William Randolph Hearst and the Spanish American War
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...