Arkansas Banner

In 1843, Democrats in Little Rock (Pulaski County) sought a new newspaper, as the Arkansas State Gazette (1836–1850) had shifted its affiliation from Democratic to Whig after an ownership change. The Arkansas Banner was founded by Archibald Yell in 1843 to be the voice of the Democrats, under the publishing name of the Democratic Central Committee of the State of Arkansas. Solon Borland worked as editor with Elbert Hartwell English, who was also his associate at their joint law firm. Borland had writing experience from working at several newspapers in Memphis, Tennessee. The Banner soon changed publisher names to Borland & Farley, with Borland still working as editor.

Borland quickly began writing pointed articles about the Gazette editor, Benjamin John Borden. These jabs led to physical fights and finally a pistol duel between the two. Borland won the duel by shooting Borden. Since Borland was a medical doctor, he proceeded to patch Borden’s gunshot wound. This led to a great friendship between the two.

Borland worked at the Banner until the start of the Mexican War in 1845, at which time he was elected major of the Arkansas Mounted Infantry Regiment and left for Mexico. Archibald Hamilton Rutherford took charge of the Banner next, and he ran it until 1846. Since the Banner was the voice of the Democrats, Rutherford was carefully chosen by the Democratic Party to run the paper. He had been a county judge in Clark County and clerk of the circuit court. Later he was elected to the Arkansas General Assembly for several terms and appointed deputy clerk of the United States court at Little Rock.

After Rutherford left in 1846, Lambert Jeffrey Reardon took over. He hired Lambert A. Whitely as junior editor. Reardon and Whitely were also involved in editorial and physical fights over personal insults with other newspaper editors. During one physical fight, Borland happened to be passing by and joined in to prevent Reardon from firing at his opponent. Borland likely did not want that fight to escalate into shooting as his own newspaper duel had.

Whitely eventually took control of the Banner, and in 1851 he added “Democratic” to the masthead, creating the Arkansas Democratic Banner. The next year, he sold the paper, and the name changed to The True Democrat (1852–1857) under publishers Richard Henry Johnson and Reuben S. Yerkes.

For additional information:
Allsopp, Frederick W. History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More. Little Rock: Parke-Harper Publishing Co., 1922.

Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.

Dougan, Michael B. Community Diaries: Arkansas Newspapering, 1819–2002. Little Rock: August House, 2003.

Staff of the Arkansas Digital Newspaper Project
Arkansas State Archives

A version of this entry was initially published on both the website of the Arkansas State Archives and the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America project and is used here with permission.



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