Arthur MacArthur, Senor, 4th Governor
Arthur MacArthur, Senor (January 26, 1815-August 26, 1896) was an American lawyer, judge, and politician who served as the acting governor of Wisconsin for four brief days in 1856, in the midst of an election scandal.
MacArthur was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the descendant of Highlander nobility through his father, who had died just seven days before his birth in 1815. His mother remarried and moved the family to Uxbridge, Massachusetts in 1828. He attended schools in Uxbridge and Amherst, Massachusetts but dropped out to help his family through a severe economic depression in 1837. Graduated from Wesleyan Univ. (Middletown, Conn.), studied law, worked as a law clerk in Boston and then New York, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1841.
Around 1844, he married Aurelia Belcher (1819 - 1864), the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. With the help of his father-in-law, MacArthur established a very successful legal practice in Springfield. He practiced law in New York and Massachusetts for several years, and in 1849 moved to Milwaukee where he soon became active in politics.
Differences in politics between the immigrant Democrat MacArthur and his conservative Whig in-laws soon led him to move his family from their influence. He set up a law office in New York City in 1845, and finally settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1849. MacArthur quickly befriended the powerful in his new home state, and was elected as the city attorney of Milwaukee in 1851. A Democrat, in 1855 was elected lieutenant governor as the running mate of incumbent, William A. Barstow (q.v.).
Barstow's election was contested by the Republican candidate, Coles Bashford (q.v.), who charged that fraud had been committed in the balloting. Governor Barstow resigned, and on Mar., 21, 1856, McArthur became governor. The state supreme court upheld Bashford as the duly elected governor, and although McArthur had at first decided to hold the governor's office regardless of the court's decision, he reconsidered and relinquished the office four days after assuming it. The election ended in scandal. Though Barstow was initially declared winner by a mere 157 votes, the result was challenged as a fraud by Barstow's opponent, the Republican Coles Bashford, and it was substantiated that election returns had been forged from non-existent precincts. Barstow kept hold of the office anyway, and as the rivals' militia forces converged on the state capital of Madison threatening to start a civil war, Barstow and MacArthur were inaugurated publicly on January 7, 1856. Despite his promises to hold onto the office at all costs, Barstow eventually realized that he was fighting a losing battle both legally and in public opinion, and resigned on March 21, 1856, four days before the Wisconsin Supreme Court resolved the controversy in favor of Bashford. MacArthur became acting governor upon Barstow's resignation and initially repeated his predecessor's resolve to remain in office. On March 25, however, when confronted face to face with a threat to use force from Bashford, a county sheriff, and a throng of Bashford's followers, MacArthur and his supporters vacated the Capitol. MacArthur finished his term as lieutenant governor, leaving office in 1857. He resumed his duties as lieutenant governor, and officially remained in this position until Jan., 1858.
The election scandal somehow left MacArthur's reputation relatively unscathed, and he won election for two terms as a judge on the Wisconsin Second Judicial Circuit, from 1857 until 1869. During the Civil War, McArthur was known as a "War Democrat," and subsequently joined the Republican party. In 1870, President Grant appointed MacArthur as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, a position that he held until his retirement in 1887.
After leaving the bench, MacArthur spent his remaining years in Washington moving in high society, accepting speaking engagements, and writing books and lecturing; his writings ranged from law publications to historical studies of Mary Stuart and Lady Jane Grey.
MacArthur had two sons, Frank, and famed General Arthur MacArthur, Jr., for whom he had first secured an appointment to West Point Military Academy and then as a first lieutenant in the 24th regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers. Arthur Jr. was himself the father of a general of even greater fame, the World War II commander, Douglas MacArthur.
He died in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington. Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 13 (1906); P. M. Reed, Bench and Bar of Wis. (Milwaukee, 1882); E. B. Usher, Wis. (8 vols., Chicago, 1914); Milwaukee Sentinel, Aug. 26, 1896; WPA MS. Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography
Coles Bashford, 5th Governor
Coles Bashford (January 24, 1816 - April 25, 1878) was an American lawyer and politician who became the first Republican governor of Wisconsin. His one term as governor ended in a bribery scandal that forced him to leave the state, but he was later instrumental in the government of the newly-formed Arizona Territory.
