William Randolph Hearst: The Early Years, 1863-1910

By Ben Procter | Go to book overview

10
"Uncrowned Mayor of New York"

In July, 1904, William Randolph Hearst returned to New York City after an exhaustive presidential campaign that had ended in defeat. But, as James Creelman recognized, he was now "not a force in prospect, but a force in being." Or putting it another way, Lincoln Steffens observed that Hearst had the capabilities of "arousing in some people dread, in others hope, but compelling in all an interest which of itself is significant." And no wonder! At his command and dictation was a journalistic empire of eight newspapers in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco that influenced and entertained more than two million readers. Already he was gearing up to enter the magazine arena with the publication of Motor; and, within a year, he would acquire Cosmopolitan. Other than President Roosevelt, he was arguably the best-known American, not just in the United States but in the world.

In fact, his image was beginning to take on mythical proportions. Here was a multimillionaire who was not only born to wealth but who had also created it, yet a man who embraced the Jeffersonian philosophy of "equal rights for all and privileges for none." He was unquestionably the enemy of corporate greed, of arrogant wealth, of his social set, those who would use this "democracy" for their own selfish ends. For instance, in New York City since 1898, the American and Evening Journal had viciously attacked the ice and coal and meat-packing trusts for their mendacious avarice and their unsympathetic feelings for the poor and downtrodden, for those nameless millions who were struggling to realize the fulfillment of the "American Dream." As a consequence, historian Louis Filler wrote that Hearst, through his newspapers, "more than any other man, was the absolute expression of all the blind need and ignorance and resentment which troubled the worker and farmer." His pulse was theirs; therefore, he fol

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