Historical Markers
George Taylor Historical Marker
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George Taylor

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
NE corner of 4th and Ferry Sts., Easton

Dedication Date:
July 20, 1953

Behind the Marker

Wars tend to disrupt normal political divisions and functions. The internal political revolution that swept across Pennsylvania in the 1770s carried men into power who would otherwise have remained outsiders, and allowed them to bring the ideals of the common people to the American Revolution. Irish immigrant George Taylor, who arrived in Pennsylvania as an indentured servant in 1736, was one of these men.
Portrait of George Taylor.
George Taylor

Like many poor immigrants in this era, Taylor had a mobile and controversial life. Born in Northern Ireland in 1716, he immigrated to Pennsylvania where he worked to pay off the cost of his passage. Taylor then rose to become the manager of Warwick Furnace, a Chester County iron plantation. In 1747 he distinguished himself as a captain in Benjamin Franklin's volunteer private militia force, protecting the colony from frontier violence.

In the 1750s, having learned the iron business in Chester County, Taylor leased the markerDurham Furnace in upper Bucks County from a group of men that included Franklin's political protégé, Joseph Galloway. Another of the lessors, William Allen, Pennsylvania's chief justice, helped Taylor win election to the colonial Assembly in 1764 from nearby Northampton County. There he opposed Franklin's plans to replace Pennsylvania's proprietary charter with a royal one and gained the attention of the small merchants, artisans, and laborers who would later join the radical cause of American independence.

In 1765 Taylor served on the committee that wrote instructions for Pennsylvania's delegates to the Stamp Act Congress. He joined with other representatives from the colony's internal counties to work for increased representation for the backcountry, a grievance that helped to precipitate the overthrow of the old political establishment in 1776. As the revolutionary crisis intensified in 1774, Taylor became a member of Northampton County's Committee of Correspondence. Reelected to the Assembly in 1775, he co-authored instructions to Pennsylvania's delegates to the Continental Congress that directed them to abstain from any vote on independence.

Although he was not a member of the Provincial Conference that in May 1776 helped to push the old Assembly out of power, he was named to the Congress by the state constitutional convention that reorganized Pennsylvania's government in July. In that capacity he, like markerJames Smith,  belatedly signed the Declaration of Independence, although neither man had been involved in its consideration. Taylor was then elected in 1777 to Pennsylvania's "Supreme Executive Council," the state's weak plural executive body, but served for only five weeks before withdrawing because of poor health.

Taylor's private business affairs were ruined largely by the Revolution. His interest in the Durham Iron Works, which produced shot and cannon for the Continental Army, was compromised by one of the chief owners, Joseph Galloway, a Loyalist who fled to New York in 1776. When the state confiscated the ironworks, he lost his lease as well. Taylor died without ever knowing how the Revolution turned out. After relocating to New Jersey, Taylor, in failing health, leased Greenwich Forge, which he operated until his death in 1781.
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