Taft and North American Affairs

Taft and North American Affairs

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William Howard Taft confronted three issues that involved Canada and the United States. He was successful in solving two of the three.

  • The Pacific Seal Controversy. Competing claims over rights to hunting pelagic (sea-going) seals in the Bering Sea had long been a matter of contention between Canada and the U.S. The British continued to represent Canada in foreign affairs and had addressed the issue in talks with the Americans, but to no avail. James G. Blaine, secretary of state under Benjamin Harrison, came close to reaching a solution, but various hunting nations were reluctant to limit their rights on the high seas.By the time of the Taft administration, it had become apparent that the herds were in steep decline, due largely to hunting the slower pregnant females. A conference was called in Washington in 1911, drawing together representatives from Russia, Japan, Britain and the United States. An early deadlock slowed progress, but Taft appealed directly to the Japanese emperor and got matters back on track.The North Pacific Sealing Convention of 1911 ended the hunting of pelagic seals. The United States agreed to compensate the hunting nations by sharing a portion of its proceeds from the continuing land kill on the Pribilof Islands. This agreement was honored by the participating nations and the herd’s numbers grew steadily over the next 30 years. Japan pulled out of the convention in 1941, citing heavy damage done to the area’s fisheries by the seals.
  • The North Atlantic Fisheries Question. Rights to fishing in the waters of the Grand Banks was another continuing problem between Canada and the United States. Roots of the dispute reached back to colonial times, but by the early 20th century the Newfoundland fishermen were deeply concerned about the American fleet's growing size, in particular the massive Massachusetts presence.Efforts between British and American diplomats initially yielded nothing, but Elihu Root, as one of his last acts before leaving office in early 1909, pledged the United States to submit the matter to the Hague Tribunal. A decision was rendered in the fall of 1910 that essentially supported the British position. Later, in 1912, Britain and the United States signed an agreement formalizing the Tribunal’s decision. Of greater significance in this accord was the joint decision to maintain an ongoing panel to handle future disputes as they arose, rather than allow issues to fester over a period of years.
  • Reciprocity with Canada. The enactment of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff in 1909 had increased friction between Canada and the United States. The two had successfully negotiated reciprocal trade agreements in the past, but none existed at the time of the Taft administration. Trade talks yielded an agreement that lowered tariffs on many items and placed others on the free list. Western farmers were pleased with the agreement and anticipated an enlarged market for their produce.However, political ineptitude ruined the day. Several American politicians made insensitive remarks about the U.S. relationship with Canada. Speaker of the House Champ Clark unwisely expressed his hope that one day the American flag would fly over all of North America. The Canadians seethed; the treaty was soundly defeated and the negotiating party, the Liberals, was voted out of office in the next election.

William Howard Taft

After graduating (1878) from Yale, he attended Cincinnati Law School. He received his law degree in 1880. He became a Cincinnati lawyer and soon had political posts as assistant prosecuting attorney for Hamilton co. (1881󈞿), assistant county solicitor (1885󈟃), and judge of the superior court of Ohio (1887󈟆). He became nationally prominent as a figure in Republican politics in 1890, when President Benjamin Harrison Harrison, Benjamin,
1833�, 23d President of the United States (1889󈟉), b. North Bend, Ohio, grad. Miami Univ. (Ohio), 1852 grandson of William Henry Harrison.
. Click the link for more information. chose him as U.S. Solicitor General.

After service as a federal circuit judge (1892�) and as dean of the Cincinnati law school (1898�), he was appointed (1900) head of the commission sent to organize civil government in the Philippines, and he was named first civil governor of the Philippine Islands he did much to better relations between Filipinos and Americans. In 1904 his friend President Theodore Roosevelt Roosevelt, Theodore,
1858�, 26th President of the United States (1901𔃇), b. New York City. Early Life and Political Posts

Of a prosperous and distinguished family, Theodore Roosevelt was educated by private tutors and traveled widely.
. Click the link for more information. appointed Taft Secretary of War. Taft became a close adviser to the President and was prominent in Latin American affairs, conducting the delicate negotiations attending U.S. intervention in Cuba in 1906.


