ROBERT LOVE TAYLOR was born in Happy Valley, Tennessee. His family left Tennessee when the Civil War broke out, living briefly near Philadelphia before moving to Washington, DC, where his father served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Andrew Johnson’s presidential administration. The family returned to Happy Valley after Johnson’s term of office ended, and Taylor studied at Buffalo Institute (Milligan College) and at East Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens. After pursuing a number of occupations, including farming, Taylor moved to Jonesborough and studied law. In 1878 he was elected to a seat in Congress but held the office for only one term. After failing in a venture to establish a newspaper, he became an elector on the successful presidential ticket of Grover Cleveland and was rewarded with the post of Pension Agent at Knoxville. In 1886 he was nominated by the Democratic Party to run for governor, defeating his own brother, who was the Republican Party’s nominee. Among his accomplishments as governor for two consecutive terms was passage of a series of election laws, including poll tax and registration. A popular figure in the state, he was asked to run for governor again after a six-year hiatus and once more succeeded in defeating his Republican opponent. He went on to win election by the state legislature to a U.S. Senate seat in 1907. Three years later Democrats were once again divided-this time over the issue of prohibition, and in spite of party efforts to secure a gubernatorial win with Taylor as their repeat candidate, they were defeated by the Republican opponent. Taylor remained in the U.S. Senate until his death in Washington, DC. He was buried in Johnson City.
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Philips, Margaret I. The Governors of Tennessee. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2001.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
White, Robert H. Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, 1883-1899. Nashville: The Tennessee Historical Commission, Vol. 7, 1952.
Brother of Tennessee Governor Alfred Alexander Taylor