called for several days of stay, in 
order to load and unload cargo. McLane took his patient to a 
darkened room in a Naples hotel so that he could have relief from 

153 



the noise of the docks. No sooner were they settled in the hotel 
when gun blasts rattled the very walls of the room! They found 
that artillery practice had been ordered in the city's fortifications 
and were scheduled to keep up, hour after hour, for an entire week. 

McLane wired to officials in Rome. While they waited an 
answer the guns went on roaring, all day, all night. 

"How does he stand it?" Ponsonby asked the doctor. Tears ran 
down his cheeks. "Every blast is like a convulsion on his body. He 
is being crucified! Yet he sits there and listens to me read Goethe 
to him and talks about Goethe as if nothing was happening to 
him." 

"He is a strong man. Unfortunately his body was never as strong 
as his will," Kate replied. 

The message came back from Rome. For Mr. Joseph Pulitzer, 
the world-renowned publisher of two mighty American newspapers, 
for the privilege of having such a great visitor to Naples, the artil- 
lery practice would cease. It was a pleasure to do such a small favor 
for such a man. 

They reached New York in October of 1890. Joseph was forty- 
three years old. He was in the prime of life; but Dr. Weir Mitch- 
ell's advice to him, after the examination, was the same as McLane's 
and it virtually meant that life as he had known it was ended. 

The examination took place in the Pulitzers* new home on East 
55th Street. After it was over he said good-by to the doctor and 
rejoined his family in the library. This room of all others he loved 
the most. Before going abroad he had stocked its shelves with 
thousands of his favorite books. On one wall were priceless tapes- 
tries. He would never see them again. 

Kate and the children Ralph now eleven, Lucille ten, Joseph 
five, Edith four and the baby Constance only two and sitting in 
her mother's lap waited for him. For two hours, until the chil- 
dren's bedtime, the family was together and they talked of ordinary 
things and listened to Lucille's problems at school and Ralph's 

154 



excitement over being allowed to '"help out" at the World building 
and to the laughter and playing of the younger ones. At last Kate 
and Joseph were alone. 

"What will this mean to us, Joseph?" 

He had thought about it and faced the truth. "It will mean long 
separations from you, Kate. The children need you and you will 
have to stay here with them. They must go to school; they cannot 
wander around the face of the earth with me, even if I could 
stand to be with them that long." One of the bitterest things he 
had to face was that the normal behavior of his children their 
playing, their childish shouts and squabbles and even their laugh- 
terwas too noisy for him to bear. "I have given this some thought, 
Kate. It seems to me that I must reconcile myself to the facts, no 
matter how unpleasant they are. I am almost blind. I have a 
wrecked nervous system. I must stop toying to live in a makeshift 
way. The solution can only be that I make a life for myself that 
will fit my condition and adapt rooms and places and situations 
to -me, instead of trying to adjust to them. We will have to start 
with soundproofing certain rooms in this house, Kate." 

She shuddered. It sounded as if he were talking of his own 
prison. "That can be done, Joseph." 

"But while it is being done I will have to get out of the noise 
of the city. I plan to buy a yacht, dear. In that way I can go where 
I please and seek for the quiet I need." 

"And I can be with you sometimes!" she knelt by his side. 
His hand, groping, touched her face. "I have made you cry, 
Kate. Forgive me." 

"Joseph!" Even through the film of her tears the verdict seemed 
unreal. He was big and strong. The tall body, six foot two, was not 
stooped and the physique seemed to be that of a vigorous, healthy 
man. His illness had not ravaged his face. There were lines of 
character and intelligence and suffering in it but the over-all im- 

155 



pression was one of nobility. Only the dark, thick glasses over his 
eyes indicated the weakness. 

On October 16, 1890, an announcement was made on the front 
page of the World which began: 

Yielding to the advice of his physicians Mr. Joseph Pulitzer 
has withdrawn entirely from the editorship of the World. . . . 

A short time later he went on board the yacht Romola, to begin 
the strangest part of his life. 



156 




The year before, the cornerstone of the Pulitzer Building had 
been laid. Four-year-old Joseph Pulitzer, coached by his smiling 
mother, had had the honor of wielding the trowel to mortar the 
stone in place. Within it was placed sample copies of newspapers 
of the day, a medallion commemorating the fact that the World 
had reached a circulation of two hundred and fifty thousand a 
day, pictures of the Pulitzer family, and other historic mementos. 

Now the building was sufficiently completed to permit the 
World to be published from there. An immense gold dome sur- 
mounted the building and could be seen from the windows of other 
newspaper editors. That dome hardly looked to them like a flash in 
the pan now! 

In turning over the editorial affairs, Pulitzer thought he had hit 
upon a perfect scheme. Authority was divided between Colonel 
William Davis, his brother-in-law, and Cockerill and George 
Turner, the World's business manager. But it didn't work out. 
Turner and Cockerill were mortal enemies, jockeying constantly 
for power. 

To keep the peace, Pulitzer ordered Cockerill to exchange places 
with John Dillon of the Dispatch. Dillon agreed and came to New 
York, but Cockerill did not want to leave the city. So when a 
chance came along for him to acquire a small paper of his own, 
he quit but not in anger. "John" and "Joe" were to remain lifelong 

157 



friends; never again was the World to have an editor who fitted so 
ably and so well the task of steering the paper along the policies 
kid down by Pulitzer in his first statement of ownership. 

Ballard Smith became editor in chief. 

Barely had the new order of things had a chance to get shaken 
down into routine when a major news story broke. The Homestead 
steel workers went on strike. Should the World favor the company 
or the strikers? The argument raged back and forth between the 
editors. The other newspapers, almost unanimously were against 
the strike, and called the striking workmen Anarchist! and Foreign- 
ers! Radicals! 

What was the World to do? They had orders not to disturb 
Pulitzer, but this was too big for them to handle alone. A cable 
was sent to him on board ship. 

His answer asked just one question: What are the facts? 

Special reporters were immediately sent to the scene of the strike. 
It was found that Homestead had hired hundreds of Pinkerton 
detectives, armed them with guns and set them on the unarmed 
workers. The climax was a bloody massacre; Pinkerton men drifted 
down the Allegheny River in gunboats until they came opposite 
the unarmed mass of workers on shore, fired on them, killing six 
and injuring scores. 

When Pulitzer heard these facts he cabled back: Print that 
story. Drawings and eyewitness accounts filled the pages of the 
World. Again the paper was to stand alone for what it believed to 
be right. 

And so, in spite of his firm decision to "withdraw entirely from 
the editorship of the World' Pulitzer remained. There were con- 
tinents and oceans between him and his newspapers for most of 
his life. Rarely did he come to Chatswold, his home in Bar Harbor, 
where he could hold conferences with his staff across a table. Yet 
on almost all important matters of the World he, and he alone, 

158 



made the final decisions, guided policy, hired and fired men-often 
without ever having met them. 

He had been a great reporter, then a great editor. Now, blind, 
sick, exiled, he was to prove himself still a great publisher and 
handler of men. 

The men who worked at one time or another on the World 
would fill a roster of the greats of journalism: men such as Irvin 
S. Cobb, Lester A. Walton, who later became ambassador to 
Liberia, Walter Lippinann, Albert Payson Terhune, better known 
for his dog stories, Deems Taylor, Heywood Broun, Laurence 
Stallings and Maxwell Anderson (their great play What Price 
Glory was born in the restaurant on the fourteenth floor of the 
Pulitzer Building), Winfield R. Sheehan, Franklin P. Adams, Her- 
bert Bayard Swope, Don Seitz and countless others. 

William H. Merrill, brilliant editorial writer, was hired away 
from the Boston Herald. Over a period of many years Merrill was 
to rise to a position of top authority, next to Pulitzer himself. This 
man was a strange figure in the World offices. He was quiet, 
sedate, forceful only in the keenness of his mind and his ability to 
handle men and situations. There was no storm or bluster here; 
all was order and calm. Once, when Congress was preparing to 
act upon a certain bill, Merrill was expected to write his editorial 
on it late that night. At his regular hour of six, he picked up hat, 
coat, gloves and cane to go home. 

