George Edwin Taylor -- Black History Month

This year for Black History Month we are going to talk politics. Now I will admit I hate talking politics. Mostly I hate it because I think all of the people we have elected (and have choices to elect) are selfish and power hungry and don't do a good job. Personally I feel they should be paying the citizens every day that they don't actually decide anything for the better of the country (which would be every day). However I am going to put my hatred aside today and talk about some of the history of the United States President elections. We all know back in 2008, Barrack Obama made history as the first black United States President. Did you know he was not the first black man to run for President? 

Now there have been black people trying to run for President since 1848 when Frederick Douglass received one vote at the national convention for the Liberty Party's nominee. He received one vote at the national convention in 1888 as the Republican Party's nominee as well. However it was in 1904 that the first black man ran for President. His name was George Edwin Taylor. He was the nominee of the National Negro Liberty Party. I only recently learned about him and thought I would share this piece of history with you.
George Edwin Taylor
George was the child of a free black woman, Amanda Hines, and a slave, Nathan Taylor. He was born on August 4, 1857 in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1859 Arkansas passed the Free Negro Expulsion Bill which forced free blacks to flee the state by January 1, 1860, or become enslaved. Amanda Hines left with infant George and went to Alton, Illinois. Alton was a center for the Underground Railroad along the Mississippi. Amanda Hines died of tuberculosis in 1861 or 1862. George claimed he lived as an orphan in storehouse boxes during the war. In 1865 George landed in La Crosse, Wisconsin via the Hawkeye State, a steam side paddle wheeler that operated between St. Paul, Minnesota and St. Louis, Missouri. It is believed that Henry Southall and his wife took George in for a few years. Henry Southall was a black cook on paddle wheelers like the Hawkeye State. Some believe Henry may have found George in Alton and brought him home with him on the boat. During this time there are records showing a George Southall, which is believed to be George Taylor. The Southalls moved from La Crosse when George was 10 or 11 and George remained there. He eventually was put in the care of Nathan and Sarah Smith, who took care of orphaned and abandoned children near West Salem, Wisconsin. It was during this time that George took the name George Edward Taylor.  George lived with the Smiths until he was 20. He attended a country school during this time. It is believed that Nathan Smith valued education for the boys in his care. At age 20, George attended Wayland University in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. He completed two of a three year program leaving due to health and financial reasons. 

In 1879 George left Wayland University and returned to La Crosse. He changed his middle name to Edwin instead of Edward. In 1885 George married Mary Hall of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. There are no records of Mary in La Crosse and in 1894 George claimed he was never married, so not much is known about this marriage and it looks like it did not last. George wrote for several of the newspapers in La Crosse. In 1885 he was the editor of the Evening Star, a newspaper owned by Frank Powell. Powell decided to run for mayor that year and expected George to write for his campaign. George served as the campaign director.  Powell was mayor for two terms. 

George and Powell both supported the laborers of La Crosse and Wisconsin. George was very active in the labor movement even being the state secretary and one of the founders of the Wisconsin's People Party in 1886. With his rapid rise in the labor movement people started to notice his race. When he was taunted for being black and retaliated his support in La Crosse began to collapse (due to most of it being from white people). 

In January 1891 George ended up in Iowa and was affiliated with the Republican Party. His focus shifted from labor to race. He owned and operated the Negro Solicitor, a newspaper, as well as a farm. He also served two terms as a Justice of Peace. 

In 1892 George, Frederick Douglass, and Charles Ferguson carried recommendations from Black Independent Republicans to the Platform Committee of the National Republican Party. The committee rejected all of their recommendations. In response George published a scathing appeal to the American Negro and Friends of Human Liberty. The appeal ended all chances George had to have a role in the state and national party.  He transitioned from Republican to Democrat to Independent and back to Democrat. 

On August 25, 1894 he married Cora Buckner. However this marriage ended in divorce when Cora refused to leave Oskaloosa with George when he was moving to Coalfield, Iowa to manage a lead mine. 
George Edwin Taylor
Between 1900 and 1904 George was the president of the National Negro Democrat League. However there was issues of debates and lots of fractures within it and George was ready to abandon his post. In 1904 the newly formed National Negro Liberty Party asked him to be their candidate for United States President. The party had asked Col. William Thomas Scott of St. Louis to be their candidate but when he was arrested for not paying a fine imposed in 1901, the party turned to George Edwin Taylor. Sadly his name never appeared on any of the ballots due to state laws. Any votes for him were not counted. The support the National Negro Liberty Party promised did not materialize. It was estimated that the party got 65,000 votes nationwide but this number could not be confirmed. 

In 1910 George moved to Florida. He married Tillinghast of Green Cove Spring, Florida. He was editor to several newspapers during his time in Florida. He became politically connected there as well as nationally. He died in Jacksonville, Florida on December 23, 1925.

George Edwin Taylor lived a very interesting life. He went from being born to a slave and freewoman to an orphan and then running for president. I was lucky enough to find a book at our public library which is about this amazing man. It is For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House and the Making of Independent Black Politics by Bruce L. Mouser. 

Looking for more Black History Resources? Check out the picture book biographies I shared last month as well as my past Black History Month Posts.

Black History Month on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Welcome to our seventh annual Black History Month Blog Hop, where together we explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.
Don’t miss our blog hops from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.
You can also follow our Black History board on Pinterest:

Participating Blogs

All Done Monkey on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Mommy Evolution
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes
Crafty Moms Share