Home About Chat Users Issues Party Candidates Polling Firms Media News Polls Calendar Key Races United States President Senate House Governors International

"A historical political resource." 
Email: Password:

  Taft, William Howard
<-  1922-01-01  
NameWilliam Howard Taft
Cincinnati, Ohio , United States
Born September 15, 1857
DiedMarch 08, 1930 (72 years)
Last ModifedRBH
Mar 22, 2021 12:57pm
Tags Caucasian - English - Married - NRA - Unitarian - Straight -
InfoDistinguished jurist, effective administrator, but poor politician, William Howard Taft spent four uncomfortable years in the White House. Large, jovial, conscientious, he was caught in the intense battles between Progressives and conservatives, and got scant credit for the achievements of his administration.

Born in 1857, the son of a distinguished judge, he graduated from Yale, and returned to Cincinnati to study and practice law. He rose in politics through Republican judiciary appointments, through his own competence and availability, and because, as he once wrote facetiously, he always had his “plate the right side up when offices were falling.”

But Taft much preferred law to politics. He was appointed a Federal circuit judge at 34. He aspired to be a member of the Supreme Court, but his wife, Helen Herron Taft, held other ambitions for him.

His route to the White House was via administrative posts. President McKinley sent him to the Philippines in 1900 as chief civil administrator. Sympathetic toward the Filipinos, he improved the economy, built roads and schools, and gave the people at least some participation in government.

President Roosevelt made him Secretary of War, and by 1907 had decided that Taft should be his successor. The Republican Convention nominated him the next year.

Taft disliked the campaign–“one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life.” But he pledged his loyalty to the Roosevelt program, popular in the West, while his brother Charles reassured eastern Republicans. William Jennings Bryan, running on the Democratic ticket for a third time, complained that he was having to oppose two candidates, a western progressive Taft and an eastern conservative Taft.

Progressives were pleased with Taft’s election. “Roosevelt has cut enough hay,” they said; “Taft is the man to put it into the barn.” Conservatives were delighted to be rid of Roosevelt–the “mad messiah.”

Taft recognized that his techniques would differ from those of his predecessor. Unlike Roosevelt, Taft did not believe in the stretching of Presidential powers. He once commented that Roosevelt “ought more often to have admitted the legal way of reaching the same ends.”

Taft alienated many liberal Republicans who later formed the Progressive Party, by defending the Payne-Aldrich Act which unexpectedly continued high tariff rates. A trade agreement with Canada, which Taft pushed through Congress, would have pleased eastern advocates of a low tariff, but the Canadians rejected it. He further antagonized Progressives by upholding his Secretary of the Interior, accused of failing to carry out Roosevelt’s conservation policies.

In the angry Progressive onslaught against him, little attention was paid to the fact that his administration initiated 80 antitrust suits and that Congress submitted to the states amendments for a Federal income tax and the direct election of Senators. A postal savings system was established, and the Interstate Commerce Commission was directed to set railroad rates.

In 1912, when the Republicans renominated Taft, Roosevelt bolted the party to lead the Progressives, thus guaranteeing the election of Woodrow Wilson.

Taft, free of the Presidency, served as Professor of Law at Yale until President Harding made him Chief Justice of the United States, a position he held until just before his death in 1930. To Taft, the appointment was his greatest honor; he wrote: “I don’t remember that I ever was President.”


DateFirmApproveDisapproveDon't Know
06/13/2007-06/24/2007 Rasmussen Reports 57.00% ( 0.0) 15.00% ( 0.0) 28.00% ( 0.0)

Title Purchase Contributor
Taft 2012: A Novel  Purchase RP 

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor

Importance? 10.00000 Average

Wife Helen Herron Taft Jun 19, 1886-Mar 08, 1930
Son Robert A. Taft 1889-1953
Grandson William Howard Taft, III 1915-1991
Grandson Robert Taft, Jr. 1917-1993
Daughter Helen Herron Taft Manning 1891-1987
Son Charles P. Taft II 1897-1983
Grandson Seth Taft 1922-2013
Father Alphonso Taft 1810-1891
Brother Charles Phelps Taft 1843-1929
Niece Jane Ingalls 1874-1962
Brother Henry Peters Taft 1859-1945
Nephew Walbridge J. Taft 1884-1951
Mother In-Law Harriet Collins Herron 1833-1902

President William Howard Taft Inaugural Address March 4, 1909  Discuss
William Howard Taft - Address on the Tariff Law of 1909 (November 17, 1909)  Discuss
William Howard Taft - First Annual Message (December 7, 1909)  Discuss
William Howard Taft - Fourth Annual Message (December 3, 1912)  Discuss
William Howard Taft - Second Annual Message (December 6, 1910)  Discuss
William Howard Taft - Special Message on Canadian Reciprocity (January 26, 1911)  Discuss
William Howard Taft - Third Annual Message (December 5, 1911)  Discuss
  06/30/1921 Supreme Court - Chief Justice Won 93.85% (+87.69%)
  07/01/1916 US President - R Primaries Lost 0.00% (-23.58%)
  06/10/1916 US President - R Convention Lost 0.81% (-54.20%)
  04/25/1916 NJ US President - R Primary Lost 1.75% (-59.36%)
  04/11/1916 IL US President - R Primary Lost 0.03% (-90.12%)
  10/10/1913 Nobel Peace Prize Lost 0.00% (-100.00%)
  01/13/1913 US President Lost 1.51% (-80.41%)
  11/05/1912 US President National Vote Lost 23.18% (-18.66%)
  06/27/1912 US President - R Convention Won 51.58% (+18.65%)
  06/04/1912 US President - R Primaries Lost 34.59% (-16.54%)
  06/04/1912 SD US President - R Primary Lost 15.86% (-39.36%)
  05/28/1912 NJ US President - R Primary Lost 40.47% (-15.86%)
  05/21/1912 OH US President - R Primary Lost 39.49% (-15.83%)
  05/14/1912 CA US President - R Primary Lost 27.32% (-27.27%)
  05/06/1912 MD US President - R Primary Lost 47.29% (-5.43%)
  04/30/1912 MA US President - R Primary Won 50.43% (+2.11%)
  04/19/1912 NE US President - R Primary Lost 16.90% (-42.37%)
  04/19/1912 OR US President - R Primary Lost 28.52% (-11.66%)
  04/13/1912 PA US President - R Primary Lost 40.33% (-19.34%)
  04/06/1912 NV US President - R Primary Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  04/02/1912 WI US President - R Primary Lost 26.09% (-47.13%)
  03/26/1912 NY US President - R Primary Won 66.43% (+32.87%)
  03/19/1912 ND US President - R Primary Lost 3.14% (-54.04%)
  01/11/1909 US President Won 66.46% (+32.92%)
  11/03/1908 US President National Vote Won 51.58% (+8.53%)
  06/19/1908 US President - R Convention Won 71.63% (+64.69%)
  06/04/1908 US President - R Primaries Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  02/01/1904 Secretary of War Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  07/04/1901 Philippines Governor Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  02/01/1890 Solicitor General of the United States Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
US President - R Convention - Jun 10, 1916 R Charles Evans Hughes