Muckraking Journalist & Author David Graham Phillips is Shot - 1911

Jan 23, 2013 - by - 0 Comments

Phillips

David Graham Phillips

by Michael Thomas Barry

On January 23, 1911, muckraking journalist and novelist David Graham Phillips is shot outside the Princeton Club at Gramercy Park in New York City. The shooter Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough was a Harvard educated musician, a violinist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra who came from a prominent Maryland family.

David Phillips was born in 1867 in Madison, Indiana. He graduated from Princeton in 1887. After completing his education, Phillips worked as a newspaper reporter in Cincinnati, Ohio, before moving on to New York City where he was employed as a reporter for The Sun from 1890 to 1893, then columnist and editor with the New York World until 1902. In his spare time, he wrote a novel, The Great God Success, which was published in 1901. The royalty income enabled him to work as a freelance journalist while continuing to write fiction. Writing articles for various prominent magazines, he began to develop a reputation as a competent investigative journalist. Phillips' novels often commented on social issues of the day and frequently chronicled events based on his real-life journalistic experiences. He was considered a Progressive and a muckraker. Philips was known for producing one of the most important investigations exposing details of the corruption by big businesses, in particular, by the Standard Oil Company. He was among a few other writers during that time that helped prompt President Theodore Roosevelt to use the term “Muckrakers.” 

Goldsborough believed that Phillips' novel The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig had cast literary aspersions on his family. Thus on the morning of January 23, 1911, Phillips was confronted by Goldsborough near the entrance to the Princeton Club. Goldsborough yelled, "Here you go!" and fired six shots from a .32 caliber pistol point blank into Phillips. After Phillips collapsed, Goldsborough yelled something akin to "And here I go!” Then shot himself in the head. Admitted to Bellevue Hospital, Phillips would die the next day. Following Phillips' death, his sister Carolyn organized his final manuscript for posthumous publication as Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise. In 1931, that book would be made into an MGM motion picture of the same name and starring Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. 

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