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George Hearst, William’s father was born in 1820 on a frontier plantation in Franklin, Missouri. George’s father died when he was 26. George was a very hard worker and loved his family very much. He worked odd jobs and in mines to pay off his fathers debt and to take care of his mother, sister and little brother. Mining fascinated young George and even though he could barely read he dwelled into geology books to learn more.
In 1848 word started to spread like wildfire about Sutter’s mill and the very precious metal that was found nearby. In 1849 George, now in his early thirties, and fifteen other anxious miners packed up their things and made the long trek towards California via the California-Oregon trail. This trek was more than 2,000 miles and took them more than 6 months in a wagon train. George became very ill not long after departing Missouri with cholera. A lesser, undetermined man would have died. George was bound and determined to start his new life with a huge fortune. George was very unsuccessful for nine whole years until he joined some friends and they all went in on the Comstock Lode. This cost them 450 dollars between them and made all of them extremely wealthy. By now George was a seasoned miner and by “reputation had a uncanny sixth sense about mines—some miners and prospectors called him the best judge of a mine in the country(p.14 W.R.H). Everything was going so well for George until he heard his mother was ill and was needed back home. George headed back home to Missouri at the age of forty. While tending to his family he met a young woman named Phoebe Apperson. She was only eighteen years old. They married in 1862 just after the civil war broke out. George and Phoebe made their way back to California by way of boat through the Panama Canal and on April 29, 1863 they gave birth to William Randolph Hearst. Williams’s mother was very loving and attentive. She never left his side. George, willies father, was not. He was very preoccupied with his mining interest and his new business adventures. He owned property all over the western states and was a senator too. Meanwhile, when Williams mother wasn’t taking care of him at home in California, they were traveling the world. Phoebe loved to see Europe.
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As a young man of 19 William enrolled at Harvard. He was still a trouble maker. In between his ridiculous pranks and parties he got involved with the school paper, The Harvard Lampoon. This was great for William because it allowed him to vent all his energy into a humorous magazine publication. Eventually he ran the whole paper with many of his colleagues working under him and even funded much of the cost the paper required to keep it printing. But this didn’t last long as Williams pranks and parties got him suspended multiple times and finally expelled then expunged from Harvard. As far as Harvard is concerned, William Hearst never exited. William took with him the invaluable experience of running the Lampoon and headed west in hopes of running the San Francisco Examiner, the paper his father owned. By the time Willie returned home his father was considering taking a job in the Washington. This required George to spend most of his time in Washington D.C... George did not want to sell the paper to his son, but William begged and begged until his father gave in. This was only the beginning to the most influential journalist in history that’s empire is still standing. Hence, William Randolph Hearst the “Modern Media Tycoon” (p.1 W.R.H) was born.
William hired many of his friends that worked with him on the Lampoon and wrote about things from all sides of the spectrum. Some stories in the Examiner would bring tears to your eyes while others were written to have you rolling on the floor with laughter. “By the end of Williams first year of ownership, he had more than doubled the circulation of his paper” (p.40 W.R.H). After the death of Williams father and the large inheritance left to Williams mother William wanted to buy another paper; The New York Morning Journal. Soon after his success of his first couple of papers he bought, Hearst met a beautiful 16 year old dancer on Broadway named Millicent. He courted her for a year before marrying her and eventually having five sons, the first of which was born April 10, 1904. Hearst loved his boys very much, but he and Millicent began falling out of love. Hearst loved the Theatre and met an 18 year old named Marion Davies that caught his eye. Hearst was more than 40 years old when he met Marion! Hearst wanted to make her into a movie star. Even though she never made it big they were together for more than 30 years up to Williams’s death. Hearst went on to buy many more newspapers and magazines. His main focus or interest, beside journalism, was politics. This was unusual for such a quiet and shy man, but he made sure his papers always highlighted how crooked many of the politicians running the county were at the time especially the monopolistic railroads and delegates from Tammany Hall. Hearst’s’ political career was most certainly not a success. Although Hearst loved to dish out criticism and inform the people of corruption of the government, William himself was not good at taking criticism. Many have said that one of Hearst’s faults was that “if the truth stood if front of what he wanted, he would lie” (p.123)
Today, “The Hearst Publishing Company is stronger than ever. It is the country’s biggest publisher of monthly magazines, with a net worth estimated at about 3.5 billion. I really do believe William Hearst was a good man. He made some unfortunate choices that most certainly damaged his appearance to the public but overall “Hearst was the man who changed the rules of American Journalism”(P.122) “One thing is for sure: William Randolph Hearst, whether he was good or evil, great or petty, did leave his mark on history”(P.123).