Samuel Mitchell Taylor (1852–1921)
Samuel Mitchell Taylor was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Third through the Sixty-Sixth Congresses, serving from 1913 to 1921.
The oldest of ten children, Samuel Mitchell Taylor was born on May 25, 1852, near Fulton, Mississippi. His parents were Louisa Keyes Taylor and Clark W. Taylor, owners of a large successful plantation near Fulton. With the Civil War affecting the family’s finances, Taylor received what education he could in the local public schools before pursuing the study of law. He was admitted to the state bar in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he started a practice in 1876. Initially, he was associated with Judge W. D. Jones in the firm of Taylor and Jones, but he soon embarked on a solo practice. Taylor married Mary J. Bell on October 1, 1879; they eventually had two sons and two daughters.
While the practice began to thrive, Taylor entered the political arena. He won election to the Mississippi House of Representatives, where he served in 1879 and 1880. In 1886, Taylor decided to relocate to Arkansas, settling in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He quickly developed a successful practice while becoming active in civic affairs. Although new to the area, he served as prosecuting attorney for the state’s eleventh judicial district from 1888 until 1892. In addition, he served on Pine Bluff’s Board of Education from 1897 to 1913. A staunch party man, Taylor was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1896, and that same year he also served as a presidential elector. In addition, Taylor was selected as the chairman of the State Party Convention in 1896, a post he would again hold in 1910.
For all of his party involvement, Taylor’s congressional career began almost by accident when he won a special election in 1913 to fill the seat vacated by Joseph T. Robinson when Robinson became governor. Taylor proved to be a popular member of the House, being elected to a full term in 1914 and then usually running unopposed for reelection. Over the course of almost a decade in Congress, Taylor served on the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and was generally a supporter of the progressive legislation that characterized congressional activities during that time, as well as the United States’ efforts in World War I.
Taylor died suddenly on September 13, 1921, in Washington DC and is interred in Bellwood Cemetery in Pine Bluff. He was succeeded in Congress by his son Chester Taylor, who won the special election to fill the seat.
For additional information:
Herndon, Dallas Tabor. Centennial History of Arkansas. Vol. 3. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1922.
“Samuel Mitchell Taylor.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000100 (accessed September 28, 2021).
William H. Pruden III
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