Someone asked him why he didn't stick around, have his dinner 
at Keenan's? The news of the bill might be coming in at any 
moment. 

"Because/* replied Merrill, "in twenty-five years I have never 
missed dinner at seven." He continued: "I rise at seven o'clock, 
breakfast at seven-thirty, read the papers until eight-thirty, ride my 
horse in Central Park until nine, then take the El downtown. By 
ten I am at my desk. I lunch at one, finish my work and go home 
for dinner. At ten-thirty I am in bed." 

159 



In the world of the press where habits were so irregular as to 
be no habits at all, Merrill stuck out as a peculiarity. 

He outlived many other editors, nevertheless. By 1904 he was 
getting ready to retire and Pulitzer was looking for his successor. 
He talked it over with Samuel M. Williams, one of his secretaries, 
and complained that good editors were hard to find. Williams 
objected. There were plenty of good men in the country. Fine! 
Pulitzer promptly gave him the job of finding one. 

For weeks Williams studied every newspaper. He traveled from 
city to city, reading and studying editorials and news stories, look- 
ing for the men who had written them. Finally he found the man. 
It seemed that the writings of one Frank I. Cobb in the Detroit 
Free Press answered every one of Pulitzer's exacting qualifications. 
He wired his employer about his find. 

Pulitzer's prompt wire asked: 

WHAT HAS COBB READ IN AMERICAN HISTORY? RHODES, 
McMASTER, TREVELYAN, PARKMAN? WHAT WORKS ON THE 
CONSTITUTION AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW? HAS HE READ BUC- 
KLE'S HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION? WHERE DID HE STAND DUR- 
ING BRYAN'S FREE SILVER CAMPAIGNS? WHAT ABOUT THE 
STATE OF HIS HEALTH? How TALL IS HE? Is HIS VOICE HARSH 
OR AGREEABLE? TAKE HIM TO DINNER AND NOTE HIS TABLE 
MANNERS. Is HIS DISPOSITION CHEERFUL? SOUND OUT HIS 
AMBITIONS: WHETHER SATISFIED OR LOOKING FOR A LARGER 
FIELD. BE VERY CAREFUL TO GIVE NO INTIMATION I AM INTER- 
ESTED. DESCRIBE MINUTELY HIS APPEARANCE, COLOR OF 

EYES, SHAPE OF FOREHEAD, MANNERISMS, HOW HE DRESSES. 

SEARCH HIS BRAIN FOR EVERYTHING THERE is IN IT. 

This was a large order. Williams took Cobb to dinner and 
sounded him out. The young man, twenty-four years old, tall 
and muscular and pleasant looking, answered every question with 
an amazing fund of knowledge. He passed every testeven one 

160 



which he could have had no idea was a test. At the end of the first 
course Williams leaned back with a sigh of relief. He could write 
jubilandy to Pulitzer: "He ate soup without a gurgle!*' 

Cobb took over the main editorial desk at the World. Time and 
again his ideas clashed with those of his employer's; time after time 
he quit or was fired, repented or was hired back at a bigger salary. 
For all their batdes, the relationship between the two men became 
almost that of father and son. 

The early, startling growth of the Sunday World was largely due 
to the work of Morrill Goddard and still later of Arthur Brisbane. 
But not only great men were on the World staff. 
One day, in 1878, a tiny girl battled her way for three hours to 
get past guard and staff to see John CockerilL Pulitzer happened 
to be in his own office with the door slighdy ajar between his room 
and CockerilTs. He heard her impassioned plea to become a re- 
porter for the World. It was unheard of. Women just did not work 
for newspapers. 

But Joseph Pulitzer was impressed with Nellie Ely's ideas. She 
wanted to get stories from the inside; to work as a shopgirl, a 
factory girl, a servant, and then to write these stories for the World. 
He heard in her voice an echo of his own driving enthusiasm as a 
young reporter in St. Louis. She had the same itch to get the facts 
no one else had and the same interest in people. She wanted so 
badly to be a reporter! He hired her on condition she get herself 
committed to Blackwell's Island, the notorious asylum for the 
mentally deranged of New York, in order to report honesdy on 
conditions there. 

She succeeded in fooling doctors and even the judges who com- 
mitted her. When she came out ten days later she wrote a story 
that was a bombshell, exposing the harsh treatment and the hor- 
rible conditions on' the island. 

After that fabulous start, Nellie Ely was given a free hand by 
Cockerill to write as she pleased. Her exposes were weekly features 

161 



of the Sunday World. She became America's first accredited news- 
paperwoman, with her own desk in the city room of the nation's 
biggest newspaper. Pulitzer raised her to international fame when 
he arranged for her to make a trip around the world to beat the 
record of Jules Verne's fictional hero of Around the World in 
Eighty Days. Nellie made it in seventy-two days, six hours and 
ten minutes and set a new world record! 

The reasons for the success of the World could be seen by a 
quick glance at the front pages of the New York newspapers for 
February 8, 1887. 

The Tribune had no pictures. The type used by the Times was 
uniform; story and heads were crowded together. The World used 
bold headlines, half a dozen drawings, wide white spaces to set off 
its stories. The World had ten pages while the others had four and 
six. 

The big news in that issue of February 8th was a railroad wreck 
.at the town of White River Junction in Vermont. The World had 
four columns on it with eyewitness accounts by a fireman hero 
who saved half dozen people from death, the words and stories of 
dozens of the victims, the nurses and the doctors. Drawings 
showed the scene, the people and the wreck itself. 

The Tribune had two columns. No eyewitness accounts, no pic- 
tures. The Sun headlined its account "The Railroad Slaughter'* and 
wrote it vividly, but in only one short column. The Times ignored 
the story completely! 

But in 1896 all this was to change. No longer would the World 
be supremely confident of its top circulation. A rival appeared on 
the scene. From then on Pulitzer's staff must fight to keep their 
readers. 

William Randolph Hearst had once worked for the World. 
When he took over the tiny San Francisco Examiner he had writ- 
ten to his father: ". . . it would be well to make the paper as far 
as possible original, to clip only when absolutely necessary and to 

162 



imitate only such leading journals as the New York World " 

Now, with the Examiner a booming success, Hearst was ready to 
invade New York and challenge the paper he considered the best 
in the country. 

Albert Pulitzer had sold his Morning Journal to a man named 
McLean; McLean sold to Hearst. The Journal was only a small 
newspaper with a small plant. Office space had been rented in the 
Pulitzer Building and it was here, on the eleventh floor, right in 
the heart of the World empire, that Hearst came to lay his plans. 

No one saw any danger in his presence there. The Morning 
Journal was too insignificant a sheet to cause any worry. The first 
indication of trouble exploded like a bomb. Editor Goddard and 
the entire staff of the Sunday World had been hired by Hearst and 
had already left the Pulitzer Building and set up shop at the plant 
of the Journal. 

Cables flew to the publisher's yacht. Pulitzer, furious but desper- 
ate, replied: "Hire them back!" An offer was made at higher 
salaries: back to the World trooped Goddard and the rest. 

But the game of musical chairs was not finished. Two hours later 
Hearst had upped the ante once more, and once more the whole 
crew deserted to the Journal building. This time Pulitzer refused 
to play the game. They could stay with Hearst. 

But by now Pulitzer knew that he had a dangerous adversary 
to cope with. Arthur Brisbane was given Goddard's job as Sunday 
editor and instructed to go into the fight with everything he had 
in his power, in order to smash this upstart. It was obvious that 
Hearst was relying on the Sunday edition to establish himself. 