Roosevelt chose Taft as his successor, and the Republican party named him as presidential candidate in the election of 1908, in which he defeated William Jennings Bryan Bryan, William Jennings
, 1860�, American political leader, b. Salem, Ill. Although the nation consistently rejected him for the presidency, it eventually adopted many of the reforms he urged&mdashthe graduated federal income tax, popular election of senators, woman
. Click the link for more information. . He was expected to continue Roosevelt's policies, and to a large extent he did. Trusts were vigorously prosecuted under the Sherman Antitrust Act Sherman Antitrust Act,
1890, first measure passed by the U.S. Congress to prohibit trusts it was named for Senator John Sherman. Prior to its enactment, various states had passed similar laws, but they were limited to intrastate businesses.
. Click the link for more information. the Interstate Commerce Commission was strengthened by the Mann-Elkins Act (1910) and Taft's Latin American policy, known as "dollar diplomacy," was to an extent only an enlargement of Roosevelt's Panama policy and the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine Monroe Doctrine,
principle of American foreign policy enunciated in President James Monroe's message to Congress, Dec. 2, 1823. It initially called for an end to European intervention in the Americas, but it was later extended to justify U.S.
. Click the link for more information. . The emphasis in all these policies had, however, changed. In Latin America, for instance, the accent was on protection of property and interests of Americans abroad rather than on national interest. Members of the Republican party who favored progressive policies were increasingly restive, and the Insurgents Insurgents,
in U.S. history, the Republican Senators and Representatives who in 1909󈝶 rose against the Republican standpatters controlling Congress, to oppose the Payne-Aldrich tariff and the dictatorial power of House speaker Joseph G. Cannon.
. Click the link for more information. movement grew strong.

The administration made positive achievements in the inauguration of the postal savings bank (1910) and the parcel-post system (1912), and the creation of the Dept. of Labor (1911). Nevertheless, Taft was generally at odds with the progressive elements in his party: he failed to support the Insurgents' attempt to oust the dictatorial speaker of the House of Representatives, Joseph Cannon Cannon, Joseph Gurney,
1836�, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1903󈝷), b. Guilford co., N.C. A lawyer in Illinois, Cannon served as a Republican in Congress from 1873 to 1923, except for the years 1891󈟉 and 1913󈝻, when first the
. Click the link for more information. he favored the Payne-Aldrich tariff Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act,
1909, passed by the U.S. Congress. It was the first change in tariff laws since the Dingley Act of 1897 the issue had been ignored by President Theodore Roosevelt.
. Click the link for more information. , a high-tariff measure that was denounced by progressive Republicans and he supported Richard Ballinger Ballinger, Richard Achilles
, 1858�, U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1909󈝷), b. Boonesboro (now in Boone), Iowa. He was mayor of Seattle (1904𔃄) and commissioner of the General Land Office (1907𔃇) in 1909, Taft appointed him Secretary of the
. Click the link for more information. against Gifford Pinchot Pinchot, Gifford
, 1865�, American forester and public official, b. Simsbury, Conn. He studied forestry in Europe and then undertook (1892) systematic work in forestry at the Vanderbilt estate in North Carolina.
. Click the link for more information. in the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy.

Meanwhile, Taft's relations with Roosevelt deteriorated, and the former President joined the opposition to Taft. In 1912, Roosevelt fought vigorously for the Republican presidential nomination. When he failed and Taft got the nomination, Roosevelt headed the Progressive party Progressive party,
in U.S. history, the name of three political organizations, active, respectively, in the presidential elections of 1912, 1924, and 1948. Election of 1912
. Click the link for more information. and ran in the election as the Progressive (popularly called the Bull Moose) candidate. The Republican vote was split, and the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson Wilson, Woodrow
(Thomas Woodrow Wilson), 1856�, 28th President of the United States (1913󈞁), b. Staunton, Va. Educator

He graduated from Princeton in 1879 and studied law at the Univ. of Virginia.
. Click the link for more information. , won.

Later Life

Taft retired from public life and taught law (1912󈞁) at Yale. He was cochairman (1918󈝿) of the War Labor Conference in World War I. In 1921, President Harding appointed him chief justice. His chief contribution to the Supreme Court was his administrative efficiency.