Bashford was born near Cold Spring in Putnam County, New York. He attended the Wesleyan Seminary (now Genessee College) in Lima, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1842. He served as the district attorney of Wayne County from 1847 until he resigned in 1850 and moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Elected on the Whig ticket, he served in the state senate (1853-1855). After the Whigs split on the issue of slavery, Bashford became one of the founding candidates of the Republican Party, winning a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly on that ticket in 1855. Bashford ran for governor as a Republican in 1855 and was at first declared the loser to the Democrat incumbent, William A. Barstow, by a mere 157 votes. However, Bashford claimed the result was fraudulent, and it was later discovered that Barstow's win was due to forged election returns coming from nonexistent precincts in the sparsely populated northern part of the state, in addition to other irregularities such as two separate canvassing boards claiming legitimacy in Waupaca County. With rival militia units converging on the state capital in Madison, Bashford was sworn in quietly in the chambers of the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Chief Justice Whiton on January 7, 1856. On the same day, Barstow was publicly inaugurated with full ceremony. The Wisconsin attorney general filed quo warranto proceedings in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to remove Barstow, who threatened that he would not "give up his office alive." After challenging the court's jurisdiction without success and noting that the tide of public opinion had turned against him, Barstow declined to contest the fraud allegations and sent his resignation to the legislature on March 21, 1856, leaving the lieutenant governor, Arthur MacArthur, as acting governor. On March 24, the court unanimously awarded the governorship to Bashford by a count of 1,009 votes. The following day, as Madison was crowded with onlookers, Bashford entered the Capitol with the court's judgment in hand, in the company of a sheriff and a throng of followers, and announced to MacArthur that he had come to claim his office. Upon Bashford's threat that force would be used if necessary, MacArthur and his supporters quickly left. Despite initial opposition by the Democrats in the State Assembly, both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature soon recognized Bashford as the new governor.
During his administration (1856-1857), the legislature distributed two huge grants of land awarded to Wisconsin by the U.S. government for buildingrailroads. As governor, Bashford appointed the first African-American to Wisconsin state office when he made barber and entrepreneur William Noland a notary public in 1857.1 Bashford declined renomination from the Republican Party, and left office at the end of his term on January 4, 1858.
Mere weeks later, an investigation was launched regarding bribes that he and members of his administration had accepted from the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad Company in exchange for approval of a major land grant. Bashford himself had received the largest payoff in the form of $50,000 in stocks and $15,000 in cash from the railroad company; state legislators and a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice were also involved in payoffs exceeding $400,000 in total. The prime beneficiary was Governor Bashford. From the La Crosse road alone he had received $50,000 in bonds, which he later converted into $15,000 cash. Nearly every copy of the final investigative report was seized and burned by the implicated politicians, but public outrage spread despite the suppression. Bashford managed to cash in his stock before the railroad company folded as a result of the investigation, and fled the state.
He travelled first to Washington, DC in 1862, and then left for the Arizona Territory in 1863 with his brother, Levi, who was to be Surveyor General of the newly-created territory. They made the arduous, cross-continental journey accompanying the "Governor's party" - the appointed territorial officials led by Governor John Noble Goodwin - and arrived in Arizona Territory in December of 1863.
Though moving to the Territory as a private citizen, Bashford was soon appointed its first Attorney General by Governor Goodwin, serving from 1864 until 1866. His position required him to journey throughout the Territory, frequently travelling through land considered "hostile Indian country", but he executed these duties without incident. Bashford was also the first lawyer admitted to practice in the Arizona Territorial Courts, and compiled the session laws of the Territory into one 400-page volume with the assistance of Associate Justice William T. Howell. He was elected President of the first Territorial Council (the Territory's upper legislative body) in 1864, and served from 1867 until 1869 as a territorial delegate to the United States Congress as an independent, rather than with his former party.
The last political office Bashford held was as Secretary of State for the Territory by appointment of President Grant in 1869 and again in 1873. After the Territory's capital moved from Prescott, where Bashford and Levi ran the Bashford Mercantile Store, Bashford resigned in 1876 to stay close to his business interests. He died in Prescott two years later. Bashford was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in Oakland, California. He and his wife Francis Adams had seven children: Belle (who had died at age 11), Edward, Elizabeth, Helen, Lillian, Margaret, and William Coles. The Bashford Mercantile Store remained operating in Prescott until the 1940s. Dict. Amer. Biog.; T. E. Farish, Hist. of Ariz. (8 vols., Phoenix, 1915-1918); J. B. Win-slow, Story of a Great Court (Chicago, 1912); WPA MS. Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography
Williams Randall, 6th Governor
Alexander Williams Randall (October 31, 1819 - July 26, 1872) was a lawyer, judge and politician from Wisconsin. Randall was born in Ames, Montgomery County, New York on October 31, 1819. His father Phineas was judge of the court of common pleas there from 1837 to 1841. Afterwards, the Randall family moved to Waukesha, where his father died in 1853. He attended Cherry Valley Academy (N.Y.), and read law in his father's office. In 1840 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Prairieville (now Waukesha), studied law in Waukesha and was admitted to the bar. He began to practice law in 1840. In 1845 was named postmaster of Waukesha, where he worked until he was elected to the state assembly in 1855.
