Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
New York Congressman John W. Taylor served as the ninth Speaker of the House.
On this date, Speaker of the House John W. Taylor
of New York was born in Charlton, New York. A lawyer by trade, Taylor served in the New York state assembly before his election in 1812 to the first of 10 consecutive terms in the U.S. House. At a time when regional party affiliations were in flux, Taylor—first elected as a Jeffersonian-Republican to the 13th Congress
(1813–1815)—later served under the banner of several other parties: Adams-Clay Republican; Adams; and Anti-Jacksonian. Taylor won election as Speaker of the House in two non-consecutive terms, the 16th Congress
(1819–1821) and 19th Congress
(1825–1827)—succeeding the renowned Henry Clay
of Kentucky on both occasions. As one of the early abolitionists in Congress, Taylor introduced resolutions to prohibit territories from entering the Union as slave states. He supported the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which admitted Missouri as a slave state but outlawed slavery north of the 36-30 latitude. Taylor had a reputation for fairness as a presiding officer, but southern Members later opposed him because of his abolitionist views. “I lost my third election as Speaker,” he explained to his son, “through my direct opposition to slavery.” Taylor remained a Member for several terms until party leaders back home undermined his bid for re-election to the 23rd Congress
(1833–1835). Taylor joined the Whig Party and served briefly in the New York state senate in the early 1840s until he resigned following a stroke. In 1843, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he resided with his daughter until his death in 1854.