Joseph Pulitzer

Rare Autograph! Joseph Pulitzer pays a $400 dividend to John A. Cockerill, editor of the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” – endorsed by Cockerill

Partly Printed Check Signed “Joseph Pulitzer” in red ink, 8” x 3”. Office of the Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, May 27, 1892. Filled out in another hand to John A. Cockerill Esq. “dividend” penned in red in unknown hand. Pictorial logo at left. Endorsed “John A. Cockerill” on verso. Folds. Fine condition.

John A. Cockerill (1845-1896) became editor of the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” in 1878. In October 1882, at a political rally, lawyer Alonzo Slayback, whose partner was running for Congress, had called the paper “blackmailers.” In the “Post-Dispatch,” Cockerill called Slayback a “coward.” On October 13, 1882, less than five months after endorsing this check, Slayback went to Cockerill’s office and, after a short conversation, pulled a gun from his pocket and aimed it at Cockerill who grabbed his pistol and fired, killing Slayback. Cockerill was tried for murder. Newspapers took sides. The jury’s verdict was “justifiable homicide committed in self-defense.” After the trial, the “Post-Dispatch” saw a drop in circulation and number of advertisers. Pulitzer reassigned Cockerill to be editor of his newly acquired “New York World.”

Joseph Pulitzer’s eyes began to fail in the 1880s and by the end of the decade, at age 42, he was virtually blind. Autograph material authentically signed by Pulitzer has rarely appeared on the market. In fact, before this item became available, only one Joseph Pulitzer signed document or letter had appeared at a major public auction in at least the last 25 years.

Item: 56145

Price: $1,275.00
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Joseph Pulitzer
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