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William Sylvester Taylor

Gov. William Sylvester Taylor

  • December 12, 1899 - January 31, 1900
  • Republican
  • October 10, 1853
  • August 2, 1928
  • Kentucky
  • Married twice--Sara Tanner, Norah A. Meyers; eight children


WILLIAM S. TAYLOR was born in Butler County, Kentucky on October 10, 1853. He studied law and established a successful legal career, serving as Butler County judge from 1886 to 1894. Taylor entered politics in 1888, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, a position he held again in 1890. He also served as the Kentucky attorney general from 1896 to 1899. Taylor won the 1899 Republican gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to defeat the Democratic candidate, William Goebel, in a very close election. Taylor was sworn into office on December 12, 1899. However, the Democratic controlled legislature contested his right to take office, on grounds that the election was won by ballot fraud. Assassination threats were made against Goebel if he won his appeal, and on January 30, 1900, he was shot as he entered the State House. The following day, the legislature ousted Taylor from the governorship, proclaiming Goebel the governor, but Goebel passed away three days later. Several men were arrested on murder and conspiracy charges, and Taylor fled the state, avoiding arrest. He was never extradited, and lived the rest of his life in Indiana, where he worked as an insurance executive and an attorney. On April 23, 1909, Governor Augustus E. Willson pardoned Taylor and five others who were involved in the assassination of William Goebel. Governor William S. Taylor passed away on August 2, 1928, and was buried at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Governors' Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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