Taft's writings include The United States and Peace (1914) and Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (1916). See Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt (1930, repr. 1971) biographies by H. F. Pringle (1939, repr. 1964, 2 vol. 1986), J. I. Anderson (1981), and J. C. Casey (1989) A. T. Mason, William Howard Taft, Chief Justice (1965) P. E. Coletta, The Presidency of William Howard Taft (1973) D. K. Goodwin, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (2013).

Robert A. Taft

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Robert A. Taft, in full Robert Alphonso Taft, (born Sept. 8, 1889, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.—died July 31, 1953, New York, N.Y.), Republican leader in the U.S. Senate for 14 years (1939–53) whose espousal of traditional conservatism won him the sobriquet “Mr. Republican” his failure to receive the presidential nomination in 1948 and 1952 was indicative of the defeat of isolationism by the internationalist wing of the party.

The son of William Howard Taft, 27th president of the United States (1909–13), Taft was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1913. Specializing in trust and utility cases, he also became a director of several successful businesses. During World War I he served as assistant counsel for the U.S. Food Administration (1917–18) and counsel for the American Relief Administration (1919). He then served in the Ohio House of Representatives (1921–26) and in the state senate (1931–32).

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1938, Taft soon established himself as a powerful influence in Washington D.C., denouncing the “socialist trends” of the New Deal and calling for economy in government, a balanced budget, and less centralization of power in the nation’s capital. Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 1941), he was an outspoken anti-interventionist afterward, he threw his weight behind the war effort but was often critical of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s war policies.

With the election of a Republican majority to Congress in 1946, Taft entered a new phase of power and prestige. He was tireless as chairman of the Republican Senate Policy Committee and well informed on the whole range of legislation before Congress. His most notable achievement was the enactment of the Taft-Hartley Labor Relations Act (1947), which placed restrictions on organized labour and, according to its sponsors, sought to balance the bargaining rights of management and labour. Although he sponsored modified social welfare measures in housing, health, and education, he continued to oppose centralization of power in the federal government.

William Taft: Campaigns and Elections

After his 1904 electoral victory, Theodore Roosevelt promised publicly not to seek the presidency again in 1908. While he later regretted that decision, he felt bound by it and vigorously promoted William Howard Taft as his successor. Both Nellie Taft and Roosevelt had to persuade Taft to make the race. Even with the presidency in his reach, Taft much preferred the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice appointment.

It was generally expected that Taft would be Roosevelt's man in the White House, and Taft himself vowed to continue Roosevelt's progressive policies. Still, up to the last minute before Taft's nomination at the Republican Party convention in Chicago, Nellie Taft feared that Roosevelt might announce his bid for a second elected term. It almost happened on the second day of the convention, when a spontaneous and wild demonstration produced a forty-nine minute stampede for Roosevelt—the longest-lasting demonstration that had ever occurred at a national political convention. Only when Roosevelt sent word via Senator Henry Cabot Lodge that he was not available did the convention nominate Taft on the first ballot. The final count gave Taft 702 votes (491 votes were needed to win) in a field of seven nominees. The Democrats once again nominated William Jennings Bryan, the twice-defeated candidate who still personified the populist politics of the Democratic Party and the moral fervor of its "silverite" wing.

At Nellie's urging, Taft announced that he intended to drop thirty pounds off his 300 pound plus weight for the campaign fight ahead. He retreated to the golf course at a resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, where he stayed for much of the next three months. His campaign, once it started, depended heavily upon Roosevelt for speechmaking, advice, and energy. Journalists bombarded the public with jokes about Taft being a substitute for Roosevelt. One columnist explained that T.A.F.T. stood for "Take Advice From Theodore." Nothing could hide Taft's dislike for campaigning and politics. His handlers tried to turn his sluggish style into a positive asset by describing Taft as a new kind of politician—one who refuses to say anything negative about his opponent. For most voters it was enough, however, that Taft had pledged to carry on Roosevelt's policies. His victory was overwhelming. He carried all but three states outside the Democratic Solid South and won 321 electoral votes to Bryan's 162. In the final tally for the popular vote, Taft won 7,675,320 (51.6 percent) to Bryan's 6,412,294 (43.1 percent). Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs won just 2.8 percent of the popular vote, or 420,793.

