George Taylor - The Indentured Servant Who Signed The Declaration

George Taylor - The Indentured Servant Who Signed The Declaration

George Taylor was the only former indentured servant to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Taylor held several positions in the Continental Congress and Pennsylvania State Government, but his most important contributions were contributing cannons to the Continental Army.


George Taylor

George Taylor first came to Pennsylvania from Ireland as a 20-year-old indentured servant.

As an indentured servant, he exchanged his labor for the cost of his travel across the Atlantic Ocean.

The man who paid for his trip, Samuel Savage, was an ironworker and Taylor took up the same trade. Legend has it that Taylor quickly proved his value and was given the responsibility of keeping the books for the business.


Ironworks

When Savage died, Taylor married his widow, Ann.

George operated Savage’s business until his son was old enough to take over.

Taylor then began leasing ironworks, first from William Allen then from Joseph Galloway.

He found great success, built a large house and began serving in public positions. His rise in social standing just happened to coincide with the outbreak of the American Revolution.


Continued Operation

George Taylor began making cannonballs for the impending war with Great Britain when the owner of his shop, Joseph Galloway, left the First Continental Congress and fled to England. 

The Congress seized the building but allowed Taylor to continue his operation due to the Continental Army’s need for shot. 


Signer

After the vote for independence, several Pennsylvania Delegates were forced to leave the Continental Congress as they did not support the decision.

George Taylor was one of the people chosen to replace those men.

Arriving in early August of 1776, one of his first tasks was to join his fellow Representatives in signing the Declaration of Independence

Taylor was the only former indentured servant and one of the few tradesmen to ink his name on that immortal document. 


Retirement

Taylor’s time in Congress was short lived.

He was replaced just six months later, but was elected to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council which was the highest governing body in the State.

Unfortunately, he became gravely ill and was forced to resign, leaving behind politics for good. 

George spent the next several years overseeing his ironworks business and continuing to create supplies for the Continental Army.

He passed away in early 1781, just a few months before the Revolutionary War came to a close. George Taylor was one of the few signers of the Declaration who never saw his country secure its freedom.


Want to read about other Declaration signers from Pennsylvania?

Great! Check out these articles:

James Smith

The Declaration’s Last Signer - Thomas McKean

Joseph Reed and the Battle of Fort Wilson

Want to read about other signers of the Declaration?

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