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Horace Cayton Sr.
On this date, we celebrate the birth in 1859 of Horace Cayton, a Black slave who became publisher of the Seattle Republican newspaper.
Born on a Mississippi plantation, his family moved to a farm near Port Gibson, MS, after Emancipation. Cayton worked his way through Alcorn College in Mississippi, graduating in the early 1880s. He then headed west, stopping briefly in Kansas, Salt Lake City, and Portland before finally ending up in Seattle, where he began working for the soon-defunct Populist newspaper. Later he worked as a political reporter for the Seattle Post-
Cayton worked at the Seattle Standard, founded in 1892, the city’s first Black newspaper. In 1893, it closed, and Cayton issued the first edition of the Seattle Republican on May 19, 1894.
In 1896, he married Susie Revels, the daughter of Hiram Revels, the first Black senator in America, who also became associate editor of the paper. The paper was political, with news of national, state, and local politics in each issue. It published Cayton’s own Republican opinions.
In Seattle, between 1900 and 1910, the number of Blacks had risen from 406 to 2,300, and white prejudice grew. Pride in his race was evidenced in coverage of local Black success stories and activities in the Black community. Cayton was a frequent delegate to the county and state nominating conventions, secretary of the party’s King County convention in 1902, and for several years a member of the Republican State Central Committee.
Cayton lost political power and he became the victim of Seattle’s changing racial and political pattern. In 1917, the Seattle Republican folded, three months after Cayton published an article about a Southern lynching. Subscriptions were canceled and advertisements were dropped.
He continued to pursue a career in publishing, and issued Cayton’s Weekly from 1916 until 1921, but was unable to make it economically. He lost his home and moved to a small house near Mt. Baker Park. In addition, Cayton purchased a three-story wood-framed apartment house to manage, and Mrs. Cayton found employment as a housekeeper. They were active in the growing Black community, participating in social and civic events.
He continued his affiliation with the Republican Party through membership in the King County Colored Republican Club. Horace Cayton died on August 16, 1940, and Susie Revels Cayton died in 1943.
Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and
African American Experience
Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.