The Campaign and Election of 1912

After four years in the White House, Taft agreed to run for a second term, principally because he felt compelled to defend himself against Roosevelt's attacks on him as a traitor to reform. The former friends and allies had become bitter opponents. Roosevelt saw Taft as betraying his promise to advance Roosevelt's agenda. He was especially bitter over Taft's antitrust policy, which had targeted one of Roosevelt's personally sanctioned "Good Trusts," U.S. Steel. The former President also felt personally betrayed by Taft's firing of Gifford Pinchot, head of the U.S. forest service and Roosevelt's old friend and conservation policy ally. Certain that Taft would take the party down with him in 1912, Roosevelt was determined to replace him as the 1912 Republican candidate.

After his return to America in 1910 from a big game hunting safari in Africa and a European tour, Roosevelt began to criticize Taft obliquely in speeches which sketched out his "New Nationalism" policies. He argued for the elimination of special interests from politics, direct primaries, and graduated income and inheritance taxes. Roosevelt's platform also advocated a downward revision of the tariff schedule, open publicity about corporate business practices and decisions, and laws prohibiting the use of corporate funds in politics. Additionally, he supported the initiative and referendum process, as well as the conservation and use of national resources to benefit all the people. In contrast to what would become Woodrow Wilson's 1912 political agenda, New Nationalism promised active government supervision and regulation of giant corporations rather than their dissolution. Monopolies would be made to operate in the public interest rather than solely in the interest of their stockholders. Taft considered Roosevelt's ideas hopelessly radical and listened to his conservative supporters—and especially his wife—who vilified Roosevelt as a man bent on destroying the nation and the President.

In the year before the Republican convention, Roosevelt attacked Taft mercilessly and at every opportunity. Several states had established direct primaries, which allowed the people to vote their opinion on a preference ballot for party candidates (though in most of those states, the convention delegates would still be selected by party leaders). By 1912, thirteen states had primary laws: South Dakota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio. Roosevelt's no-holds-barred attack on Taft finally reached a sore point when the former President spoke in favor of the popular recall of judges and judicial decisions on constitutional questions. Taft responded in a speech on April 25, 1912, declaring that a Roosevelt victory would institute a reign of terror similar to that following the French Revolution. Thereafter, the fight became a free-for-all, with Taft hitting back at Roosevelt constantly. The resulting campaign to win the Republican nomination was the first in which a sitting President campaigned in state primaries.

The primary elections showed Roosevelt to be the people's clear choice. Senator Robert LaFollette won North Dakota and Wisconsin while Taft carried New York. Roosevelt, however, carried all other primaries. When the convention opened in Chicago on June 7, Roosevelt had 271 delegates pledged to him compared to Taft's 71—just 80 votes short of a majority. Taft's major advantage as President then came into play: his control of federal patronage. Consequently, he was able to hold the delegates from southern states. In addition, he controlled the Republican National Committee, which decided on any challenges of delegates from the primaries. Most of the states sent two sets of delegates to the convention, and the Republican National Committee—dominated by Taft Republicans—seated all but a few of the Taft-pledged delegates. Three days of confusion followed on the convention floor. The party bosses handed the nomination to Taft with 561 votes to Roosevelt's 187. Forty-one delegate votes were cast for Senator LaFollette.

Having lost the nomination, Roosevelt led his followers out of the convention and formed the Progressive Party. It was quickly nicknamed the Bull Moose Party, in honor of Roosevelt's comparison of himself to a raging bull moose ready for a fight. The new party nominated Roosevelt as its presidential candidate on August 6 in the Chicago Coliseum. The progressive governor of California, Hiram Johnson, was selected as Roosevelt's running mate.

Sensing victory because of the Republican fratricide, the Democrats, nearly delirious with confidence over the mess in the Republican Party, had nominated Woodrow Wilson, the progressive governor of New Jersey, on the forty-third ballot at their convention in Baltimore. They pegged Indiana Governor Thomas Marshall as his running mate. In the campaign that followed, Taft became more conservative as he ran against two challengers, both identified as progressives. In the face of strong criticism from the challengers, Taft tended to retreat to the golf links where he hid away from the public. Understanding that Taft had essentially given up the fight, Roosevelt and Wilson slugged it out in the popular media. Wilson presented his "New Freedom" ideas, which were similar to Roosevelt's "New Nationalism," except that Wilson favored the dismantling of all giant monopolies. Roosevelt visited thirty-four states and won significant public sympathy from a bravura act following an assassin's attack in Milwaukee. After being shot in the chest, the healthy "bull moose" survived to make a scheduled campaign appearance. The bullet had entered his chest but had been deflected from its full force by a fifty page speech in Roosevelt's coat pocket.

On election day, Wilson beat the split Republicans decisively in the Electoral College. Taft carried only two minor states, Utah and Vermont. Wilson compiled 435 electoral votes to 88 for Roosevelt and 8 for Taft. Gauging from the election results, had the Republicans united behind Roosevelt, he probably would have won the election in view of the fact that Taft and Roosevelt won a larger combined popular vote than Wilson. Moreover, when the Roosevelt, Wilson, and Debs votes are combined, the election of 1912 represents a stunning victory for progressivism, or reform, at the national level. Taft's policies had been decisively repudiated by the end of his term.


The Taft–Katsura Agreement consists of the English and Japanese versions of the meeting notes of the conversation between Japanese Prime Minister Katsura and US Secretary of War Taft held in Tokyo on the morning of 27 July 1905. The memorandum detailing these discussions was dated 29 July 1905.

Three significant issues were discussed during the meeting:

  • Katsura's views on peace in East Asia formed, according to him, the fundamental principle of Japan's foreign policy and were best accomplished by a good understanding among Japan, the United States, and Great Britain.
  • On the Philippinea, Taft observed that it was in Japan's best interests to have the Philippines governed by a strong and friendly nation like the United States. Katsura claimed that Japan had no aggressive designs on the Philippines.
  • Regarding Korea, Katsura observed that Japanese colonization of Korea was a matter of absolute importance, as he considered Korea to have been a direct cause of the recently-concluded Russo-Japanese War. Katsura stated that a comprehensive solution of the Korean problem would be the war's logical outcome. Katsura further stated that if left alone, Korea would continue to join improvident agreements and treaties with other powers, which he said to have created the original problem. Therefore, he stated that Japan must take steps to prevent Korea from again creating conditions that would force Japan into fighting another foreign war.

Taft concurred that the establishment of a Japanese protectorate over Korea would directly contribute to stability in East Asia. Taft also expressed his belief that US President Theodore Roosevelt would concur in his views in this regard.

There were three substantive areas of understanding in the conversation. Firstly, Taft said to Katsura that some supporters of Russian in America were publicly claiming that the recent war was a prelude to certain aggression by Japan against the Philippine Islands. Taft stated that Japan's only interest in the Philippines would be to have the islands governed by a strong and friendly nation like the United States. Count Katsura strongly confirmed that was Japan's only interest in the Philippines, and since that was already the case, Japan had no aggressive interest toward the Philippines. [3] Secondly, Count Katsura stated that Japan's policy in East and Southeast Asia was to maintain general peace, which should be achieved by a good understanding between Japan, the United States, and Great Britain. [3]

Thirdly, Count Katsura stated that because Korean autonomy had resulted in Korea improvidently entering into agreements and treaties with other powers, which had been the cause of international complications leading to the war between Japan and Russia. Japan, therefore, felt constrained to preclude any possibility of Korean autonomy. Taft stated that the establishment of a suzerainty of Japan over Korea (the less powerful Korea paying tribute to or being somewhat controlled by the more powerful Japan), with Japanese military troops enforcing a requirement for Korea to enter into no foreign treaties without the consent of Japan, was a logical result of the war and would contribute to permanent peace in the East. Taft also stated that his opinions were his own but that he believed that Roosevelt would concur. [3]

Although there was never a signed agreement or secret treaty, only a memorandum of a conversation, and the conversations were kept secret for 20 years, Roosevelt commented to Taft, "Your conversation with Count Katsura (sic) absolutely correct in every respect. Wish (sic) that you would state to Katsura that I confirm every word you said." [2] [3]

However, there is controversy among historians as to the historic significance of the conversation and as to whether the language of the conversation constituted an actual agreement in Realpolitik (an actual agreement was implied by the use of the language of diplomacy although it was not made explicit as a formal agreement). [1]

The notes of the conversation were discovered in 1924 by the historian Tyler Dennett, [1] who considered the notes to be of first-rate significance and asked permission for publication from Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes. Dennett referred to the notes as "President Roosevelt's Secret Pact With Japan."