There began a battle of sensationalism such as had never been 
seen in the press before or since. Readers ate their Sunday morn- 
ing breakfasts to such an accompaniment of murder, crime and sex 
splashed across the pages of both the World and the Journal that 
this era gave to dictionaries the phrase "yellow journalism." The 
term came from one particular battle of the two papers. For a long 

163 



time the World had been famous for introducing the first comic 
strips. Especially was it noted for the strip called "Hogan's 
Alley," but which all the readers called by its more familiar name 
of the 'Tellow Kid." Hearst lured the cartoonist to his staff, but 
the World owned the rights to the tide, so for a while both news- 
papers were running the comic strips which featured life in Hogan's 
Alley. 

Finally Pulitzer decided the World was going too far. He or- 
dered Brisbane to cut down on the too-sensational stories. It was 
hopeless to try to smash Hearst and the World was losing every 
shred of dignity in the battle. 

A few months later Brisbane, too, deserted to the Morning 
Journal. 

Pulitzer held no grudge against Hearst for stealing his editors. 
It was entirely in keeping with his own practice of constandy 
searching for the best journalists for his own papers, and he was 
even guilty of taking away a man from his own St. Louis Post- 
Dispatch if it would benefit his beloved World. Such a bit of piracy 
resulted in the appearance of Charles E. Chapin in the New York 
office. Chapin was a great editor, a colorful figure. He became the 
model for the hard-boiled type of editor that was soon to become 
popular in books and on the stage. 

He expected his reporters to get the news even if they had to 
steal, lie or break their necks to do so. The story is told of him 
though it is also credited to other editors that a reporter once 
phoned him to say that he was trying to interview a man but the 
man not only refused, he threatened to beat him up. Chapin told 
him: "You go back and tell him he can't scare tne!" 

Another time a reporter was late to work. He had used up all 
his excuses on other occasions. If Chapin wasn't to fire him, this 
excuse had to be a good one. 

"You won't believe this," he told the editor, "but just as I was 
leaving the apartment house, a fellow came out and said a man 

164 



had died next door and asked me to please help carry out the 
corpse." 

"Good," Chapin said, "write a story about it. Well put it on 
page one,* 1 

He knew the story was a lie, but he let the reporter suffer for 
hours, thinking he was expected to write that story, so that the 
lesson would sink in. 

The New York Times and the Tribune began to change with the 
demands of the age. Slowly but solidly they built up their reputa- 
tion and their circulation. But since the reading public had also 
grown, the World could still hold its own, and when Pulitzer and 
his editorial staff set out to right a wrong, to expose a scandal-* 
whether it was a local streetcar franchise or a national fraudthen 
there was no other publication to equal them. 

Late in the fall of 1908 the World took on its biggest expos6 
and made its biggest enemy. 

Theodore Roosevelt, then President of the United States, had 
just bought rights to dig the Panama Canal from a French syndi- 
cate for forty million dollars. The nation was jubilant. The canal 
would be a great boon to all civilization. With this point of view 
the World agreed, but there was a mystery surrounding the pur- 
chase that bothered Pulitzer and the editors. 

Particularly it bothered William Speer, a man on the editorial 
staff. He began to investigate. Who were the members of this 
French syndicate? Why was it popularly supposed that the French 
government had been the ones to negotiate with the American 
government? Under Speer s probing the story began to unravel 

Years ago France had commissioned a syndicate to explore the 
possibilities of a canal in Colombia, The syndicate had obtained 
certain rights and had begun the digging. They abandoned it. The 
French company had sold out to whom? A fake revolution had 
taken place and a strip of land was removed from Colombia and set 
up as independent Panama. 

165 



Who owned the syndicate now? It still had the same French 
tide, but over and over the name of one William Nelson Crom- 
well began to crop up in Speer's investigations. Then Speer discov- 
ered an astounding fact: the French had been paid only twelve 
million dollars that was all that had been asked for the rights 
to the canalbut the syndicate had received forty million dollars 
from Roosevelt. Where had the rest of the money gone? 

Speer wrote an editorial. He put in it all his facts and all his 
doubts. And he headed it: WHO GOT THE MONEY? 

When the story was read to him, Pulitzer ordered Speer to keep 
asking that question and to ask it until it was answered: 
"Who got the money?" 

Roosevelt took both editorials and question as a personal libel on 
his own honesty. Later Pulitzer was to admit that the World had 
gone too far in implicating the President. It was Cromwell and his 
associates who were suspect but it was also true that Roosevelt's 
own brother-in-law was in some way associated with Cromwell's 
enterprises. 

The government drew up a libel suit against Pulitzer and the 
World. Now the question of the Panama Canal was lost in a 
bigger one: has a president the right to censor a newspaper? What 
is meant by freedom of the press? 

Pulitzer's battle was not just for himself but for all newspapers. 
He won. The indictments were squashed and Judge Anderson said, 
as he gave his decision: 

It was well stated by a former President of the United 
States that it is the duty of a newspaper to print the news and 
tell the truth about it. It is the duty of a public newspaper, 
such as is owned and conducted by these defendants, to tell 
the people, its subscribers, its readers, the facts that it may find 
out about public questions, or matters of public interest; it is 
its duty and its right to draw inferences from the facts known- 
draw them for the people 

166 



Neither the people nor the World ever did find out the answer 
to the question of who got the money. A congressional investigation 
made a halfhearted attempt and came to nothing. 

During the long legal fight Frank Cobb was called before a 
grand jury. The Deputy United States Attorney-General ques- 
tioned him: 

Q. Do you know Mr. Pulitzer? 

A. I do. 

Q. Did you see him after the President's message of De- 
cember 15? What did he say about the message? 

A. He agreed with me that it was an attempt to muzzle 

the paper Now if the World had been intimidated by this 

libel suit and had shown the white feather, lesser newspapers 
could hardly be expected to have the courage to criticize the 
President 

Q. By muzzling you mean preventing the paper from 
printing anything it sees fit to print? 

A. I mean, preventing the paper from printing that which 
is its duty as a great newspaper to publish. 

The questions of the attorney-general became personal: 

Q. When you go to see Mr. Pulitzer, what do you talk 
about? 

A. Mostly about politics, in which he is very deeply inter- 
ested. But chiefly we discuss the policy of the World. Mr. 
Pulitzer conducts a school of journalism in regard to me. He 
often says he expects that I shall be able to carry on the prin- 
ciples of the World for the next twenty years. 

Q. You regard Mr. Pulitzer as the Big Man of the World? 

A. I regard Mr. Pulitzer as the Big Man of all American 
newspapers* 



167 



ten 



Overhead, the clouded sky was steel-gray. In mid-Atlantic the 
ocean was a smooth and monotonous gray, broken only now and 
then by the silver plumes of the rising, falling swells. Over this 
sea the yacht Liberty rode, a startling, blinding contrast of gleam- 
ing white paint and shining brass. 

It was early morning. A steward moved about the library, dusting 
the bookshelves. His foot caught on a chair leg and made a scrap- 
ing sound. He looked down, horrified. How could he have for- 
gotten? He was wearing leather-soled shoes! and the library was 
right over Mr. Pulitzer's bedroom. He had violated one of the 
strictest rules aboard: to wear nothing but rubber sneakers any- 
where on the ship. Quickly he knelt down and slipped the 
offending shoes off his feet, and tiptoed out to his own cabin. 

In the big room below, running the full breadth of the deck 
space and twenty-five feet long, the man sleeping in the four- 
poster bed stirred uneasily. He had heard something. A small, 
scraping sound that had penetrated even through the double thick- 
ness of bulkheads and the double doors of his bedroom. He stirred 
and muttered. One arm stretched out from tinder the covers. Long, 
sensitive fingers fumbled for just a fraction of a second with the 
bedside lamp and then found the electric switch. 

Immediately, soft yellow light threw its reflection on his face. 
The other man in the room, who had been sitting quietly waiting 

168 



in the shadows, noted the way the light struck the high bones of 
forehead and cheek and nose, highlighted the strands of silver in 
the black hair and in the reddish beard. For a second he could even 
see the blue of one eye in shocking contrast to the opaque dullness 
of the other. 

