M. Harvey Taylor was born at Bailey’s Row, Harrisburg, June 4, 1876, the son of Central Iron Company “roller” and “catcher,” Welshman, Maurice (Morris, Morys, Maris) and Kate A. Taylor. Harve dropped out of school in 1888 to work as a laborer for his father’s employer, a position he retained for 24 years. He married Bertha May Shertzer of Shipoke in 1897. Taylor replaced his father as a Republican candidate for the Harrisburg School Board, finding another political niche on the 1907 city council. After his first municipal victory, Harvey adopted Teddy Roosevelt’s Bullmoose Republican platform, a move that cost him re-election to council in 1915. An insurance agency and a cigar shop owner by 1914, Harve evolved into a dedicated career politician by World War I, successfully campaigning for the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds position in 1919, and Chief County Clerk before 1925. In the latter year he rejoined the city council, serving for three consecutive terms thereafter. Taylor gained control of the Dauphin County Republican Committee in 1931, campaigning as M. Harvey Taylor, “Honorable, Honest, and Upright.” A cordial associate of Joe Grundy’s, Taylor became GOP state committee chair in 1934, with the full support of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. After a frustrated attempt for election as the Commonwealth’s secretary for internal affairs during the 1936 New Deal sweep, Taylor returned as GOP state chair for 16 years. He became a 65 year-old freshman state senator in November 1940, serving to December 1, 1964; honored as President pro tempore from 1945 until retirement, except the 1961-62 biennial session. Taylor’s advantageous dual position as a state party chairman and upper-house member manifested itself as GOP insurance against passage of any undesirable Democratic legislative agenda. He became an integral part of the Republican Senate’s efforts to derail portions of the former Earle administration’s Little New Deal, killed income tax initiatives, formulated new (pro Republican) reapportionment plans, and for the moment, aided pro tem Charles Ealy’s plan to terminate the first General State Authority.
Affectionately known to friends as “Pop,” Taylor had profound reverence for the office he served. Governor William Scranton noted that Taylor was not respected as much for his political ideology – “he had none” – but for his unswerving support of the “institutional” Senate and its membership. He typified the stalwart Republican, who had little time for ideologues, once remarking: “Give me a reformer and I’ll give you a taker.”Harve, nevertheless, managed the upper house with fairness and commanded the respect of both sides of the aisle. The senator’s major legislative contributions to Harrisburg and Dauphin County included the construction of the Harvey Taylor Bridge, the modern Capitol Park, the State Archives and Museum, the development of Fort Indiantown Gap, the present governor’s mansion, and Harrisburg’s $850,000 Zembo Mosque in 1929. Taylor founded Harrisburg’s Tuesday Club and remained a close counselor and correspondent to major Republican figures after his 1964 Senate retirement. Those associates included the Scrantons, Governor Richard Thornburgh, Presidents Nixon and Ford, and a host of other celebrities. Maris Harvey Taylor passed away on May 15, 1982, signaling the end of a political career that began with his participation in the 1896 President McKinley victory parade.