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Robert Love Taylor: Wikis


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Robert Love Taylor

Born July 31, 1850(1850-07-31)
Carter County, Tennessee
Died March 31, 1912 (aged 61)

Robert Love Taylor (July 31, 1850–March 31, 1912) was a U.S. Representative from Tennessee from 1879 to 1881, Governor of Tennessee from 1887 to 1891 and from 1897 to 1899, and subsequently a United States Senator from that state from 1907 until his death. He is notable for winning the governor's office in an election against his older brother, Alfred A. Taylor.

His father, Nathaniel Green Taylor was also a Congressman from Tennessee, and he was also a first cousin of Nathaniel Edwin Harris, Governor of Georgia from 1915 to 1917.


Early life and career

Taylor, known by the nickname "Our Bob", was a native of Carter County, Tennessee and was a Democrat, a relatively rare affiliation for a native of that part of northeastern Tennessee. He was both admitted to the bar and elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1878, winning one term but failing to be reelected in 1880. (Taylor would be the last Democrat to serve in Tennessee's 1st congressional district; since 1881 the seat has been continuously held by Republicans.) He was again a Democratic congressional nominee in 1882 and again defeated.

Governor's race

He was first nominated by the Democrats for governor in 1886. His Republican opponent was his older brother, Alfred A. Taylor. The subsequent campaign is known in Tennessee history as The War of the Roses after the conflict in English history of that name and the fact that Bob's supporters wore white roses, Alf's red. The two men travelled the state together, debating publicly at every stop and often sleeping at night in the same bed. Bob Taylor won election and was elected to a second term in 1888 and a third, non-consecutive term in 1896. (Alf was eventually elected governor himself in 1920, eight years after Bob's death.) Bob Taylor was also a newspaper publisher (co-founder of the Johnson City Comet).


Tennessee Centennial Exposition

The Parthenon in Centennial Park is a full-scale replica of the original Greek Parthenon

The most notable event of Taylor's final term as governor was the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, a World's Fair held in Nashville's Centennial Park, which was developed for the occasion, in the summer of 1897. (Tennessee's actual centennial as a state was in 1896, but it had become apparent early on to the organizers that they were not going to be able to put the event together in a timely manner, and hence they postponed it for a year.) Unlike most such events, it was something of a financial success in that it succeeded in essentially breaking even (with a reported profit of under $50!). This event is probably most remembered today as the origin of Nashville's unique full-sized reproduction of the Athenian Parthenon.

Poll tax

The most unfortunate aspect of Taylor's administration was probably the increase in the poll tax, which served to discourage voting among poor Tennesseans, as well as African American voters. An early attempt at statewide Prohibition was repealed during his term; however, this issue was certainly to surface again later.

Senate career

Years after his final term as governor he was elected to the United States Senate by the state legislature, the method used prior to ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913. He served in that office from 1907 until his death in 1912.

Final years

In 1910, when incumbent Democratic governor Malcolm R. Patterson withdrew from his contest for reelection due to the turmoil created within the party over the Prohibition issue, he agreed to serve as a replacement nominee. He was defeated by Republican nominee Ben W. Hooper, who had previously defeated Alf Taylor for the Republican nomination. This is a rare example of two brothers being defeated by the same opponent in the same year but in different races. Following his defeat in the gubernatorial race, Taylor continued to serve in the Senate until his death less than two years later. He was originally buried at Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville, but his remains were subsequently disinterred in 1938 and reburied at Monte Vista Cemetery in Johnson City in a family plot adjacent to his brother Alf.

External links


  • Taylor, Robert L., Jr. "Apprenticeship in the First District: Bob and Alf Taylor’s Early Congressional Races." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 28 (Spring 1969): 24-41.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Henry Randolph
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Augustus Herman Pettibone
Political offices
Preceded by
William B. Bate
Governor of Tennessee
Succeeded by
John P. Buchanan
Preceded by
Peter Turney
Governor of Tennessee
Succeeded by
Benton McMillin
United States Senate
Preceded by
Edward W. Carmack
United States Senator (Class 2) from Tennessee
Served alongside: James B. Frazier, Luke Lea
Succeeded by
Newell Sanders


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