Even that blue was an illusion. There was almost no sight 
behind it. 

"Good morning, Mr. Pulitzer." 

"Good morning, Dunningham." He was waiting, in tense panic, 
for a repeating of the scraping sound that had awakened him. 
When seconds passed and it did not come, he relaxed and smiled. 
"A very good morning. I slept well. And this is an important day, 
Dunningham." 

"I know. A cablegram came late last night from Mrs. Pulitzer. 
She is in complete agreement with all your plans." 

"Dear Kate. Of course she is. We talked it over when I was at 
Bar Harbor last" 

He rose. The two men worked together like an efficient team 
co-ordinated by long practice, Joseph Pulitzer had learned how to 
do many things by his sense of touch and hearing. He was now 
sixty-three years old; it was 1910; he had adjusted his physical 
world to his needs and knew how to make his way within those 
limits. 

Without stumbling he walked to the washstand. This was built 
high enough so he did not have to stoop. Dunningham had noticed 
one day, at the old washstand, that lowering his head brought a 
painful rush of blood into Pulitzer s eyes, 

Jabez E. Dunningham stood in a peculiar relationship to his 
employer: part nurse, part steward, part diplomat, confidential 
agent, personal manager and friend. The greatest proof of trust 
in him was that Pulitzer, pathologically shy of exposing any part 
of his body, would allow this man to help him dress. 

When the famous sculptor Rodin had begun the bust of 

169 



Pulitzer's head and shoulders there had been a violent, stormy 
quarrel. Not even for Rodin would he open his collar or loosen 
his tie. 

While the two men worked they talked. 

"Did you answer Kate that we would be coming to Chatwold 
this month?" They had purchased the big estate of Chatwold at 
Bar Harbor and had built a special "Tower of Silence/' a complete 
wing soundproofed for him there. "I'm hoping Joseph can come 
on from St. Louis. The Post-Dispatch can do without him for a 
week. It's good to know that he is there and Ralph at the World. 
Even with me at sea, they are still Pulitzer papers. When Herbert 
grows old enough hell be a newspaperman, too, I hope/' 

"It will be pleasant for you to see the grandchildren, too/' 

Pulitzer chuckled. "The rascals. They think a grandfather who 
can mount and ride a horse and teach them to ride, too is an 
absolute magician." 

Dunningham went on to make reports. The ninety-seven-page 
memorandum had been sent before they left Cap Martin and 
cables were here from the World in answer. It seemed there was a 
little trouble again. 

"Can't they save their little troubles'? Can't they spare me 
those? They know the kind of newspaper we are running! As long 
jas it is honest and fearless and stays independent" his voice was 
rising in an angry pitch. 

Dunningham saw his mistake and quickly changed the subject. 

"The new secretary Mr. Ireland I think he worries that he 
hasn't been able to please you. Don't you think I should reassure 
him?" 

Pulitzer s face always registered every emotion he felt. Now hfc 
turned toward the other in astonishment, his anger forgotten. 

"Why should he think that? I've been no harder on him than 
on the others. Though, as a matter of fact, I wasn't sure of him 
until recently. He was too meek. But he gave me a good argument 

170 



the other day; he will do. I like that Yes, tell him, by all means- 
I wouldn't want him to think I don't appreciate the efforts he 
makes, though he has a lot to learn. If he's going to stay with me 
he must learn I cannot tolerate sloppy thinking or poor memory or 
half-digested facts/' From his quick sensitivity to his secretary's 
worries he plunged into an unhappy, moody distress of his own. 
"I wish they could understand, all of them, what it is like to have 
to get everything from them secondhand. If they are wrong, then 
I am wrong and I cannot be wrong! Too much depends on it. 
They have to be my eyes; I must go through their brains to my 
own. They are like an extension of myself." 

He was angry again not at the men but at the prison he was 
in. Every time Dunningham saw him like this, and it was often, 
he was reminded of a wild eagle struggling against the bars of a 
cage, wings clipped, the instinct to soar as fierce as ever. 

"I know I make them slave, poring over books and newspapers 
day and night. Don't they realize" 

"They do, Mr. Pulitzer. They realize that you have to work ten 
times as hard as they. You have to take not one secretary's work, 
but five and sort it out, think about it, remember it all, make 
judgments from it. You can't jot down what you want to know or 
remember. It all has to be in your head.' 

Pulitzer clapped his friend's arm. "Did I sound as if I pitied 
myself? Well, sometimes I do. But this isn't the day for pity or 
gloom. Come on, let's breakfast." 

Abovedeck, next to the spacious library was the bridge (this 
odd construction was to keep the men on watch from walking to 
and fro over Pulitzer's head) and on the other side of the library 
was the dining room. 

This morning there were four men in it. All of them were secre- 
taries: Alleyne Ireland, Norman Graham Thwaites, Friederich 
Mann, George Craven. Another, William Romaine Paterson, called 
the "walking encyclopedia" by the others, for his fine memory, was 

171 



busy going over the cabled news stories that had come that morning 
and was still in his own cabin. 

"Another day. Same routine/' Mann sighed. He helped himself 
to bacon and eggs from the sideboard. 'Til be glad when we arrive 
at Chatwold; there's more variety and we have more leisure to 
ourselves." 

"And," Craven put in slyly, "how do you spend it? You go to 
Boston and New York hunting for German novels to amuse J.P. 
and for new recordings to play for him. This time I am determined 
I am going to see one theater play just for myself no trying to 
remember each scene for him, no analyzing it, no critical attitude- 
just see a play for my own amusement." 

"Don't kid yourself. You 11 be repeating it line for line all the 
way back from the theater. This becomes a habit with us." 

"Doesn't the pressure ever relax?" Alleyne was new. He was 
curious over the intense devotion of these men to their work for 
Pulitzer. He felt it himself and he was not sure just why: he was 
paid well but money alone could not have made him stay through 
the slavery of the work and the passionate tempers he had to face 
from his employer. Why did he stay? He wasn't sure. 

Thwaites answered him. "The only times we can take it easy is 
when Mrs. Pulitzer and the family come aboard for trips. Herbert 
was with us for a while last year; J.P. spent a lot of time with him." 

Paterson came in, rubbing bleary eyes. "I stayed up until three 
o'clock this morning," he explained, "reading Rousseau's Confes- 
sions. I made the mistake yesterday of saying Rousseau left the 
Hermitage because of a quarrel with Diderot. J.P, challenged me. 
He was right. Now he's caught me in one mistake he'll go after 
me hammer and tongs on the rest of it." 

"You're lucky this morning. You get the first reading." At break- 
fast time one of the secretaries just skimmed over the lighter news 
items in the cabled news dispatches. Later Pulitzer would demand 
a more intense reading, and the secretary who had that job for the 

172 



day came in For a real workout, making detailed notes as he went 
along of the publisher's comments so that an analysis might be 
prepared for the World staff in New York. 

Pulitzer walked into the dining room, his arm through Dunning- 
ham's. His face was genial. The secretaries relaxed. This was not, 
then, to be one of those days when his racked nerves made him 
outrageously demanding, exacting, sarcastic even cruel Those 
days came seldom. Even in the midst of them he could sometimes 
force himself by sheer iron will to become good tempered. When 
that happened the men around him were moved to such love and 
pity they could forgive him anything. 

Alleyne Ireland had wondered if that was the reason? Did they 
stay with J.P. out of pity because he was a tragic figure? It didn't 
seem the right answer, somehow It lacked something. 

This morning Pulitzer surprised them all. "Ireland, we will let 
the Macaulay readings go this afternoon. You can read me the 
essays tomorrow instead." 

Instantly they all came alert Why the change? But Pulitzer said 
no more. The morning went on as usual. 

