The Seattle Republican

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The Seattle Republican
Dates of publication
Available online
23 February 1900 - 2 May 1913 (689 issues)
Republican Pub. Co.
Place of publication
Seattle, Wash.
Ceased in 1915?
Usage rights
No Copyright
African Americans - Washington (State) - Seattle - Newspapers.
African Americans.
King County (Wash.) - Newspapers.
Seattle (Wash.) - Newspapers.
Washington (State) - King County.
Washington (State) - Seattle.

The Seattle Republican was Seattle's first truly successful African American newspaper. Out of seven black newspapers to appear in the city between 1891 and 1901, it alone survived into the early 20th century. First issued on May 19, 1894, and continuing until 1913, the weekly paper was initially called simply the Republican. A short-lived daily version (the Daily Republican) appeared in February-March 1896. The paper represented the political views of the Republican Party, but not without critical scrutiny by its publisher and editor Horace Cayton, Sr. The Seattle Republican aimed for both a national and a biracial audience, reporting on events well beyond the borders of Washington State. It covered national political news in some depth, and is a particularly rich source of information on conditions of African Americans all around the country, particularly in the South. But its primary focus was on local party politics and Seattle's African American community. Born into slavery in 1859, the college-educated Cayton made the Republican a strong and respected voice in the rapidly growing city. Assisted by his wife Susie Revels (herself a published author), Cayton encouraged African Americans to migrate west where opportunity was not crushed by prejudice, or at least not openly denied. Employment was the big issue in the Pacific Northwest, not race relations. Cayton always credited white citizens who treated blacks fairly and did not hesitate to criticize African Americans who failed to live up to his standards. The paper supported the New Negro Movement. Cayton himself worked closely with the Republican Party, promoting its political agenda. The paper also covered the problems of corruption and crime, although Cayton’s honest reporting occasionally alienated powerful citizens. Arrest, lawsuits, and other ploys were used against Cayton, but the general public usually rallied to his cause. Though racially mixed, the readership of the Republican remained modest, probably never exceeding about two thousand subscribers. Cayton’s close relationship with James D. Hoge, Jr., who had a controlling interest in the daily Seattle Post Intelligencer helped the Republican secure a contract to publish the city charter.

The Seattle Republican was the only West Coast paper regularly receiving cable and telegraphic news reports from the New York press. Columns such as “Political Pot Pie" analyzed local politics, while the "Afro American" and "Brother in Black" focused on national events and "Realm of Religion" commented on church matters. The paper also reported on Seattle’s Jewish community and took up the cause of Japanese immigrants in California. The theater and musical events were also covered. As time went on, the Seattle Republican faced mounting difficulties, culminating with the end of publication in 1913. Cayton went on to edit several other newspapers (Cayton's Weekly and Cayton's Monthly), as well as Cayton's Yearbook, but he never regained the prominence he had once enjoyed. Cayton died in 1940, leaving behind a record of his unique and significant contributions to the development of a city and its minority population.