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The Broad Ax and the Plain Dealer Kept Utah's African Americans Informed
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In 1895 Utahns Wondered When Statehood Would Come
A State is Born
Party Politics and Utah Statehood
The Constitutional Convention is Called
Constitution Was Framed in City and County Building
African American Community and Politics, 1890-1910
The Broad Ax and the Plain Dealer Kept Utah's African Americans Informed
Clarence E. Allen Was Utah's First Congressman
How Utah Lost One of Its U.S. Senate Seats in 1899
Salt Lake Native Was Interred in the Kremlin Wall
The Shooting of Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator From Utah
Convict Labor Helped to Build Utah's Road
Strawberry Valley, 1st Federal Reclamation Project
Women's Suffrage in Utah
Woman Suffrage Dominated Politics in Utah
Kanab Residents Chose Women to Run Their Town, 1912
Ruth May Fox, Forgotten Suffragist
Soren Hanson's "House That Eggs Built"
Utah Arts Council
Utah State Historical Society
The Beginning of Public Support For Libraries
The Pasta King of the Mountain West
Celebrating the New Year in Salt Lake's Chinatown
Electrifying Utah-Engineer Lucien L. Nunn
A Brewer-Sportsman's Prairie Style Home in Ogden
Saltair
Saltair Village Was a Unique Place to Live
Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair
Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Many Visitors
Minstrel Shows
Utah State Capitol
Utah in the Spanish American War
Captain Richard W. Young and Spanish-American War
A Soldier's Life at Fort Douglas in the Early 1900's
Methodist Women Missionaries Worked Hard in Utah
Flour Mills
Guano Sifters on Gunnison Island
The Lehi Beet Sugar Factory
The Salt Industry Was One of the First Enterprises
From Free Salt to a Major Industry
Hospitals and Health Crazes in the Late 1800's
The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy
Would the New State of Utah Go Metric?
A Look at Working Women in the Early 20th Century
Jobs in 1900
Explosion of Pleasant Valley Coal Company
The Lucin Cutoff
Southern Utah's First High School
Life Was Precarious in Turn-of-the-Century Utah
Salt Lake City Had Its Typhoid Mary
Vaccinations in Wasatch County
Promoting Physical Fitness
Woman's Home Association Tried to Help the "Fallen"
Juvenile Delinquency Posed Problems For Utahns
Traveling Gypsies Brought an Exotic Lifestyle to Utah
The First Large Factory in Utah
The Rise and Fall of Ogden's Packing Industry
Newsboys Claimed Their Street Corners in Downtown
The Bamberger Electric Railway
The First Cars in Two Small Towns
A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert
Daredevils of the Sky-Early Aeronauts in Utah
Ogden Defeats Salt Lake City in a War of the Wheels
Utah's Immigrants at the Turn of the Century
Boys' Potato Growing Clubs
Joe Hill and the I.W.W.
Socialist Women and Joe Hill
A Bit of Polynesia Remains
Justice Zane and Antipolygamy
The Salt Lake Valley Smelter War

Jeffrey D. Nichols

Although the 1890 census reported only 588 African Americans living in Utah—a figure that would almost double by 1910—Salt Lake City supported two black newspapers for several years during that time. Julius F. Taylor, born in Virginia but most recently from Fargo, North Dakota, edited and published the Broad Ax, a weekly newspaper, from August 1895 until June 1899 before moving with his family and newspaper to Chicago. William W. Taylor (no relation) edited the Utah Plain Dealer for at least 12 years and was active in politics and fraternal organizations.

The two men were political and journalistic rivals. Julius was an ardent Democrat, an unusual affiliation at a time when most African Americans were still Republicans and many Democrats were open advocates of white supremacy. Julius argued that the Republicans had betrayed his race's trust since Emancipation and that the Democratic party was the race's best hope. The Broad Ax announced that it was "advocating the immortal principles of Jefferson and Jackson; it will stand for the HONEST SILVER dollar of our forefathers, to be coined free . . . we will also strive to aid and advance the cause of the working man. . . . This paper will also contend for the liberation of the minds of the colored people from political slavery . . . ."

William Taylor was a Republican and served as the city's deputy dog tax collector before running for the state legislature in 1896. Julius attacked William from the Broad Ax's first issue; he called William's paper the Double Dealer and pronounced him unqualified for office and not a true representative of the colored people. The Salt Lake Herald, a Democratic paper, printed several editorial cartoons featuring racially stereotyped caricatures of William. Since only one issue of the Plain Dealer is known to have survived (in LDS Church Archives), William's views, including his opinion of Julius and his reaction to the attacks against him, are unknown. William's candidacy was unsuccessful, but he continued to be a prominent figure in the African-American community, publishing his newspaper and serving as president of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, a black fraternal organization. William's widow, Lizzie, continued to publish the Plain Dealer for a short while after his death.

Julius Taylor's active and outspoken editorial voice struck at his other rivals as well. He apparently had a running feud with Salt Lake Tribune editor C. C. Goodwin, calling him, among other things, a "pale-faced two-legged dung-hill rooster" who was the editor of a "well-known negro-hating sheet." Julius was a tireless advocate for his race, attacking the popular "cake walks" and "coon songs" that he felt degraded African Americans. He frequently expressed his disgust over the treatment of blacks in Salt Lake City and in the nation as a whole. His reasons for leaving Utah are not clear; Julius had briefly resided in Chicago, and that city's larger black population may have provided a more comfortable and supportive atmosphere for him.

Unlikely as it may seem, the two Taylors had other black rivals in the newspaper business: J. Gordon McPherson’s “Headlight,” S. P. Chambers’s “Western Recorder,” J. W. Washington’s “Tri-City Oracle,” and W. P. Hough’s “Town Talk” all appeared between 1890 and 1910.  

The editors of Utah's black newspapers participated in professional journalistic organizations. Both Taylors were members of the Utah Press Association, and Julius served as historian of the organization before moving to Chicago. These black publishers also took an active part in the Western Negro Press Association. They presented papers at meetings, served as officers, and hosted the WNPA's fifth annual meeting in Salt Lake City in 1900. In 1899 William Taylor was elected president of the WNPA, and when the organization's 1900 convention was held in Salt Lake City, black residents hosted receptions for the participants and took their guests on tours of the city.

The two Taylors represent the active world of the small but vibrant black community in Salt Lake City.  Although they made little headway in achieving better treatment for African Americans (nor in their quest for their own offices), they insisted upon full participation in public life.  Their differences demonstrate that black voters were far from a monolithic block.  Rather, they argued about which party better served the interests of their race, as well as many of the same issues that divided white voters.      

Sources: Broad Ax, 1895-1901; Ronald G. Coleman "A History of Blacks in Utah, 1825-1910" (Ph.D. diss., University of Utah, 1980).

 

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