The New York World is Pulitzer’s greatest prize.
A monument to Joseph Pulitzer the New York World unquestionably is. It is even more than that; it is really a monument to the idealism of the many men from Central Europe who came to America as to the promised land, so joyous at having turned their backs upon the falsities, the hypocrisies, the military autocracies of the Continent that they brought to America a devotion quite unsurpassed by any native born. Theirs was a far keener appreciation of the true principles of a democratic society and of the fundamentals of American idealism than is held by nine-tenths of the college graduates of today who claim admittance to the Sons of the Revolution. True, Mr. Pulitzer was not like three others who left their mark upon American journalism–Carl Schurz, Oswald Ottendorfer, and Henry Villard–a product of the Revolution of 1848. He belonged to a later generation of immigrants and did not cross the ocean as a result of that idealistic uprising which would have liberalized Germany and spared the world its greatest agony had it succeeded. But the fact is nevertheless that New York owes what is today perhaps its most liberal English-language daily to a simple Jewish-Hungarian immigrant of humblest origin, who came to this country friendless and unknown with so little money it is a question whether he would not have been excluded had the laws been what they are today. If men like Congressman Johnson, who are now so bent on excluding all aliens from America in pursuit of the narrow, selfish, nationalistic dogma of “America for those who are already here,” could ever be brought to measure the contributions of some of the thousands who came penniless to these shores in foul-smelling steerage quarters, they would surely he shamed into something different. They would at least have to concede that the morning World is today one of the few remaining assets in the field of journalism in which Americans with ideals can take pride.
Yet it does not begin to approximate what it ought to and so easily could be-the Manchester Guardian of America. For this is responsible the fact that the World is and always has been a creature of compromise. Nothing could be finer than the vision of its purpose Joseph Pulitzer published when he purchased it in 1883, which it now daily carries under its “mast-head” on the editorial page:
An institution that should 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 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.
His platform, dubbed radical, demagogic, socialistic, and altogether upsetting (in the lack then of the easy epithet of “bolshevist”), called for the taxation of luxuries, inheritances, large incomes, monopolies, all the special privileges of corporations, as well as a tariff for revenue only, and the reform of the civil service-most of the taxation proposals are now law.