Digitized Resources Murphy Library University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Skip to Main Content
  George Edwin Taylor (pictures)

Who is George Edwin Taylor?

Taylor was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in August 1857, to Amanda Hines, a free black 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 which required all free blacks to leave the state by 1 January 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, onboard the “Hawkeye State,” a side-paddle vessel then 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 black 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 black 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.


Resources on George Edwin Taylor:

Wisconsin Labor Advocate - 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.

Haas, Charles. “George Edwin Taylor: The black presidential candidate with the La Crosse connection.” Past, Present and Future. La Crosse County Historical Society vol. 30, no. 4 (October-December 2008): 1-3.  Included is a nice full-length portrait from the Univ. of North Florida library.

There are some nice materials about Taylor and blacks in La Crosse on La Crosse History Unbound including images of the paper Taylor published here in La Crosse from 1886-1887 Wisconsin Labor Advocate.

Black La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1850-1906: Settlers, Entrepreneurs & Exodusers. Mouser, Bruce L. La Crosse: La Crosse County Historical Society, 2002.  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).

For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor and the Making of Black Politics. Bruce L Mouser. University of Wisconsin Press, 2010. Available for purchase online at ///. 

There are several hundred published and original materials written about La Crosse and La Crosse County in La Crosse History Unbound, including theses, dissertations, seminar papers, pictures, maps, charts, and so forth. This site also provides access to various government documents and local sources.

Documents relating directly to George Edwin Taylor: Many of these were not appended in Mouser’s 2010 biography of Taylor but are included here. Readers are asked to suggest items for inclusion: such items should be sent to mouser.bruce@charter.net.

Defense of Voting Requirements – 1898

This is an essay written by an unidentified person at the Negro Solicitor, likely in late 1897 or early 1898, and republished in the Broad Ax, which was then being published in Salt Lake  City, Utah. The original issue of the Negro Solicitor from which this essay was taken no longer exists. Source: The Broad Ax, Salt Lake City, Utah, 30 April 1898, p.4

Cincinnati Platform – 1887

The Cincinnati Platform of the Union Labor Party. Conference of Industrial Labor, Cincinnati, Ohio, 22 to 24 February 1887. Source: Wisconsin Labor Advocate, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 4 March 1887

Colored Democrat – 1900

 “A Colored Democrat: Oskaloosa’s Black Boom for Bryan.” This article is the first sketch of Taylor and was written by him at the request of the press. It was written following Taylor’s election as president of the National Negro Democratic League in 1900. This is the first appearance of information about his early life. Much information from this sketch appears later in Taylor’s campaign literature in 1904. Source: Times Picayune, 12 August 1900, p22.

Cora Taylor Editorial – 1896

Editorial written by Cora E. Taylor, Oskaloosa, Iowa, and co-editor of The Negro Solicitor, on about 30 May 1896

Letter of Acceptance – 1904

Letter of acceptance made public today by Hon. George E. Taylor. Source: Ottumwa Weekly Democrat, 15 September 1904, p1. Letters of acceptance were generally published in full for all nominees of political parties. This is the only known segment from Taylor’s letter of acceptance.

La Crosse Convention Platform – 1886

Platform of the La Crosse Convention, 16 July 1886. Source: La Crosse News, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 17 July 1886, p2.

National Appeal – 1892

A National Appeal of 1892: Address to the American Negro and the Friends of Human Liberty. Issued following the Minneapolis Convention of the National Republican Party. Source: Daniel Murray Pamphlet Collection (Library of Congress)

National Appeal – 1896

National Appeal to the American Negro of 1896: Why we should favor the Chicago platform : by Geo. E. Taylor, Oskaloosa, Iowa.  Source: African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P.Murray Collection, 1818-1907, Library of Congress

Neenah Convention Platform – 1886 The Labor Platform Adopted At The Neenah Convention. Source: Wisconsin Labor Advocate, 24 September 1886, p2

Negroes for Bryan – 1900

This was a message to the nation given by the National Negro Democratic League at the conclusion of its biennial convention held in Kansas, City, Missouri in 1900. That convention was marked by a vigorous campaign for president of the League. George Taylor was selected as the League’s president, but his challenger, Fredrick McGhee, asked League to produce a letter to the American public. McGhee became the chairman of a Committee on Addresses chosen to draft such a letter. It is likely that this announcement was largely the creation of Fredrick McGhee. Source: Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois), 21 July 1900

National Liberty Party Appeal – 1904

“The National Liberty Party’s Appeal, by George Edwin Taylor, Candidate of the National Liberty Party for President of the United States.”  A slightly different version was printed by The Independent, Houston, Texas, 57(13 October 1904), 844-6. Source: Voice of the Negro, October 1904, 844-46

National Liberty Party Platform – 1904

National Negro Liberty Party Platform adopted at convention at Douglass Hotel, St. Louis, MO., on 7 July 1904. Source: Everit Brown and Albert Strauss, A Dictionary of American Politics (New York: A. L. Burt, c.1907), 585-87. For a summary of the platform, see East St. Louis Daily Journal, East St. Louis, Illinois, 8 July 1904. The platform also is printed in Edward Stanwood, A History of the Presidency vol. 2 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1916), 127-29. The Landmark, Statesville, North Carolina, 22 July 1904, p2, listed the “non-interference” in the affairs of the Far East as one of the five most important issues of the campaign

Ross to Taylor - 1904

Letter, James Ross to George Taylor, 9 August 1904. Source: Ottumwa Courier, Ottumwa, Iowa, 16 August 1904, p.2

Sun interview with Taylor – 1904

Taylor interview with The Sun, conducted c. 9 or 10 November 1904. A portion of this interview was published by the Washington Bee, 26 November 1904. Source: The Sun, New York City, New York, 20 November 1904, Section 3, p.7

Tillinghast Editorial – 2008

Article by Muriel Tillinghast written for “The Ladner Report – 25 May 2008.

“What the Party is.”

This is the only copy of this article and synopsis. Source: The Ottumwa Courier, Ottumwa, Iowa, 3 August 1904.

“A Man or a Monkey.”

This is a clipping from the Negro Solicitor and was found in a scrapbook of clippings kept by George Woodson of Buxton, Iowa. It was among a group of clippings dated by someone in the July to August period of 1898.

“Ex-Slave Bounty and Pension Association,” Senate Bill S.1176 - 1899

This page from the Congressional Record contains the exact language of the bill introduced "by request" by Senator Pettus. According to the debate found on this page, it was identical to other bills offered in both the House and the Senate over the years. Source: U.S. Senate, Cong. Rec., 56th Cong., 1st sess., 1899–1900, 11 December 1899 (Mr. Pettus), 33:183.

Pictures of George Edwin Taylor or of his particular world. Readers are asked to suggest pictures for inclusion: such items should be sent to mouser.bruce@charter.net.

Taylor 1889

Murphy Home | Library Catalog | Send Us Feedback | About Murphy | Contact Us | Hours | UW- La Crosse Home

Copyright 1999-2006, The University of Wisconsin - La Crosse.   Last updated: 10/28/08