Taylor was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in August 1857, to Amanda Hines, a free African American woman. Taylor later reported that his father was Nathan Taylor, a slave. Hines was forced to leave Arkansas in 1859 as a consequence of a new law that required all free African Americans to leave the state by January 1, 1860, or be sold as slaves. Hines died in Alton, Illinois, in 1861 or 1862, and young George was forced to live in “dry goods boxes” and fend for himself until 1865 when he arrived in La Crosse, Wisconsin, aboard the “Hawkeye State,” a side-paddle vessel operating on the upper Mississippi River. Taylor lived in La Crosse only one or two years, after which he was “bound out” to Nathan Smith of rural West Salem where he lived until he reached the age of 20 years. He attended Wayland University in Beaver Dam from 1877 to 1879, after which he settled in La Crosse and in the employ of Marcus “Brick” Pomeroy, editor of Pomeroy’s Democrat. From 1880 to 1885, Taylor wrote for several local papers and contributed articles to the Chicago Inter Ocean. In 1885, he was the editor of a newspaper supported financially by Frank “White Beaver” Powell, and eventually became an important player in Powell’s first two terms as mayor of La Crosse. In 1886 and 1887, Taylor became a crucial figure and office holder in Wisconsin’s People’s Party and then its Union Labor Party. His Wisconsin Labor Advocate was the voice of Wisconsin’s Labor Party in 1886-1887. From 1891 to 1910, Taylor lived in Oskaloosa and Ottumwa, Iowa, where he published a national magazine called the Negro Solicitor. During this period, he rose to prominence in national African American politics, acting as president of the National Colored Men’s Protective Association and the National Negro Democratic League and served high office in various other African American organizations. In 1904, Taylor was selected to lead the ticket of the National Negro Liberty Party for the office of President of the United States. From 1910 to 1925, Taylor retreated from the national stage and lived an active life in Jacksonville, Florida.
(Image from Richmond Planet (Richmond, VA), October 14, 1899, p.8)
The Quincy Daily Journal (Quincy, IL), August 25, 1897, p.7.
Iowa State Bystander (Des Monies, IA), December 23, 1898, p.2.
George Edwin Taylor, 1904 Presidential Campaign Poster.
Source: Eartha White Collection, Thomas G. Carpenter Library, University of North Florida.
George Edwin Taylor, Portrait of Presidential Candidate, 1904, Voice of the Negro, October 1904, p.476.
La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, WI), April 19, 1907, p.2.
Syracuse Daily Journal (Syracuse, NY), August 12, 1904, p.3.
Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, IN), January 19, 1908, p.10.
George Edwin Taylor, President of National Negro Democratic League, 1900, Times Picayune, New Orleans, 12 August 1900, p.22.
Included is a nice full-length portrait from the University of North Florida library.
This monograph consists of eight chapters covering the history of Black settlement between 1850 and 1906. Chapters 1 through 5 include biographical sketches of all persons listed in official records, personal/residential/occupational data for each person, residential districts and barbershop addresses, a chronology of Black settlement for the period of study, and a narrative analysis of data. Chapters 6 through 8 consist of reprints of eight articles printed earlier in Past, Present, & Future. La Crosse County Historical Society between 1998 and 2001. Of particular are chapters regarding George Coleman Poage (Olympian in 1904) and George Edwin Taylor (newspaper publisher, politician, and unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States in 1904).
One of the first items digitized with the help of UW-La Crosse Murphy Library Endowment Fund in 2002 was the only known original copy of the Wisconsin Labor Advocate, a newspaper published in La Crosse in 1886 and 1887. This newspaper had been given to the La Crosse Library Association and was considered by that association so liberal and incendiary that it was never removed from its original wrappers. That collection of papers was found in a store room of the library only in 1986. Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has the original issues, and the full run is available online.
*There are more materials about Taylor and African Americans in La Crosse on La Crosse History Unbound.
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