William Taft

Taft was Roosevelt's chosen successor. He believed in a more liberal form of Presidential power than that of his predecessor. This partially explains why Taft was constantly caught in a struggle between the progressives and the conservatives.Elected 1908


The Early Years

William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Taft had an active childhood and he was an avid baseball player. Taft was educated in the public schools of Cincinnati for elementary and high school. He went on to attend Yale University, were he graduated second in the class of 1878. Upon graduation, Taft returned to Cincinnati were he attended law school. He was admitted to the bar in 1880.

Taft's first job upon completion of law school was Assistant Prosecutor of Hamilton County. In 1887, Taft was appointed Judge on the Cincinnati Superior Court. Taft served as U.S. Solicitor General from 1890 to 1892 and then as Judge on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court. From 1896 to 1900, Taft was also a professor of law and then dean of the Cincinnati Law School.

In 1900, Taft was appointed Commissioner of the Philippines. It was his job to insure the establishment of civil administration in the Philippines, which the United States had just acquired in the Spanish-American War. From 1901 to 1904, Taft served as the Governor General of the Philippines. From 1904 to 1908, Taft was Secretary of War in the Roosevelt administration.


Accomplishments in Office

Taft became President after Roosevelt. While agreeing with the overall policies of the Roosevelt administration, Taft felt that the power of the Presidency had been extended too far by the previous administration. Taft exerted his power to a much lesser degree. Often that was deemed by the progressive Roosevelt supporters as an abandonment of principles. Thus a major rift developed in the Republican party.

Taft was committed to lowering tariffs, and when elected, he called Congress into a special session to this end. Congress succeeding in reducing the average tariff from 46 to 41 percent. However, special interest groups managed to raise the tariff on several items. Taft was an avid enforcer of the anti-trust policies of the Roosevelt administration. He repeatedly instituted the number of anti-trust suits brought against monopolist corporations. During his term of office, two of the biggest monopolies were broken - Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company. Under Taft, the federal government for the first time began the regulation of the telephone and telegraph industries. The government also obtained the authority to fix interstate commerce rates.

Taft maintained an activist approach to foreign policy. On one hand, he was the initiator of what became known as Dollar Diplomacy, in which the United States used its military might to promote American business interests abroad. Taft defended his Dollar Diplomacy as an extension of the Monroe Doctrine. Taft was a major supporter of arbitration as the most viable method of settling international disputes.

After his defeat in the election of 1912, Taft went on to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a position he found more satisfying than the Presidency.


The First Family

Father: Alphonso Taft
Mother: Louisa Maria Torrey
Wife: Helen Herron
Daughter: Helen
Sons: Robert Alphonso, Charles Phelps


Major Events

Robert Perry Arrives At North Pole

Dollar Diplomacy

NAACP Founded

Triangle Fire

Standard Oil Broken

Marines Intervene In Nicaragua

Lodge Corollary

The Cabinet

Secretary of State: Philander Knox
Secretary of the Treasury: Franklin MacVeagh
Secretaries of War: Jacob Dickinson, Henry Stimson
Attorney General: George Wickersham
Secretary of Navy: George von Meyers
Postmaster General: Frank Hitchcock
Secretaries of the Interior: Richard Ballinger, Walter Fisher
Secretary of Agriculture: James Wilson
Secretary of Commerce and Labor: Charles Nagel



US intervened in Nicaragua

US intervened in the Dominican Republic


Did You Know?

First President to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

First cabinet member (other than Secretary of State) to become president.

First President to open a baseball season.

Inaugural Address