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Herst And The Spanish American War

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How far is a person willing to go to be the best? Will he sacrifice friends, family, even the lives of his countrymen? What makes someone that devoted to competition that they are willing to destroy everything that they've ever known, and quite possibly start a war in the process all to see that they've outsold there competition? These are the questions one must ask once you learn of the life's story of William Randolph Hearst. From his news empire that included over 2 dozen major newspapers in 15 cities (Swanberg) to his more then slightly warped sense of moral propriety, Hearst's life led him into the position where he escalated an international dispute into a war with one of Europe's colonial powers.

William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863, in San Francisco, California, to George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. George Hearst was a self-made multimillionaire miner and rancher who spent much of his young life in Franklin County, Missouri in the 1820's. Growing up he received very little in the way of formal education but he did learn a lot about the so-called "lay of the land," particularly in regards to mining. In fact, legend has it that local Indians referred to him as the "boy that the earth talk to." (Loe)

The Senior Hearst quickly made himself wealthy through his investment in mining operations in the United States. Doing all of the research into these sites himself he owned some of the largest claims in the nation, "including the Comstock Lode in Nevada, the Ontario silver mine in Utah, the Homestake gold mine in South Dakota and the Anaconda copper mine in Montana" (Loe). The Comstock, Homestake and Anaconda claims would become three of the largest mining discoveries in American history. (Swanberg)

This sudden success story was an inspiration to his son and his overbearing mother constantly told William of his father's great successes. It was Williams Mother who became the fiery driving force in the young man's life, constantly pressuring him to succeed and be better then all others. While George Hearst was running about the American West securing mine space, land grants, and buying hundreds of acres of grazing lands for what would be his second empire, cattle, Phoebe was prepping her son for a life of wealth and privilege. In 1873 she organized a European tour to educate him in all of the "refined arts"(Nasaw). This "Grand Tour" took over a year; during which time Phoebe took her son to visit castles, museums and various cultural centers. This trip would prove to be a pivotal inspiration for William's later endeavor constructing his fabulous Hearst Castle, the seat of his national empire. (Loe)

Young Hearst showed the vicious ambition that his mother had instilled in his formative years followed him into St. Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire, an exclusive school that his mother had picked for him, and finally into Harvard College where the young Hearst found what would become the passion of his life- publishing. (Nasaw)

William was a very popular young man at Harvard. The excessive allowance sent by his mother each month allowed him to wine and dine his friends and to keep many young, working class women on his arm. He was a member of the "Hasty Pudding" acting society and later became the business manager of the Harvard Lampoon. His financial stewardship of the group was brilliant and in a move that would signal the beginning of his life in publishing, he increased circulation and business advertising well over 300% (Nasaw).

Although he was expelled from Harvard for poor grades his life did not stop. During his time at the Lampoon, his father found himself in possession of a Newspaper, The San Francisco Examiner, which he won at a card game. When William learned of this he begged his father to allow him to run the paper, insisting he could make it profitable and powerful. It would become his chance to match his father's successes and make his mother proud. (INSERT HERE)

He went to New York to study the Theater, The New York Press, ruled over by Hearst's idol and future rival Joseph Pulitzer, and a verity of young actresses. Young Hearst was fascinated with the work of Pulitzer and his two-penny paper, seeing it's sensational investigative journalistic ideals, cheap production cost, and mass-appeal tactics as inspiration for a winning business plan.

When he returned to California, his father was running as a Democrat for the Governorship of the state of California and wanted his son to come in and take over the family business while he was running the state. While George had hoped William would manage all of the mining and ranching holdings that he had amassed, his only son wanted to become the proprietor of the Examiner and an elderly George Hearst relented and relinquished control of the paper to him. (Miller)

His son used is family to get the money to completely modernize the paper, picking up a first class staff of writers (mostly by hiring them out from under other papers noses, a strategy he would use his whole life) and starting one of the most sensational editorial boards in the city. Hearst appealed to the working class of the city by being staunchly Anti-Railroad companies and unwaveringly Pro-Unions. When remarking on this strategy later Hearst would remark that he was "Giving the people what they wanted and being paid for it" (Nasaw)

Although his father's run at the governor's mansion was a failure, his son's paper was quickly becoming a success. Finally gaining a little of his parents approval for his work on the paper. He quickly turned the paper into the #1 paper in the city by making every news story a sensational one. His competitors tried to keep up but soon Hearst was undoubtedly the king of the San Francisco media market. By 1890 Hearst was ready to take on his old idol and the inspiration for his success, Joseph Pulitzer.

I wasn't until 1895 that Hearst actually entered the market for the media in New York by purchasing the failing New York Journal and proceeded to go head to head with the unimpeachable lord of the newspaper, Joseph Pulitzer. Hearst started his little war with Pulitzer by doing exactly what he did in San Francisco, he lured all of Pulitzers top writers to joining his staff taking every last one of Pulitzer's top writers by promising them huge salaries and multi-year contracts, something Pulitzer refused to do (Milton).

Hearst started putting either high society or gruesome crimes on the front page of every paper he sold. Stories about the decedent lives of the Manhattan Social Elite and stories of beating, drowning and vicious double murders were what sold papers Hearst had learned as the head of the San Francisco examiner and



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