Edmund Dick Taylor
Edmund Dick Taylor (October 18, 1804 - December 4, 1891) was
an American businessman, politician, and soldier from Illinois. He is
remembered as the first person to suggest that the United States
should issue paper currency ("greenbacks") during the American Civil
1 Early life
3 Business career
Illinois coal mines
3.2 Internal improvements
3.3 Chicago Merchants' Exchange
3.5 Appeal to Congress
4 Father of the Greenback
5 Educational institutions
6 Military service
10 External links
He was born Edmund Richard Taylor in Lunenburg County, Virginia, son
of Giles Y Taylor (1766–1830) and Francine "Sina" Stokes. In later
years, he preferred to use his middle name rather than his first name,
and used in its short form. Thus he became known as "Dick" Taylor, and
his middle initial was written "D" in formal documents.
In the fall of 1823, he began general merchandising with Colonel John
Taylor in Springfield, Illinois. On 18 September 1829, he married
Margaret Taylor (born 28 December 1813 in Kentucky), the daughter of
Col. John Taylor and Elizabeth (Burkhead) Taylor.
In 1830, he was elected to the
Illinois State Legislature,
representing Sangamon County. In 1832 he was re-elected, defeating
several challengers including Abraham Lincoln. Taylor was the only man
to defeat Lincoln in a direct election. In 1834 he was elected to
Illinois Senate from Sangamon County.
In 1835, he was appointed by President
Andrew Jackson as Receiver of
Public Moneys in Chicago, where he was in charge of substantial sales
of federal land. After holding this position for four years, he
returned to the private sector. He continued to play a leading role in
Democratic Party politics in Illinois.
Illinois coal mines
Taylor was a pioneer of the coal industry in Illinois. In 1823 he took
an interest in coal and opened the West End Shaft, also known as West
End Coal Mine.
In 1856, he sank a shaft in La Salle County, Illinois, operating as
Illinois Coal and Iron Company. He also owned other mines
in that area.
On 18 February 1863, at a convention in Chicago of the coal operators
in Illinois, Edmund was appointed Chairman.
Taylor played an important role in
Illinois in promoting and bringing
about "internal improvements" (canals, railroads, and other
transportation infrastructure). General Usher F. Linder stated "If any
man deserves more credit than another for the completion of the
Illinois and Michigan Canal, it is Col. Edmund D. Taylor."
Galena and Chicago Union Railroad
Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was incorporated on 16
January 1836, Taylor was appointed commissioner and director.
On 18 January 1837, at Russell's Saloon in Chicago, supporters of
internal improvements held a mass meeting. William H. Brown was called
to the chair and William Stuart appointed Secretary, Francis Payton
stated the objects of the meeting. A committee of five was appointed
namely: Edmund D. Taylor, Captain J. B. F. Russell, Francis Payton,
John H. Kinzie, and Joseph N. Balestier. The meeting declared in favor
of the immediate construction of the
Illinois Central Railroad and
general system of improvement.
Chicago Merchants' Exchange
On 5 February 1857, the Chicago Merchants' Exchange company was
incorporated by: Edmund D. Taylor, Thomas Hall, George Armour, James
Peck, John P. Chapin, Walter S. Gurnee, Edward Kendall Rogers, Thomas
Richmond, Julian Sidney Rumsey, Samuel B. Pomeroy, Elisha Wadsworth,
Walter Loomis Newberry, Hiram Wheeler and George Steele.
Taylor was ruined by the
Great Chicago Fire
Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed
14 stores owned by him. He had insurance, but it was with Chicago
firms that were overwhelmed by the disaster.
Appeal to Congress
During the Civil War, Taylor had spent considerable sums from his own
pocket for travel on government business and in raising and equipping
Union troops. At the time, he asked for no reimbursement. But in 1887,
he applied to Congress to be repaid $15,000 of his expenses. Taylor
retained considerable standing in Chicago's business community. His
petition included a supporting memorial signed by 56 prominent men of
Chicago and Illinois. Taylor's petition was considered by the
Committee on War Claims, but it was rejected for want of
documentation. Taylor renewed his petition in 1890, but it was
Father of the Greenback
By late 1861, it was clear that the Civil War was going to be much
more costly than anyone had expected, and that the Union would have to
raise or find or borrow vast amounts of money. Taylor had the idea
that the Union could pay its expenses with newly created money in the
form of paper currency ("greenbacks"). In 1861, Taylor mentioned his
idea for greenbacks at General Grant's headquarters in Cairo,
On 16 January 1862, Taylor met privately with President Abraham
Lincoln at his request. Taylor suggested the issuance of treasury
notes bearing no interest and printed on the best banking paper.
Taylor said "Just get Congress to pass a bill authorizing the printing
of full legal tender treasury notes... and pay your soldiers with them
and go ahead and win your war with them also. If you make them full
legal tender... they will have the full sanction of the government and
be just as good as any money; as Congress is given the express right
by the Constitution."
In a letter dated 16 December 1864, the President named Col. Edmund D.
Taylor as "the father of the present greenback". 
Taylor cited his suggestion of the greenback in his 1887 petition to
Congress. He included the 1864 letter from Lincoln. In February
1888, he added a recent letter from General John McClernand, who had
been at Cairo at the time, and confirmed Taylor's account.