All of the cabled news had to be read, examined; the answer 
prepared to send back to the World. By eleven-thirty that morning 
Thwaites was reading back to J.P. the notes they had made: 

Good lead on the Kaiser Wilhelm story tell Cobb not to 
indulge in fancy guesswork does he know situation between 
France and Germany getting worse? Get the facts. Rest of 
page weak bank robber described as short what is short? 
Four feet? Five feet? Be exact. Electric power utility scandal 
written too vague I know the name of every man involved 
and so do you. Put them in. The World protects no one. Edi- 
torial on Philippines good keep it up-the World favored war 
with Spain but should have given them independence imme- 
diately afterward call it by right name Teddy Roosevelt im- 

173 



perialism women suffrage article very poor ridicule not 
effective 

And on and on it went. Then Craven had his turn. It was his 
job to read to his employer the backlog of newspapers of all 
countries and states that they had picked up in a tremendous 
bundle at Cap Martin. Day by day these were sifted. 

At luncheon, again, there was a change in the day's schedule. 
Pulitzer did not join them for his usual discussion of books and 
plays and music. Instead he ate from a tray in the library, behind 
closed doors, and they could hear his voice rising and falling as he 
talked to Dunningham. 

Alleyne Ireland asked the others: "Why does he demand so 
much study from us? I can understand that he would work us 
hard over newspaper reports; that's his job. But I sometimes feel 
he doesn't have us read books or discuss plays with him for his 
entertainment; he puts us through the hoops." 

"Sometime," Paterson explained, 'lie will tell you the story of 
a boy in St. Louis and a teacher by the name of Thomas Davidson. 
You are right He wants to make us learn and think. It's diversion 
for him, too. He flogs his mind, drives it to the point of exhaustion. 
If he isn't thinking, then he has too much time to feel and then 
he falls into those moods of gloom and despair and self-pityhe 
keeps his mind going to avoid them." 

After lunch Friederich Mann slipped away to the library. Soon 
through the closed door came the soft strains of the Brahms "Lul- 
laby." Dunningham came out As he opened the door Ireland 
caught a glimpse of Pulitzer on the couch, an afghan pulled over 
him. Mann sat slightly behind his head and read, softly, a German 
novel. His voice was gradually dropping lower and softer. From the 
couch came the whisper: 

"Leise, ganz leise-ganz leise (softly, quite softly). . . ." Pulitzer 
murmured as he drifted into sleep. 

174 



Dunningham joined Ireland on the deck and the two men 
walked while Dunningham told the other of J.P.'s good opinion of 
him. The new secretary found himself pleased out of all proportion 
to the compliment. Why? he wondered again. Is it because he is 
older and because we on board live a sort of family life, with him 
playing the role of father? 

"I hope he sleeps today. He has an important announcement to 
make later this afternoon and he wants all of us to gather in the 
library. If he sleeps now, the excitement may not be too much for 
him; I hope so. Strange that music can soothe him while other 
sounds are torture. It is the unexpected noise, the sharp, crackling, 
scraping, shrill noise that bothers him so much. That reminds me, 
Ireland. I don't like to mention it but you may have noticed we 
no longer serve almonds after dinner?" 

'Yes. I was going to speak to you about it. I am very fond of 
almonds." 

'We discontinued serving them until I had an opportunity to 
speak to you. You have a habit of breaking them in two before eat- 
ing them. The snap of breaking them affects Mr, Pulitzer as dis- 
astrously as if you fired a pistol right in his ear." 

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry!" 

"No need to be. It embarrasses him that he is so sensitive to 
these things and he can't bring himself to speak to you himself. 
That's my job. All of us have had to adjust simple, ordinary things 
we do to make life a little more bearable for him." 

Could it be, Ireland pondered, precisely the strangeness, the 
weirdness, of this life that attracted him and held him to a most 
difficult job? 

At three o'clock the summons came for the staff to be in the 
library. One by one they filed in and saw that chairs had been ar- 
ranged in a semicircle around J.P/s desk. They took their places. 
A moment later he walked in and seated himself, facing them. He 
took a sheaf of papers from Dunningham and arranged them by a 

175 



sense of touch so that they spread fanwise on the desk. A slight 
tension gripped the spectators as he fumbled for a moment among 
the papers, selected one particular bound document by the weight 
and feel of it and handed it to Dunningham. 

Pulitzer cleared his throat. "Gentlemen/* he said, "I have asked 
you to come in here for a special reason. I am going to read you my 
will/' There was a low murmur of surprise through the room but 
he checked it by raising his hand slightly. "I mean, of course, that 
Mr. Dunningham will read it to you/' 

Dunningham began reading: 

I, Joseph Pulitzer, of the City of New York, being of sound 
mind, do make, publish and declare 

Pulitzer interrupted him. "The legal language, I am afraid, is 
tiring to me and boring to others. Perhaps it would be better, gentle- 
men, if I simply told you the important bequests in it. I should like 
to explain them, too, since some are of a rather startling nature, I 
will start with the minor ones first: there will be one, not quite a 
million dollars, to the Philharmonic Society of New York you see, 
Friederich, my interest in music is not just an old man's self- 
indulgence. There will be another legacy of the same amount to 
the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Twenty-five thousand dollars for 
a statue of Thomas Jefferson the city can put it anywhere they 
please, for all I care." 

He smiled to himself. "I have had some arguments over this 
statue. My friends feel it is a waste of money. A statue! Why not 
give the money to a hospital, perhaps? But I feel that not enough 
honor is paid to the man who is most responsible for our concept of 
American democracy. If it had not been for Jefferson, the Consti- 
tution and the Bill of Rights might well have been scraps of paper. 
He headed the revolt of the American people against the Alien and 
Sedition Acts; it is his concept of democracy that I believe in, that 

176 



no man should be prosecuted for what he thinks or believes. 
Thomas Jefferson has always been a guide to me." 

From his pocket he took a cigar and rolled it, lovingly, between 
his fingers. His doctor forbade him to smoke except after dinner, 
but just for today he was going to disobey orders. As he lit it, Ire- 
land felt that discipline had relaxed enough so that he, too, could 
light his pipe. 

When Pulitzer spoke again his voice was no longer genial. It had 
become intense. His face lifted. His sightless eyes seemed to be 
seeing visions beyond the limits of the room. "I have left for the 
World a trust fund so it may live on forever. The World was never 
just a financial enterprise. It must continue forever to be the cham- 
pion of the people, for good against evil, for honesty against cor- 
ruption. The money I have put in trust for it will not be enough to 
insure its life, but we have proved that a newspaper founded on real 
democratic ideals and the good of the nation can also prosper on its 
own. My own life is mortal; the World must be immortal." 

Never before had the men facing him been so struck with the 
majesty and the sublime dignity of his face. 

He went on: "There is another bequest even dearer to my heart. I 
would like to help train newspapermen to become real journalists, 
to realize their duty and obligation and responsibility to the readers 
for whom they publish. For this they must be educated men. I have 
long had an idea. It has been called impossible, ridiculous, fantastic. 
But I have finally persuaded the trustees of Columbia University 
that it is not so farfetched as it sounds and they are ready to accept 
it I am giving now, before my death, two million dollars to the 
Columbia University, in New York, to found a School of Journal- 
ism." 

There was a ripple of astonished surprise in the room; an involun- 
tary shifting, nervously, in seats. A school of journalism? 

"The school will also be a memorial to my beloved daughter Lu- 
cille Irma, and will carry her name." 

177 



Ireland felt a quick rush of tenderness and sympathy. J.P.'s voice 
had broken, grief stricken, at the mention of this oldest daughter, 
this daughter who had heen so like him, and who had died so 
suddenly when she was seventeen, a young and lovely and spirited 
girl. 

Then the hig head lifted again. The face of Pulitzer changed 
from sadness to one that showed a slight smile. As if he had read 
their minds he knew their questions about the school. 

