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William Sylvester Taylor papers, 1899-1937

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Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig


William Sylvester Taylor papers




University of Kentucky Special CollectionsLexington, Kentucky 40506


Arranged somewhat chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], William Sylvester Taylor papers 1899-1937, 1F63M-553, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.


1 reel.


Governor of Kentucky, politician, lawyer. William S. Taylor (1853-1928) was, after serving a term as Kentucky's attorney general, chosen as the Republican Party nominee for the 1899 gubernatorial contest. His opponents, in what was probably the most tumultuous election in Kentucky history, included representatives of two Democratic factions: state senator William Goebel (1856-1900) and former Governor John Young Brown (1835-1904). After a heated campaign the two front runners, Taylor and Goebel, waited over a month for the election commission's announcement of the official results. Shortly before inauguration day Taylor was declared the winner by about two thousand votes.

While a complaint filed by Goebel's supporters was pending before the legislature, an assassin wounded Goebel outside the capitol building. Taylor, ensconced in the state house and surrounded by militia, barred the heavily Democratic legislature from the building. They met in a hotel instead and declared Goebel as governor. Following a hasty inauguration, Goebel died and was succeeded by his lieutenant governor, J. W. C. Beckham. While the election results were being considered in the courts, Taylor and his Secretary of State, Caleb Powers, were accused of being accessories in the assassination. After the courts decided in favor of the Goebel-Beckham ticket, Taylor fled to Indianapolis, Indiana where he practiced law and resisted extradition until he was pardoned by Governor Augustus E. Willson in 1909.

Scope and Content

These papers consist of materials related to the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899 and its aftermath. The collection is comprised of clippings, typescripts of clippings, legal documents and articles from Kentucky newspapers. Also present are certificates from the secretary of state's office, from Governor William O. Bradley (1847-1914) declaring that Taylor had won the election, and Willson's pardon of Taylor. Typescripts of the Democratic and Republican Party's platforms from 1899 and of Taylor's inaugural address are also present as are materials relating to and typescripts from a few of Caleb Powers' hearings.


  • Taylor, William S. (William Sylvester), 1853-1928.
  • Beckham, J. C. W. (John Crepps Wickliffe), 1869-1940.
  • Bradley, William O'Connell, 1847-1914.
  • Brown, John Young, 1835-1904.
  • Goebel, William, 1856-1900.
  • Powers, Caleb, 1869-1932.
  • Willson, Augustus E. (Augustus Everett), 1846-1931.
  • Kentucky.--Attorney General's Office.
  • Kentucky.--Secretary of State.
  • Assassination--Politics and government--Kentucky.
  • Governors.
  • Lawyers.
  • Politicians.
  • Kentucky--Elections, 1899.
  • Kentucky--Political parties--Platforms.
  • Clippings.
  • Legal documents.
  • Speeches

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