A delegate to the first state constitutional convention (1846), Randall introduced and pushed through the convention a resolution to submit the question of Negro suffrage to statewide referendum. In the state's first presidential election, Randall supported the Free Soil party (1848). In 1855 he served one term in the state assembly as an independent Democrat, and while in the legislature helped secure the election of Charles Durkee (q.v.), Wisconsin's first Republican U.S. Senator. That fall, Randall was an unsuccessful candidate for state's attorney general on the Republican ticket, but in 1856 received an appointment from Republican Governor Coles Bashford (q.v.) to fill the unexpired term of 2nd circuit judge, Levi Hubbell (q.v.), and served briefly in that capacity (Sept. 1856-Apr. 1857).
In 1857 Randall was elected governor, was re-elected in 1859, and served two terms (Jan. 1858-Jan. 1862). Randall's first term in office was made notable by his initiation of a legislative investigation of frauds in the distribution of federal land grants in Wisconsin, his second, by his vigorous organization of the state for participation in the Civil War.
He served as Governor of Wisconsin from 1858 until 1861. As governor, Randall raised eighteen regiments, ten artillery batteries, and three cavalry units before leaving office, exceeding Wisconsin's quota by 3,232 men.
Failing to be named to the U.S. Senate or to receive a military appointment at the close of his second term, Randall accepted the post of minister to the Papal States (1862). Dissatisfied with this position, he returned to the U.S. and in 1862 was named assistant postmaster general. He served in this capacity until July, 1866, when, as a reward for his support and services, President Andrew Johnson advanced him to the postmaster generalship. Loyal to Johnson, Randall testified in his behalf at his impeachment and also contributed to his defense fund. Out of favor because of his support of Johnson and because of "desertion" of the Republican party, Randall retired at the conclusion of Johnson's term.
He settled in Elmira, N.Y., and practiced law there until his death, July 26, 1872. Dict. Amer. Biog.; W. B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors (New York, 1948); L. F. Stock, ed., U.S. Ministers to the Papal States (Washington, 1933); Madison Wis. State Journal, July 27, 1872; WPA MS. Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography
Note: Camp Randall - The Union Army in the American Civil War created a camp in Madison, Wisconsin called Camp Randall. The camp was eventually absorbed by the University of Wisconsin campus. The University named their stadium Camp Randall in honor of the camp.
Louis Powell Harvey, 7th Governor
Louis Powell Harvey (July 22, 1820 - April 19, 1862) was a businessman, an American politician and the seventh governor of Wisconsin.
Harvey was born in East Haddam, Connecticut, later moving with his family to Ohio. He attended Western Reserve College and tutored at Woodward College, Cincinnati. In 1841 he moved to Wisconsin, settling at Southport (now Kenosha) where he opened an academy. In Southport he was active in local Whig politics and was editor of the Whig Southport American (1843-1846). In 1846 he moved to Clinton and in 1850 settled in Shopiere. He was a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1847-1848, helped to organize the Republican party (1854), and was state senator (1854-1857). He was Wisconsin secretary of state (1860-1862), and in Jan., 1862, became governor.
Concerned with the welfare of Wisconsin soldiers in the South, Harvey organized an expedition to visit the wounded, and in April of 1862, having served only a few months as governor, Louis Harvey drowned near the end of a trip to Tennessee to visit Wisconsin troops who had fought in the Battle of Shiloh. His accidental death was caused when he fell into the Tennessee River while trying to step from one boat to another. His lieutenant governor, Edward Salomon, then became Wisconsin's next governor. Dict. Amer. Biog.; Hist. of Rock Co. (Chicago, 1879); E. B. Quiner, Military Hist. of Wis. (Chicago, 1866); WPA MS. Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography
Edward Salomon, 8th Governor
Edward Salomon (April 11, 1828 - April 21, 1909) was lawyer, politician, and Governor of Wisconsin during the Civil War. He was born in Stroebeck, Prussia. He attended the Univ. of Berlin, but, being a revolutionary sympathizer, fled the country in 1849, migrated to the U.S. and to Wisconsin, and settled in Manitowoc. In Manitowoc, Salomon was, in succession, a school teacher, county surveyor, and deputy circuit court clerk. In 1852 he moved to Milwaukee, read law, was admitted to the bar (1855), and set up a law practice with Winfield Smith (q.v.). In 1860, Salomon bolted his Democratic party affiliations to support Abraham Lincoln for the presidency, and in 1861 was nominated by the Republicans as "Union" candidate for lieutenant governor in the hope of gaining the German vote. Salomon won by a narrow margin, and in 1862, when Governor Louis P. Harvey (q.v.) was drowned, became Wisconsin's first German-born governor. During the remainder of the term (Apr. 19, 1862-Jan. 4, 1864), Salomon moved vigorously, raising 14 new regiments, besides refilling the ranks of old ones. He belligerently protected the state from impositions by the War Department, prosecuted the draft, and sent troops to arrest draft rioters. His actions aroused sufficient antagonism to prevent his renomination in 1863; he refused to run independently, and in 1864 resumed his law practice in Milwaukee. In 1869 he moved to New York City, where he continued his law practice and for a number of years was legal representative for various important German interests. Retiring in 1894, he returned to Germany, where he lived in obscurity until his death. Wis. Mag. Hist., 30; R. H. Jacobi, "Wis. Civil War Governors" [Unpub. M.S. thesis, Univ. of Wis., 1948]; WPA MS. Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography
Lewis, James Taylor 1819 - 1904
Definition: lawyer, politician, governor, b. Clarendon, N.Y. Following an academy education, he taught school and studied law. In 1840 he had traveled through Wisconsin, where his father had large land holdings, and in 1845 he settled in Columbus and was admitted to the bar. Especially fond of his profession and, for a time, the only lawyer in Columbia County, he enjoyed a successful practice and climbed the political ladder at a steady pace. A Democrat, he was a member of the constitutional convention of 1847-1848, served in the Assembly (1852), the state Senate (1853), and as lieutenant governor from 1854 to 1856. He then retired to his law practice, but entered into politics again in 1861, this time as a Republican, and was elected secretary of state. In the gubernatorial election of 1863, the Republicans nominated Lewis. The Democratic opponent, Henry L. Palmer (q.v.), had been tainted in some railroad deals of the previous decade and Lewis won the election. Lewis was an ardent supporter of President Lincoln, faithfully supplied his state's quota of soldiers for the army, made numerous trips to army hospitals and camps, and secured a special order to transfer all of Wisconsin's sick and wounded soldiers to their home state. He was also instrumental in founding homes both for soldiers and soldiers' orphans. Keeping his 1863 election promise, he refused to run for a second term; he periodically refused all other offers of political office. For the rest of his life he lived in Columbus, and played an important part in bringing water and electric utilities to his home city. In 1876 he broke his retirement to become a delegate to the Republican national convention that nominated Rutherford B. Hayes. W. B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors (New- York, 1948); Historical Atlas of Wis. (Milwaukee, 1878); Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 12 (1904); U.S. Biog. Dict. .. . Wis. (Chicago, 1877); E. B. Quiner, Military Hist. of Wis. (Chicago, 1866); Milwaukee Sentinel, Aug. 5, 1904; WPA MS.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
Fairchild, Lucius 1831 - 1896
