Author: Christopher T. Brooks


James T. S. Taylor (1840–1918)

James T. S. Taylor represented Albemarle County at the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868. Born to free parents, Taylor served with the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and wrote letters to the New York Anglo-African during his service. Described as a radical, Taylor won election in 1867 as one of the county’s two delegates to a convention called to rewrite the state’s constitution. African Americans, voting for the first time in Virginia, overwhelmingly supported him, although his own father, a moderate, publicly opposed Taylor’s election. Taylor spoke occasionally during convention and voted with the majority to approve the new constitution, which provided for universal manhood suffrage and the establishment of a statewide public school system. In subsequent years he twice ran for a seat in the House of Delegates, but he lost both times. Taylor remained a prominent member of Charlottesville‘s African American community well into the twentieth century. He died of pneumonia at his home in 1918.