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Kentucky Vindicator (Owensboro, Kentucky)
The Kentucky Vindicator was established in 1899 and published in Owensboro by W.M. Likins, O.C. Likins, and J. Karl Taylor. The paper reported on the Prohibition Party's efforts to rid Kentucky and the nation of the scourge of alcohol. The Vindicator's unequivocal position on strong drink is evident in its masthead declarations--"The saloon must go" and "The liquor traffic cannot be licensed without sin." However, its content also suggests the challenges the Party faced from other temperance groups, most notably the Anti-Saloon League. The Kentucky Vindicator survives as a single, four-page issue, dated June 26, 1901.
The Prohibition Party, established in 1869, was convinced that neither major party would ever eschew the benefits derived from collusion with liquor interests by prohibiting the sale, manufacture, and consumption of beverage alcohol. After disappointing returns in the election of 1892, the long-standing division between those members who welcomed collaboration with other groups and who advocated more comprehensive and radical reform ("Broad Gauge") and the others who insisted on the exclusivity of prohibition as the Party's object ("Narrow Gauge") turned into open conflict. The Narrow Gauge faction effectively captured the Party in 1896, even as its leadership almost immediately was forced to compromise its position in order to remain politically relevant. Such efforts were most closely linked to the person of John G. Woolley (1850-1922), lawyer, orator, and the Prohibition Party's 1900 presidential candidate. Woolley appears briefly in the Kentucky Vindicator's pages.
The singular focus of the Vindicator's content suggests that editor W.M. Likins was a Narrow Gauge man. But the issues addressed and developments reported in the Kentucky Vindicator mirror those found in other Prohibition Party newspapers of the day, including The New Voice in New York City, which served as Woolley's personal platform. The Vindicator reported on party conventions in various Kentucky counties and carried reports from "evangelists," a state-level organizing innovation pioneered by Indiana prohibitionists in 1899. The paper encouraged the faithful to attend the party's national conference in Buffalo, New York. A long editorial in support of exercising the option to prohibit the sale of alcohol locally reflects the spirit of moderation and compromise that Woolley and others in the Prohibition Party advocated in their ongoing flirtation with the once reviled Anti-Saloon League. There is relatively little advertising in the Kentucky Vindicator's pages, but a small ad for the patent medicine known as Hall's Catarrh Cure does appear. The Vindicator's editor was apparently unaware, or unconcerned, that many patent medicines contained a substantial measure of alcohol or other addictive substances.
The Kentucky Vindicator was apparently short-lived, for no mention of it has been found in contemporary sources after 1901.
Provided by: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY