Lawrence Taliaferro (pronounced tol'-i-ver) was born in King George County, Virginia. He served in the War of 1812 as a volunteer in the Virginia militia. After joining the regular army, the 1st United States Infantry Regiment, he was appointed to the rank of ensign.
After the war, Taliaferro remained in the army and became an Indian agent. Between 1820 and 1839 he served in that capacity working out of Fort Snelling, in the free territory of Wisconsin, present-day Minnesota.
Lawrence Taliaferro is known for having a black slave named Harriet Robinson. While Taliaferro was stationed at Fort Snelling, Harriet met Dred Scott, a slave owned by John Emerson, a surgeon in the U.S. Army. Taliaferro, a justice of the peace at the time, officiated at the marriage of Scott and Robinson.
In 1837 Lawrence Taliaferro presided over the Treaty of St. Peters between the Dakota and the United States.
Taliaferro, following his career in the army, moved east to Bedford County, Pennsylvania. He was a resident of Bedford Borough in the year 1840. In 1847 he served as Treasurer for the county.