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Richmond Climax and the Climax
The Richmond Climax, a weekly newspaper published by the Climax Publishing Company, covered the town of Richmond and Madison County for nearly 30 years. The paper was established by William G. White and French Tipton in 1887 to serve as a vessel for the Democratic Party in Richmond. Despite being in constant competition with Richmond's other Democratic newspaper, the Kentucky Register, the then four-page Climax was well received and by 1910 regularly printed eight pages per issue.
Politics played an important role in the development of the Climax. Founding editor Tipton, a Richmond lawyer and politician, was initially a staunch supporter of the paper's Democratic mission. However, during the campaign for the 1896 presidential election, Tipton, who disagreed with William Jennings Bryan's Free Silver platform, changed political parties and left the paper. He then became editor of Richmond's Republican newspaper, the Pantagraph.
Richmond politician Clarence E. Woods, editor of the Climax at the turn of the century, continued the paper’s tradition of radical leadership. In 1900, the local press was involved in a debate regarding ownership of the Richmond Water and Light Company. Woods, a loyal Progressive, argued with both the Kentucky Register and the Pantagraph in favor of local ownership and declared that the Water Company was in violation of its contract with the city. After months of heated editorial debate, Woods’ commentary became so flagrant that the Climax's owner, Judge John C. Chenault, asked him to resign. A few days later, tensions were still high, causing an altercation between Woods and Pantagraph editor Tipton. After being assaulted on a Richmond street, Woods shot Tipton in self-defense. The founder of the Climax died within days. The quarrel between newspapermen did little to stifle Woods’ professional career. After the incident, Woods continued to write for the Climax and in 1905 was elected mayor of Richmond.
Although the Climax and its editors primarily functioned as an organ for the Democratic Party, the paper never failed to provide the citizens of Richmond with a wide range of news items. The Climax carried an assortment of notes from around the state and the country, as well as agricultural market reports and Madison County happenings. In 1910, the Climax honored Richmond with "A Brief Historical Sketch of the city of Richmond, Kentucky," a 17-page supplement covering the town’s industrial, social, and political history.
Other editors of the Climax included John Cabell Chenault, A.D. Miller, R. Lee Davis, Robert S. Crowe; Louis Landram, Steve K. Vaught, B.D. Gordon, E.C Walton, and William P. Walton. Miller was at the helm of the paper when in September 1914, the Richmond Climax was purchased by founding editor William G. White and consolidated with his newspaper, the Madisonian.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY