Scope and arrangement
The collection spans the years 1834-1889, and consists of 10 boxes of personal and family papers, and 316 boxes and 1200 Letterbooks and account books which document Taylor's affairs as merchant, banker, and industrial-capitalist.
They also shed light on the economic arrangements, social relationships, and managerial methods favored by Taylor in the anthracite coal country of eastern and central Pennsylvania where he built a nucleus of industrial companies that grew into a nationwide network. The evidence of his estate, estimated at between $40,000,000 and $45,000,000, and wide-ranging stock portfolio, testify to Taylor's significance as a merchant-capitalist. Though not comparable in size, capital, diversity, or influence, to the empires of a J. P. Morgan or a Cornelius Vanderbilt, as a model 19th century capitalist enterprise (Hodas, Moses, The Business Career of Moses Taylor, New York University, 1976. Hodas writes: "Taylor's evolution from small merchant to banker-industrialist illustrates the contribution one can make to a nation's economic growth. As a leading banker, Taylor headed financial institutions which aggregated the savings of individuals and channeled them into productive areas. He also had the capacity to make the kind of developmental decisions that were essential to continued economic expansion. His continuous merging of enterprises into larger units in order to increase their efficiency and profitability was a forerunner of the rationalization of American industry that took place at the turn of the century") Moses Taylor and Company holds up well.
The Moses Taylor papers are arranged in seven series:
Correspondence and business records, 1834-1889. This series relates chiefly to trade in the West Indies (principally Cuba) in staple products, such as sugar and its popular derivatives, rum and molasses, and cotton, tobacco, spices, iron, railroad equipment and supplies, and other manufactured commodities. Included in the records are mercantile reports, shipping accounts, labor accounts, ships' manifestoes and log books, vessel and cargo insurance books, cargo books. The correspondence, about half of it in Spanish and French, is with commercial envoys and agents, planters, factors, bankers, shipbuilders, shipping agents, ship's captains, and others involved in the complex trading network. This series also contains material that relates to the activities of Taylor, his partners, and associates, field agents superintendents, engineers, and others, primarily in the railroad, iron ore, coal, and gas industries. Connected to the sugar trade, but arranged separately, is material relating to the Cuban Independence Movement (See Series V) of 1868-1878 led by landowners and bankers.
Estate Papers of Moses Taylor, consisting of correspondence, letterbooks, and assorted papers, 1882-1900; the estate papers of his father, Jacob Bloom Taylor, include a ledger and journal, 1853-1882; personal correspondence and accounts, 1860s-1870s, of Moses Taylor's son, Henry A. C. Taylor; and other family papers.
Letters, 1863-1888; copies of letters; 1873-1878; copies of letters to General Manuel Quesada, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, and others, 1869-1876; account book, 1873; clippings; diario de las operacions, Matanzas; financial records; petty cash books; 1869-1878; receipt book, 1870;.
Many of the companies in this series pre-date or post-date Taylor and his firm. It is not known how the records of these merchants came to be in the collection. The bulk of the records in this series are those of Levi Coit, Coit & Smith, and William Coit, from 1796 through 1844. These merchants may have been associates of Taylor's father. In view of their names, however, it is more likely that they were related to Henry Augustus Coit, Taylor's former agent in the Cuban sugar trade, who may have inherited their records and stored them in his space in Taylor's South Street office. Some of the firms may have been Taylor's tenants.