"I know. You are thinking: it has never been done before. People 
will laugh and say that newspapermen are born, not made. They 
are word-scribblers and the School of Hard Knocks is the only one 
they need. I agree that the best classroom for a newspaperman is 
the experience, the learning from life and from the people he is 
writing for. Perhaps newspapermen are born with certain character- 
istics of curiosity and inquisitiveness that direct them to their pro- 
fession; but it is not enough. Observation is not enough. They have 
to be taught to express themselves clearly, to know the difference 
between a straight news story and a human-interest story, to learn 
what makes one page interesting in its make-up and another dull. 
But the main reason for a School of Journalism is to teach young 
men and women to think. To give them a wide knowledge. How 
can a man write editorials the editorials that are the heartbeat of a 
newspaper unless he knows something of history and poetry and 
science and geography and philosophy and the arts? That is what 
my School of Journalism will give them." 

Thwaites had been with his employer long enough to interrupt. 
"But won't that mean that newspaper editors and reporters will be 
coining only from the well-to-do families who can afford college 
educations for them?" 

A shadow of pain crossed Pulitzer s face. "I thought of that. I 
would not want that to happen. The best* I can do is also, in my 
will, to provide for scholarships to the school. And to encourage 
better standards for newspapermen and for literary men in America 

178 



I am leaving money for prize awards to be given each year for the 
outstanding novel of American life, the outstanding newspaper 
story, the outstanding editorial, the best poem-and so forth-that 
will advance the cause of democracy." 

While the roomful of men was silently thinking over these be- 
quests of the will and to most of them the idea of a school was 
truly fantastic! Pulitzer rose from his chair and walked to the fire- 
place. One hand groped for the mantelpiece, found it and steadied 
himself by it With his back turned he spoke to Ireland: 

"Mr. Ireland, you have not been long enough with me to form 
prejudices. You are not a newspaperman. I would like to have your 
opinions." 

"I think the will is magnificent!" he said enthusiastically. The 
other men looked at him, surprised. "I think it may do for journal- 
ism what Pasteur did for medicine and what Shakespeare did for 
the stage. It will raise journalism from being a job that men drift 
into or a vehicle that men can use to promote some selfish interest 
of their own. Journalism will become a profession, with dignity. 
And a newspaper will someday be recognized as a weapon as mighty 
as a sword and as illuminating as a lantern coming into a dark 



room." 



Pulitzer was pleased, but he smiled in an amused way. "You are 
young, Mr. Ireland, and therefore given to extravagances. I hope 
you are right. But if you are even partly right, then my life and 
work is not a failure. . . ." His voice rose suddenly in passion: 
"Something will go on! The World was not perfect. We made mis- 
takes. We backed the wrong candidate sometimes and we failed 
because we were human and sometimes because we, too, were 
selfish. There is more good work we have left undone than we have 
done; more of the rights of the people still needing justice than we 
have heeded. I have lost faith at times because it seems to me there 
is no balance: the rich get more and more power, the poor lose more 
and more rights. Can't we make democracy work for all? We must 

179 



keep trying! that is all I know! I will not be here but I want to leave 
a newspaper that will go on fighting, a school that will teach, and 
money to help those who need it!" 

Dunningham touched him on the arm. Passion and fire were 
burning up his strength; when he turned away to leave the room 
on Dunningham's arm his steps faltered and dragged. 

And now Ireland knew the answers to his question: Why did 
men, secretaries or newspapermen, work like slaves for this Joseph 
Pulitzer? It was not just pity for his blindness. It was not just die 
response of men to the fatherly interest that Pulitzer took in eager 
and young minds. 

It was because, in spite of tragedy, Pulitzer had risen above it. 
In spite of his blindness he saw more than most people. In spite of a 
sick body his mind was powerful. In spite of his wealth he identi- 
fied himself with those less fortunate. In spite of his handicaps he 
was still a mighty figure in journalism. In spite of his exile he was 
one of the foremost men of the country he loved so dearly. 

He was a great man. 

One year later on October 29, 191 1, the Liberty lay at anchor off 
Charleston, South Carolina. Joseph Pulitzer was dying. His last 
words as he sank gratefully into eternal sleep were the same as 
those he used to whisper to Mann as the music played after lunch- 
eon: "Leise, ganz leiseganz leise" and softly, quite softly, with- 
out pain, Death came to him. 

Ireland heard the news on deck. He turned away, blindly, from 
Dunningham' s anguished face. He walked to the side of the ship, 
gripped the railing and bowed his head. He cried, just as every 
person on board was crying, for the great man who was at last at 
peace. 

In 1931 other men and women wept. It was not an uncommon 
thing for journalists to see newspapers come and go, to see them 
flourish and then die away. They weren't by nature immortal. If a 

180 



newspaper couldn't meet the competition, it either had to be sold, 
merged with another or fold up entirely. Hard-boiled journalists 
took this for granted. But not the Warldl This was a paper like no 
other. J.P.'s will had said it was not to be sold; it was to be consid- 
ered almost a public trust. His three sons Ralph, Joseph and Her- 
bertwere to see to it that the World lived forever. 

Yet all through the summer and fall and winter of 1930 rumors 
had been flying around the Pulitzer Building that the paper was 
going to be sold. Although they were denied, they persisted. The 
staff had become alarmed, first, when Ralph had resigned the 
presidency of the Pulitzer Press and Herbert had taken his place. 

Everyone knew that Ralph was devoted to the World, just as 
Joseph, out in St. Louis, was heart and soul in love with the St. 
Louis Post-Dispatch. But Herbert? The younger son had been only 
sixteen years old, and still a schoolboy, when his father died. He had 
never worked on a newspaper under his father's supervision, as the 
other two had, and he had never absorbed any of his father's pas- 
sion for journalism. "Young Maister Herbert" the reporters called 
him, looking upon him as a typical rich man's son who liked to 
mingle with society and shoot big game in far-off parts of the 
world now that he was grown to manhood. 

Herbert as president, Ralph ill, and the business of the nation- 
including the business of running newspapers in the grip of the 
worst depression America had ever known no wonder there were 
rumors! The staff of the World were stunned at first. They couldn't 
believe it The paper had been going downhill for the past few 
years, true; but it had survived other depressions. It wasn't that 
they were afraid for their jobs. Experienced newspaper people like 
themselves were in demand anywhere. They could find work. It 
was more than that: this paper was as dear to them as were their 
own families, their religion, their very selves. They knew the 
paper wasn't making as much money as it used to, so they pooled 

181 



their small savings and borrowed more and offered it all to Her- 
bert. 

"Let us buy in!" they begged him. 'We'll not only run the 
World; we'll help support it during this emergency. But don't sell 
the Warldl 

He refused. The sale went through. Roy Howard, of the Scripps- 
Howard chain, bought it. It was merged with another paper to be- 
come the World-Telegram. (Some years later this combination was 
to merge again and take over what was left of old Dana's Sww, to 
become the World-Telegram and SunJ) 

That last night of its old life, under its old name, all of the World 
employees editors, reporters, copyreaders, typesetters, compositors, 
stereotypers, artists, pressmen, mailing-room workers, deliverymen, 
office boys worked with the same shock and anger and hurt in 
their faces. Tomorrow, March 8th, they would no longer be there. 
All of them had cried, or come dose to it. Now some were tight 
lipped and angry; some paused in their work to wipe away tears 
they couldn't keep back; others cursed at the betrayal of old J.P.'s 
will. For how many years had it been their proudest boast to say: 

"1 am of the World!" No matter how any of them now felt, 

they were all agreed on one thing: this last issue of the World was 
to be their best. Not one inaccurate statement; not one typographi- 
cal error; no slipshod make-up of the pages the best they had in 
them was their last tribute to Joseph Pulitzer. 

One by one, as the work was finished, lights were switched off in 
room after room. A man walked slowly out of the big front doors. 
He passed a group of reporters lingering on the sidewalks, and he 
knew they were talking as they would reminisce for the rest of 
their lives of the great stories, the glorious past, of the World. 
His own footsteps sounded hollow and ghostly where so many 
feet had rushed back and forth for so many years. Tomorrow the 
lights would go on again; the Pulitzer Building would not go un- 

182 



used. But never again would he walk in and out of there; never 
again would he say: "I am Barrett of the World!" 

