Book of Biographies: Seventeenth Congressional District, Pennsylvania (Buffalo, NY: Biographical Publishing Company, 1899), 274-276; also: Biographical Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania (BEP), Charles Robson, ed. (Philadelphia: Galaxy Publishing Co., 1874), 162-163; also: Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J.L. Floyd & Co., 1911), 10; also: Book of Biographies, 275-76; also: Coleman, 130; also: List of Officers of the Army of the United States from 1779 to 1900, comp. Colonel William Powell (New York: L.R. Hamersly and Co., 1900), 620.
A self-professed Whig-American, David Taggart was born in Northumberland on May 28, 1822, the son of brewer and Canal Commissioner John Taggart and wife Hannah Huston Taggart; granddaughter of Revolutionary War hero, state legislator, and Senate clerk Matthew Huston. David attended common schools and eventually read law with Ebeneezer Greenough after attending Dickinson and the Milton “tuition” Academy. In 1843, he became a member of the Northumberland County bar. David opened a law practice in the town of Northumberland shortly after, also pursuing banking and publishing interests. He married Anna P. Cowden of Bucks County on May 5, 1848, preceding his election to the Senate of Pennsylvania. Arriving to the Senate in 1854, he became Speaker in 1857. Taggart voted the Whig line, supporting high-tariffs, public education, the PRR’s tonnage tax exemption, the condemnation of Southern states’ dogged campaign to promote the growth of slavery, and remained fiscally conservative regarding state expenditures.
Senator Taggart served as a delegate to the 1848 Whig National Convention and chairman of the 1852 state convention. With the emergence of the Union-Republican Party, he proved an indispensable ally of Simon Cameron’s, representing a driving force behind the new Republican boss’s bid for a U.S. Senate seat. As a delegate, he attended the 1856 Chicago Republican Convention, presided over the 1859 and 1860 Republican State Conventions, repeatedly surfaced as a candidate for state governor, and delivered an Electoral vote for Lincoln in 1860.
Taggart emerged as one of two caucus selections for governor during the intriguing 1860 state Republican nominating convention, a hard-fought battle principally between David’s mentor Cameron and liberal Republican Andrew Curtin. To weaken Curtin’s chances for nomination, Cameron induced Taggart and John Covode to declare as nominees. Cameron believed that votes for the two men would dilute Curtin’s final tally, leaving Cameron’s lieutenant as the final victor. Despite Simon’s political mischief, Curtin ultimately received the nomination and later became Pennsylvania’s 1860 governor. The incident widened an already irreparable breach between the Republican Party’s Cameron and Curtin camps.
David served as the president of the Pennsylvania State Agriculture Society, remained a career officer in the United States Army, and served as a local school director.Regarding federal military service, the senator received a Cameron commission as a major and paymaster in 1861. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1865, Taggart remained in the service until 1873. Described as a man of “commanding presence, great physical strength, and exuberant humor,” the Honorable David Taggart died in Northumberland County on June 30, 1888.