The Broad Ax began as a weekly publication founded, published and edited by former Virginia slave Julius F. Taylor. The newspaper began in Salt Lake City in 1895 but disputes with the Latter-Day Saints led Taylor to move his publication to Chicago in 1899, where he continued his focus on being "Democratic in politics, advocating the immortal principles of Jefferson and Jackson" and his motto to "hew to the line." Taylor's focus was on racial equality, religious tolerance and support for Free Silver/William Jennings Bryan. It was described by historian Juliet E. K. Walker as "the most controversial black newspaper in Chicago in the late nineteenth century." In 1912, Taylor helped create the Colored Press Association of Chicago, whose purpose was to strengthen the mission of the black press in Chicago by establishing a local news gathering bureau, to highlight issues of particular interest to African Americans, and, more specifically, to endorse an African American candidate for county commissioner. The Broad Ax was published by Taylor until his health declined in 1931 and he could no longer continue.