Definition: soldier, governor, diplomat, b. Kent, Ohio. He was the son of Jairus Cassius Fairchild (q.v.). In 1834 the family moved to Cleveland and in 1846 came to Wisconsin and settled in Madison. After attending Carroll College, Lucius joined the rush of fortune hunters to California and spent six years (1849-1855) in the gold fields. Returning to Madison in 1855, he was clerk of the Dane County circuit court (1859). He also studied law and was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1860. In 1861 he enlisted in the 1st Wisconsin Volunteers. He was soon transferred to the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, where he rose to the rank of colonel and served in most of the major battles in the eastern sector of the war as a member of the "Iron Brigade." In 1863 he lost an arm at the Battle of Gettysburg, and shortly before he was mustered out of the army in Oct., 1863, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. Returning to Wisconsin where he had been nominated by the Republican party for the position of secretary of state, he was elected to that office and served from 1864 to 1866. In 1865 he was elected governor and served three successive terms (1866-1872). Although his administration was largely concerned with routine business matters, Fairchild was active in promoting soldiers' aid and state institutions, and in pressing for a commission to study the railroad problem. Toward the end of his term he was active in relief measures to aid victims of the Peshtigo fire. At the close of his terms as governor he was appointed consul at Liverpool, an office that he held from 1872 to 1878. He was consul-general in Paris (1878-1880), and from 1880 to 1882 was U.S. minister to Spain. Returning to Wisconsin in 1882 with hopes of advancing his political career, he found the Republican party under the control of such men as J. C. Spooner (q.v.), H. E. Paine (q.v.), and Philetus Sawyer (q.v.), who were willing to afford him honors but not political power. He enjoyed a short-lived boom for the presidential or vice-presidential nomination in 1884, and in 1885 was defeated by John C. Spooner as the legislature's choice for U.S. Senator. With his political ambitions quashed, Fairchild devoted his interests to veterans' groups. He was state and national commander of the G.A.R. (1886-1887), and while holding this office he voiced the veterans' dissatisfaction with Grover Cleveland in a ringing curse of the President (June 15, 1887) on the occasion of his order to return Confederate battle flags. Fairchild was national commander of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion (1893-1895). In 1889 he was president of the commission appointed to negotiate with the Cherokee Indians for the purchase of lands in Oklahoma. Dict. Amer. Biog.; Wis. Mag. Hist., 10, 31; J. Schafer, ed., Calif. Letters of L. Fairchild (Madison, 1931); WPA MS; L. Fairchild Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
Fairchild was born in Kent, Ohio on December 27, 1831, and in 1846 he moved with his family to Madison, Wisconsin. In April 1861, he enlisted inthe 1st Wisconsin Volunteers. He was later appointed Lieutenant colonel and then colonel of 2nd Wisconsin and he served at Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg where he lost his arm and was captured on July 1, 1863. In October 1863, Fairchild was appointed Brig. Gen. of Volunteers. He resigned from service in November 1863. He returned to Wisconsin after his military service in the Civil War and was elected secretary of state, a position he held from 1864 to 1866. He then served three terms as governor from 1866 to 1872. In his later years, Fairchild was consul to Liverpool. He also devoted much time and energy to veterans' groups. He served as national commander of the G.A.R. for several years. He died on May 23, 1896 and is buried in Madison.
Lucius Fairchild (December 27, 1831 May 23, 1896) was an American politician and diplomat. He served as the 10th governor of Wisconsin and as U.S. Minister to Spain. He was the son of Jairus Fairchild, who served as mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, and younger brother of Cassius Fairchild, who was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Fairchild was born in Portage County, Ohio, and moved to Madison with his parents in 1846. As a youth, Fairchild left home to travel to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush and returned to Madison in 1855. Fairchild was clerk of the court from 1859 to 1860. He enlisted in the army in 1861 and served in the Civil War as a general. At the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, he was wounded and lost his left arm.
From 1864 to 1866, Fairchild was the secretary of state of Wisconsin, and governor of Wisconsin for three terms from 1866 to 1872. After his time as governor, Fairchild was appointed U.S. consul at Liverpool in 1871 and then consul general at Paris. From 1880 to 1881, Fairchild was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotenciary to Spain.