It was easy to understand these emotions of bitterness from the 
staff. They loved this paper. 

What they did not see was that the Pulitzer family had taken the 
only way they thought possible to keep the World from going under 
entirely. Huge newspaper chains were gobbling up almost all 
family-owned papers; only a bold publisher could hope to guide an 
independent newspaper through these stormy financial days. 
Joseph, Jr. was such a man but his heart was with the Post-Dispatch 
and he was wise enough to know he could not maintain both 
papers. Only his father could have done that. 

Ralph was unquestionably a fine writer and reporter, but he was 
not an administrator. Herbert was shrewd in financial matters, but 
he had none of the bold vision, none of the newspaper experience, 
of his pioneer father. Without the guiding spirit of its founder, the 
World was doomed. The brothers decided to hold onto the Post- 
Dispatch and let the New York World go. 

It was irony that the St. Louis paper, the first Pulitzer paper- 
but the one the father had come to ignore and slight should be 
the one to carry on the Pulitzer tradition. Joseph, Jr. had inherited 
much of his father's special temperament He had quit school in 
his sophomore year; J.P. had banished him to St. Louis to "teach 
him a lesson." To everyone's surprise, the young man had been 
captured by both the city and the paper. He never wanted to 
leave it. 

And today, his sons, Joseph Pulitzer's grandsons, carry on one sf 
the finest newspapers in the United States. Still in the family, the 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch is edited and managed in the tradition of 
fearless and liberal journalism. 

And because it is still so today, we have the right to imagine that 
on some still, quiet night the tall ghost of Joseph Pulitzer comeu 
back to visit his first newspaper. Heaven would not be good and 

183 



just if the founder of the Post-Dispatch could not sometimes look 
in and see that all was well. 

A modern building, a well-run building the red beard nods ap- 
provingly. This was where Briggs once bumped the forms down the 
shaky stairs because the elevator wasn't working! The ghost would 
be sure to smile with astonishment at the new, huge presses. Even 
better than those that were once the pride of the Worldl And in the 
lobby, on the counter, he might stand to pore over the week's 
copies of the Post-Disyatch, bound so that visitors like himself 
could read them easily. 

A practiced eye might glance over the front page. Good! The pa- 
per boasted of sixty-four pages; that was a lot more than he himself 
had been able to achieve for this St. Louis paper. Price five cents 
a lot of money the World had always sold for two cents. But, then, 
everything was more expensive than in his day. The front page was 
nicely balanced between international stories, national stories and 
local news. Plenty of good pictures. The ghost might feet a little, 
turning page after page. Were the facts straight? Was the news 
fresh? He needn't worry he knows that young Joseph is a good 
newspaperman but he cannot help himself. The pages turn on 
and in those pages the ghost of Joseph Pulitzer might read a news 
story with his name in it. It might be the announcement of the 
year's Pulitzer Prize awards, those awards so eagerly sought after by 
novelists and poets and dramatists, journalists, historians and philos- 
ophers, those awards which have done so much to raise the stand- 
ards of creative writing and profound thought in America. 

Or again, a page would turn and it might be the story of college 
graduations. The tall ghost straightens proudly. Schools of Journal- 
ism everywhere! How everyone had laughed and scorned his idea 
of a School of Journalism! Even Columbia University had hesitated 
to accept his gift at first. A crackpot notion, it had been called then. 
But now the Columbia School of Journalism is an accepted, highly 
reputed school. It has turned out thousands of trained journalists for 

184 



the nation's newspapers and has been, in turn, copied by nearly 
every American college or university. Now all have their journalism 
departments. 

The pages turn on. J.P, is looking, anxiously, For the editorial 
page. Next he looks for the special writers, and finds them: three 
full pages! The names of the columnists are strange to him: Drew 
Pearson, Thomas L, Stokes, William J. Humphreys, Anthony 
Leviero, Doris Fleeson, Marguerite Higgins. Two women! And the 
lips above the red beard smile fondly, remembering the lone girl 
who first battled her way into his office and who pioneered for 
women reporters his Nellie Ely. His eye moves on to scan the edi- 
torials: social security, civil rights, mediation between steel strikers 
and employers, better schools the ghost of Joseph Pulitzer is satis- 
fied. The Post-Dispatch is still fighting on the side of the people. 

Then he sees it: the tiny box up in the left-hand corner on the 
editorial page. It reads: 

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 

Founded by Joseph Pulitzer 
December 12, 1878 

Published by 
The Pulitzer Publishing Company 

Under it is the statement he himself had written when his blind- 
ness had taken him away from actual, physical management of the 
paper. Forty-five years after his death and still printed: 

THE POST-DISPATCH PLATFORM 

I know that my retirement will make no difference in its 
cardinal principles; that it will always fight for progress and 
reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight 
demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always 
oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack 

185 



sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public 
welfare; never be satisfied with merely printing news; always 
be drastically independent; never be afraid to attack wrong, 
whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty. 

JOSEPH PULITZER 
April 10, 1907 

And as it was true then, so it is true today of the St. Louis Post- 
Dispatch. The pages close; the ghost is happy. 



186 



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Anderson, Maxwell, 159 
Arsenal Island, 49 
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Blau, Max (stepfather), 14, 18, 20, 85 
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Brachvogel, Udo, 44-45 
Briggs, Mr., 96, 100, 103-104, 110 
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Broun, Heywood, 159 
Budapest, Hungary, 11, 14, 19, 35, 46, 
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Carvalho, Mr., 150, 151 

Chapin, Charles E., 164-165 

City Hall Park, 17 

Cleveland, Grover, 137-138, 140 

Clopton, William H., 113-114 

Cobb, Frank L, 160-161, 167, 173 

Cobb, Irvin S., 159 

Cockerill, John A., 111-112, 113-114, 
116, 132, 133-136, 139-140, 145, 
147, 149-150, 151, 157, 161 

Columbia University, School of Jour- 
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Conestoga wagon, 39 

Craven, George, 171-172, 174 

Dana, Charles, 91, 125-126, 138, 146- 

149 

Danube River, 19 
Davidson, Thomas, 45-49, 50-52, 61- 

62, 71, 76, 81, 87-88, 91, 104, 112, 

125, 149-150, 174 
Davis, Colonel William, 152, 157 



Davis, WilHam Worthragton, 92 
Democratic party, 64-65, 70, 74, 84, 

120, 123, 133, 137-138, 140, 146, 

147 
Dillon, John, 97-101, 107-108, 111, 

116, 157 

Dispatch, St. Louis, 58, 80, 94-97, 99 
Dunningham, Jabez E., 169-170, 174- 

176, 180 

Engelman, Dr. George, 51 
Examiner, San Francisco, 162 

Fleeson, Doris, 185 
freedom of the press, 166 

German, 10, 12, 13, 17-19, 28, 32, 34, 

36, 42, 44, 49, 53, 76, 84 
Goddard, Merrill, 161, 163 
Gould, Jay, 123 
Grant, President, 65, 81, 120 
Greeley, Horace, 81, 125 
Gruelle, Walter, 80 

Hamburg, Germany, 10-11, 20 
Hearst, William Randolph, 162-164 
Herald, New York, 118, 123, 126-127, 

128, 129, 133, 138, 145 
Higgins, Marguerite, 185 
Howard, Roy, 182 
Humphreys, WilHam J., 185 
Hurlbert, William Henry, 124, 126- 

130, 132, 133 
Hyde, Colonel W. B., 109 

immigrants, 10-11, 34, 44, 49, 54 
Ireland, Alleyne, 170-173, 174-175, 
177, 178, 179, 180 



189 



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Jefferson City, Missouri, 69-71, 74, 77- 
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Koeppler, Arthur, 51, 72-73, 88-89, 