Taylor was a patron of many educational institutions.
In 1837, he was on the Board of Trustees for Rush Medical College.
In 1857, he was one of the Founding Board of Trustees for the Old
University of Chicago.
The Old University of Chicago
Taylor had several tours of military service.
Winnebago War of 1827, he enlisted as a private in Captain
Bowling Green's Company of othe militia on 20 July 1827, and was
honorably discharged 27 August.
Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War of 1831m he was commissioned as a colonel in
the state militia on 13 June by governor John Reynolds. He was also
Aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Joseph Duncan of the Brigade of
Mounted Volunteers, in service of the United States. 
During the Civil War, Taylor was again commissioned a colonel. He did
not serve in the field, but was employed very extensively by President
Lincoln as a confidential messenger.
On 18 September 1829 in Illinois, Edmund Richard "Dick" Taylor married
Margaret Taylor (b. 28 December 1813 in Kentucky), the daughter of his
business partner Col. John Taylor and Elizabeth Burkhead. Their
Giles Y Taylor (1833–1852) married. His son Giles Young Taylor
married 16 March 1886 in Dupage County, Illinois, to Ella May
Elizabeth Taylor (1834–1915);
Hannah T Taylor (b. 1836);
Samuel F Taylor (1836–1876);
Margaret A Taylor (25 Nov 1838 in Cook County,
Illinois – 9 Feb
1922), married B. F. Beebe;
John Taylor (b. 1843 in Illinois);
Charles T. Taylor (17 October 1844 in Springfield,
Illinois – 3
August 1905), industrialist, married Pelagie Ewing (18 November 1846
– 28 December 1920), sister of William L. Ewing;
Dick Taylor (b. 1846 in Indiana);
William W Taylor (1853–1911), General Superintendent of St. Paul
Coal Company, married in
Illinois to Jennie Margaret Mills (25 Nov
1853 in La Salle County,
Illinois – 25 April 1936); and
Ella Francine Taylor (1857–1938), married 6 November 1878 in La
Salle County, Illinois, to Isaac Whitson Rogers.
Taylor died in Chicago, Illinois, on December 4, 1891.
^ a b History of the early settlers of Sangamon County,
707. Old Settlers' Society of
Sangamon County (Ill.), 1876.
^ John Carroll Power and Sarah A. Power (1876) History of the early
settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois: "centennial record".
^ Blue book of the state of Illinois, pp. 527-528.
Illinois Office of
Secretary of State, 1919.
^ Newton Bateman, Paul Selby, Alexander McLean (1907) Historical
Encyclopedia of Illinois, Volume 1, pp. 519-520.
^ Urias John Hoffman (1906) History of La Salle County,
^ History of Sangamon County, Illinois. Inter-state Publishing
^ Economical geology of Illinois, p. 231.
Illinois State Geologist,
Illinois farmer", Volume 8. p. 119. Bailhache & Baker,
^ Usher F. Linder (1879) Reminiscences of the early bench and bar of
Illinois pp. 60, 316.
^ Yesterday and to-day, p. 7. Chicago and North Western Railroad
^ D. K. Minor, George C. Schaeffer, (1838). "Railways locomotives and
cars", Volume 6, p. 83
^ Weston Arthur Goodspeed, Daniel David Healy (1909) History of Cook
Illinois p. 279.
^ a b c d Report No. 380 to the 50th Congress. February 10, 1888
^ Report No. 2191 to the 50th Congress. May 27, 1890
^ Brown, Ellen (April 8, 2009). "Revive Lincoln's Monetary Policy".
webofdebt.com. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
^ Abraham Lincoln, George Mandeville Van Buren (1890) Abraham
Lincoln's pen and voice, p. 404.
^ William Shepard Walsh (1892) Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities p.
'^ Fergus' Historical Series, Issues 27-30, p. 12., H. W. Beckwith, R.
Fergus, J. D. Kirby, J. A. Kinzie, 1914.
^ Annual Catalogue, p.42. University of Chicago, 1874.
^ The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: v. II, pp. 69, 70.
^ The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: v. II, letters and papers; part I,
April 30, 1831-June 23, 1832, p. 64.
^ The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832, pp. 54, 669.
^ a b
Illinois State Marriage Records. Online index.
Public Record Offices.
^ Year: 1850; Census Place: Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana; Roll:
M432_157; Page: 286A; Image: 576. Seventh Census of the United States,
1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls);
Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National
Archives, Washington, D.C.
^ a b
Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916–1947.
^ Year: 1910; Census Place: Wyoming, Lee, Illinois; Roll: T624_302;
Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0063; FHL microfilm: 1374315.
Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm
publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census,
Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
^ Year: 1870; Census Place: Chicago Ward 12, Cook, Illinois; Roll:
M593_206; Page: 291B; Image: 384483; Family History Library Film:
545705. 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm
publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and
Records Administration, n.d.
^ Early Days in the Village of Mark (Illinois) (Accessed 2 July 2016)
^ Year: 1880; Census Place: La Salle, La Salle, Illinois; Roll: 223;
Family History Film: 1254223; Page: 279A; Enumeration District: 068;
Image: 0079. Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm
publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census,
Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Edmund Dick Taylor: Official Tribute
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Father of the Greenback Original
The Originator of Greenback Currency