Washburn, Cadwallader Colden 1818 - 1882
Definition: businessman, politician, soldier, Congressman, governor, b. Livermore, Maine. He moved west in 1839, settling briefly in Davenport, Iowa, but soon moved across the Mississippi River to Rock Island, Ill., where he read law, and held local political offices as a member of the Whig party. In 1842 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Mineral Point, where he was admitted to the bar, and in 1844 formed a partnership with Cyrus Woodman (q.v.). The partners soon began to acquire large tracts of timberlands in northern Wisconsin, and by 1854 they owned some 60,000 acres in the pineries. In 1847 the two men purchased the Helena shot tower near the Wisconsin River, operated it until 1861, and from 1852 to 1855 were proprietors of a banking business at Mineral Point. A Republican, Washburn was elected to Congress in 1854, was twice re-elected, and served from Mar., 1855, to Mar., 1861. He was not a candidate for re-election in 1860, and in 1861 moved to La Crosse. During the Civil War, he served as colonel of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry (Oct. 1861 July 1862), was promoted to brigadier general in June, 1862, and in Nov. of the same year was advanced to major general of U.S. Volunteers, serving in this capacity until his resignation in May, 1865. After leaving the army, he returned to La Crosse, was again elected to Congress (1866, 1868), and served two terms (Mar. 1867-Mar. 1871). In the Wisconsin gubernatorial election of 1871, Washburn defeated Democratic candidate James R. Doolittle (q.v.). Washburn's term as governor (Jan. 1872-Jan. 1874) was marked by moderate opposition to the growing power of the railroads, but distrust by the Granger element, his veto of the La Crosse bridge bill, and passage of the Graham law led to his defeat by "Reform" party (Granger-Democrat coalition) candidate William R. Taylor (q.v.) in the election of 1873. After an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senatorship in 1875, Washburn retired from politics, and devoted himself to the management of his extensive business interests; the most important were his flour-milling activities in Minneapolis. Washburn had acquired water-power rights to St. Anthony Falls, and as early as 1856 incorporated the Minneapolis Water Power Co. In 1866 he built a flour mill there, and subsequently was one of the first millers to utilize the rolling mill type of production. By 1881 Washburn was one of the largest flour producers in the Middle West; he operated three mills in Minneapolis, and was rivaled in the industry only by the mills of Charles A. Pillsbury. Washburn also owned a controlling interest in the La Crosse Republican, and was an important figure in securing construction of the Minneapolis and St. Louis R.R. He acquired a large fortune, donated funds for construction of the Washburn Observatory at the Univ. of Wisconsin (1876), and in 1879 was made a life-time regent of the Univ. of Wisconsin. From 1878 until his death he was president of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and in his will bequeathed large sums for the establishment of a public library in La Crosse, and for an orphan's home in Minneapolis. He died in Hot Springs, Ark., where he had gone to recover from an illness. Dict. Amer. Biog.; G. Hunt, comp., I. E. and C. Washburn (New York, 1925); Wis. Mag. Hist., 14; L. Cara, Westernized Yankee: Story of C. Woodman (Madison, 1956); Milwaukee Sentinel, May 15, 1882; WPA MS; C. C. Washburn Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
Taylor, William Robert 1820 - 1909
Definition: farmer, politician, governor, b. Woodbury, Conn. He attended Champion Academy in N.Y. and in 1840 moved to Ohio, where he taught for a few years, attended medical school, and served briefly as an officer in the state militia. In 1848 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Cottage Grove where he farmed and held local political offices. A Democrat, Taylor was state assemblyman (1855) and state senator (1859-1860). In the gubernatorial election of 1873, Taylor, utilizing his membership in the state Grange as well as railroad and liquor support, and aided by his able campaign manager, George H. Paul (q.v.), was elected governor on the Democratic-Liberal-Reform ticket (Granger-Democrat). During his administration (Jan. 1874 to Jan. 1876) Taylor advocated moderate railroad rate regulation and also recommended passage of a law making railroads responsible for injuries to their employees. However, the outstanding issue of Taylor's administration was the Potter Act of 1874 which fixed maximum freight and passenger rates and provided for the establishment of a regulatory railroad commission. Although Taylor did not favor such an extreme program, both he and his chief railroad commissioner, George Paul, were forced to uphold the Potter law when it was deliberately challenged and disregarded by railroad interests under the leadership of Alexander Mitchell (q.v.). In a desperate attempt to retain the Granger-farmer support which had elected him to office, Taylor appointed E. G. Ryan (q.v.) to the state supreme court bench and Ryan ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the Potter Act. Nevertheless, both Taylor and Paul felt it necessary to work out a compromise with Mitchell, and in 1875 the Democrat-Granger-Reform coalition fell apart and Republican Harrison Ludington (q.v.) was elected to the governorship. After leaving office, Taylor was for a time involved in a series of legislative investigations which charged him with misuse of public funds. In his later years he lost heavily in grain speculation, and in 1905 he was forced to seek shelter in the Gisholt Home for the Aged where he died in relative obscurity. W. F. Raney, Wis. (New York, 1940); A. J. Beitzinger, E. G. Ryan . . . (Madison, 1960); Wis. Mag. Hist., 14, 15, 33; Wis. Legis. Manual (1875); Wis. Blue Book (1935); W. R. Taylor Papers.
[Source: Blue book]
Info and has been compiled from various sources including:
Wisconsin Blue Book, Wisconsin Historical Society, and Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia