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George Edwin Taylor Was the First Black Man to Ever Run For President in the United States


George Edwin Taylor was the first African American man selected by a political party to be its candidate for the presidency of the United States. He grew up in a conflicted environment where the Civil War was always near. Taylor was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on August 4, 1857 to Amanda Hines, who was free, and Bryant (Nathan) Taylor, who was enslaved. Taylor, however, was raised in La Crosse, Wisconsin by a politically active Black family and later attended Wayland University in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin from 1877 to 1879.
After finishing college, he returned to La Crosse where he went to work for the La Crosse Free Press and then the La Crosse Evening Star. His work as a writer at the newspaper brought him into politics. For this reason, he sided with one of the competing labor factions in La Crosse. The Wisconsin Labor Advocate, which was his own newspaper, became one of the newspapers of the party when Taylor became a leader and office holder in Wisconsin´s statewide Union Labor Party. Taylor refocused his newspaper on national political issues when he was a member of the Wisconsin delegation during the first national convention of the Union Labor Party. As his prominence increased, his race became an issue, so Taylor decided to reply to the criticism by increasingly writing about African American issues.

Then, Taylor moved to Oskaloosa, Iowa, and was part of the Republican Party and then with the Democrats. While in Iowa, Taylor owned and edited the Negro Solicitor, and became president of the National Colored Men's Protective Association and the National Negro Democratic League. Taylor and other independent-minded African Americans in 1904 joined the National Liberty Party (NLP), the first national political party created exclusively for and by Blacks. The NLP Executive Committee asked Taylor to be the party´s candidate for that year's election.

During the campaign they proposed: universal suffrage regardless of race; Federal protection of the rights of all citizens; Federal anti-lynching laws; additional black regiments in the U.S. Army; Federal pensions for all former slaves; government ownership and control of all public carriers to ensure equal accommodations for all citizens; and home rule for the District of Columbia. This campaign was the last foray into politics of Taylor.

He believed that an independent political party that could mobilize the African American vote was the only practical way that Blacks could exercise political influence. Sadly, George Edwin Taylor died in Jacksonville, Florida on December 23, 1925 at the age of 68.