Sunday, April 10, 2011

Joseph Pulitzer (April 10, 1847)

Joseph Pulitzer was born in Hungary. His father was a Hungarian grain merchant of Magyar-Jewish origin, and his mother was a German Roman Catholic. As a young man, he volunteered with a recruiter in Germany to go to the US and fight for the Union in the Civil War. Eventually he became the owner of a German-language newspaper in St. Louis, which had a large German community. By 1878, he had mastered the English language, American journalism, and had become owner of the St.Louis Post-Dispatch. Ultimately he also owned newspapers in New York and founded the Pulitzer Prizes.

When I was growing up in St.Louis, we still had a sense of civic pride in living in a city with such an excellent newspaper – I think it still has an outstanding reputation. So Pulitzer, though his family long since had abandoned any Jewish identity, had a sort of heroic status for us. A full biography is here.

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