102, 106 
Ku Klux Klan, 143 

Lazarus, Emma, 143 

Leviero, Anthony, 185 

Lincoln, Abraham, 17, 27, 31, 54 

Lincoln Cavalry, 17-18, 20-22, 23-31, 

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lippmarm, Walter, 159 

McGuffin, Mr., 112, 133-136 
McLane, Doctor, 153 
Mackay, Sergeant, 10-11 
Mak6, Hungary, 13, 19 
Mann, Friederich, 171-172, 174, 176 
Mercantile Library, 42, 44-45, 49, 52 
Merrill, William H., 159-160 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 176 
Mitchell, Dr. S. Weir, 153, 154 
Morning Journal, 118-119, 127, 163- 
164 

New York City, 11-12, 15, 16-17, 31- 
35, 86, 117-127, 128-132, 133, 136, 
138, 140-143, 145, 146, 151, 154, 
176 

Nicoll, De Lancy, 146-147 

Panama Canal, 165-166 

Patterson, William Romaine, 171, 174 

Pearson, Drew, 185 

Philharmonic Society of New York, 

176 

Piel, Colonel, 23-24, 30 
Politzer, Albert (brother), 18-20, 34, 

85-86, 118, 123, 163 
Politzer, Irma (sister), 18 
Politzer, Mrs. Louise (mother), 11, 14, 

18-20, 29, 31, 34, 85 
Politzer, Philip (father), 14, 18-20 
Ponsonby, Claude, 151-154 
Post, St Louis, 95, 97, 98 
Post-Dispatch, St Louis, 98-116, 122, 

125, 127, 144, 150, 164, 181, 183- 

186 
Pouletzes, Joseph. See Pulitzer, Joseph 



Preetorius, Dr. Emil, 49, 52-56, 63-64, 

66, 69, 71-72, 81-83, 84 
Pulitzer, Constance (daughter), 154 
Pulitzer, Edith (daughter;, 154 
Pulitzer, Herbert (son), 170, 172, 181- 

182, 183 
Pulitzer, Joseph 

his arrival in Boston, 7-11; birth- 
place, 13; family, 14, 18-20; de- 
scription of, at 17, 15-16; at 19, 48; 
at 21, 67; at 22, 76; at 31, 89; at 
43, 155; at 63, 169-171; arrives in 
New York, 16; enlists in Union 
Army, 17, 20; childhood and youth, 
18-20; his life as a soldier, 23-31; 
looks for work, 32-34; goes to St. 
Louis, 35; works at various jobs, 40- 
41, 48-51; studies law, 45; makes 
lifelong friend, 45-48; passes law ex- 
aminations, 51; meets Carl Schurz, 
53; is hired as reporter, 57; is dis- 
liked by editor, 62, 66, 68-69; his 
story catches criminal, 63; looks for 
stories, 66-67; is considered outstand- 
ing, 67-69, 72; covers state legisla- 
ture, 70-71; makes suggestions for 
changes, 72; earns reputation, 73-74; 
grows beard, 76; is elected to state 
legislature, 74-77; exposes graft and 
corruption, 77-80; is involved in 
shooting, 79-80; is appointed a police 
commissioner, 81; campaigns for 
Horace Greeley, 81; is part owner 
of Westlicke Post, 82-83; makes 
changes, 84; sells his interest because 
of poor health, 84-85; visits family, 
85-86; moves to hotel, 87; is con- 
sidered eligible young man, 89-91; 
is delegate to Constitutional Con- 
vention, 90-91; his formula, 90-91; 
is special correspondent for Sun, 91; 
falls in love, 91; looks for opening 
in journalism, 93; marries, 94; buys 
the Dispatch, 95; merges with Post, 
98; his statement of principle, 99- 
100; introduces new kind of journal- 
ism, 101-105; continues as reformer, 
107; is bodily attacked, 108-109; 
sets killing pace, 110; is now sole 
owner, 111; his children, 112-113, 
154; moves to larger building, 113; 



190 



Pulitzer, Joseph (continued) 
misses children by being busy, 113; 
paper is attacked, 115; takes vaca- 
tion, 117; doctors advise complete 
rest, 119; buys New York World, 
126; is its editor, 127-132; approves 
new make-up, 134-136; his plat- 
form, 136-137; launches presidential 
campaign, 137-138; passes circula- 
tion of all papers, 139; is elected to 
Congress, 140; his younger daughter 
dies, 140; starts Statue of Liberty 
fund, 141-143; crusades against dis- 
crimination, 143; expands paper, 
145; is maliciously attacked, 146- 
148; is losing eyesight, 149-151; 
purchases new building site, 151; 
takes boat trip to rest nerves, 151; 
is blind in one eye, 153; must sep- 
arate himself from family and active 
life, 153-156, 158; begins life on 
yacht, 156; remains active, 158-161, 
173; battles with Hearst, 163-164; 
is sensitive to slightest noise, 168, 
175; his life on yacht, 169-175; his 
will, 176-180; dies, 180; his World 
sold, 180-183; his tradition carried 
on in Post-Dispatch, 183-186 

Pulitzer, Jr., Joseph (son), 154, 157, 
170, 181, 183 

Pulitzer, Kate Davis (wife), 91-94, 97, 
98-99, 103, 106, 108-109, 110-113, 
115-116, 117-126, 139-141, 147, 
149-151, 153-155, 169 

Pulitzer, Katherine Ethel (daughter), 
113, 118, 140 

Pulitzer, Lucille Irma (daughter), 113, 
118, 154, 177-178 

Pulitzer Prize awards, 179, 184 

Pulitzer, Ralph (son), 112-113, 118, 
140, 154, 170, 181, 183 

Ramsay, Captain, 23-27, 29-30 

Raymond, Mr., 125 

Republican party, 53, 64, 70, 74-77, 

81, 84, 120 
Rodin, 169-170 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 143, 165-167 
Roslein's Bookstore, 51, 57-61, 62-63, 

65 



St. Louis, Missouri, 34-37, 38-40, 42* 
44, 49, 51, 54, 55, 57, 60, 62, 65, 
66, 67, 70-71, 74-78, 81, 84, 85, 87- 
88, 90, 94, 95, 99, 101, 104-105, 
107, 114-115, 120, 121, 150, 181 

Schmidt, Sergeant, 17, 22 

Schurz, Carl, 49, 52-56, 62-64, 69, 71- 
72, 74, 81-83, 84 

Seitz, Don, 159 

Sheehan, Winfield R., 159 

Slayback, Colonel Alonzo W., 113 

Smith, Ballard, 145, 158 

Speer, William, 165-166 

Stallings, Laurence, 159 

Statue of Liberty, 141-143 

Stokes, Thomas L., 185 

Bun, New York, 91, 120, 123, 124, 
126-127, 138, 146-149, 162 

Swope, Herbert Bayard, 159 

Taylor, Deems, 159 
Terhune, Albert Payson, 159 
Thwaites, Norman Graham, 171-172, 

178 
Times, New York, 123-214, 126-127, 

129, 133, 138, 162, 165 
Tribune, New York, 126-127, 133, 

138, 162, 165 
Turner, George, 157 

Union Army, 10-11, 17-18, 20-31 
Vienna, Austria, 11 

Walton, Lester A., 159 
Washington, Booker T., 143 
Washington, D.C., 31, 86, 87, 91, 94, 

120, 140 
Westliche Post, 49, 54-56, 57-74, 78, 

80, 81-83, 84-85, 101, 107 
Williams, Samuel M., 160-161 
Willich, Louis, 55-58, 59, 61, 62-63, 

64, 66-70, 71, 82, 84 
Woerner, Judge J. G., 51, 72-73 
World, New York, 123, 125, 126-144, 

145-149, 151-152, 156, 157-167, 

173, 177, 179, 181, 183, 184 
World-Telegram end Sun, New YotL 

182 



191