The Japanese had just destroyed two thirds of the Russia naval fleet during their war over Korea in 1905. Victory by Japan was clearly imminent. [1] Roosevelt was trying to bring Russia and Japan to peace negotiations. [1]

The United States had obtained control of the Philippines from its war against Spain in 1898. War Secretary Taft stopped by in Japan on his way to the Philippines. [1]

Korean historians (such as Ki-baik Lee, author of A New History of Korea, (Harvard U. Press, 1984) believe that the Taft–Katsura Agreement violated the Korean–American Treaty of Amity and Commerce signed at Incheon on May 22, 1882 because the Joseon government considered that treaty constituted a de facto mutual defense treaty, unlike the Americans. The problem was Article 1: "There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between the President of the United States and the King of Chosen and the citizens and subjects of their respective Governments. If other powers deal unjustly or oppressively with either Government, the other will exert their good offices on being informed of the case to bring about an amicable arrangement, thus showing their friendly feelings."

The agreement has been cited in Korea by some as an example that the United States cannot be trusted with regards to issues of Korean security and sovereignty. [5]

Review Questions

Why did some Central American nations object to Taft’s paying off their debt to Europe with U.S. dollars?

  1. because American currency wasn’t worth as much as local currencies
  2. because they felt it gave the United States too much leverage
  3. because they were forced to give land grants to the United States in return
  4. because they wanted Asian countries to pay off their debts instead

What two countries were engaged in a negotiation that the Lodge Corollary disallowed?

  1. Mexico and Japan
  2. Nicaragua and France
  3. Colombia and Japan
  4. Mexico and Spain

What problems did Taft’s foreign policy create for the United States?

Taft’s policies created some troubles that were immediate, and others that would not bear fruit until decades later. The tremendous debts in Central America created years of economic instability there and fostered nationalist movements driven by resentment of America’s interference in the region. In Asia, Taft’s efforts at China-Japan mediation heightened tensions between Japan and the United States—tensions that would explode, ultimately, with the outbreak of World War II—and spurred Japan to consolidate its power throughout the region.

A New Leader: Paul Fessenden Cruikshank, 1936&ndash1963

In February of the following year, a search committee named Paul Fessenden Cruikshank as Mr. Taft's successor. Cruikshank seemed a perfect fit: a Blair Academy and Yale graduate who had majored in law and history, a past teacher and coach at Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven and at the Gunnery, and founder of the Romford School in nearby Washington, Connecticut. In the summer of 1936 Paul and Edith Fitch Cruikshank and their four children moved in to the Head of School's quarters in Horace Dutton Taft Hall.

Horace Taft gracefully "exiled himself" to California during the first year of his retirement. On his return to Watertown, Taft's new head of school invited Horace to take an active role in the life of the school. In addition to teaching his favorite civil government class, Horace Taft spoke weekly at Vespers and hosted Sunday suppers for seniors at his home. Cruikshank later wrote: "Close as he was to the school and active as he was in its life, he never once offered me gratuitous advice."

While he was a strict and serious head of school known for his unrelenting emphasis on moral standards, respect for authority, and his famous insistence on gray flannels and wingtips over khakis and loafers, Cruikshank believed deeply in the ability of the upperclassman to "regulate" himself so as to find his own balance between work and play. New privileges were extended to seniors and upper middlers even as life was highly regimented, with three compulsory meals each day, daily Vespers, and church on Sundays.

Cruikshank's great legacy was the expansion of the curriculum and the increase in academic standards at Taft. While student enrollment stayed fairly steady at 345 boys between 1930 and 1960, the faculty grew by 50 percent, and the course selection by 200 percent, including the introduction of Advanced Placement courses. In 1961, Cruikshank hired a 20-year-old teacher named Lance Odden. Fresh out of Princeton, Odden began offering a course in Far Eastern history Russian history and Asian studies courses soon followed.

During the 1940s and early ཮s the number of student clubs expanded as well, owing in part to wartime advances in technology and skills. Chemistry, navigation, radio, ski, and outing clubs were founded, while established clubs flourished, including the Triangular Cup debate competitions against arch-rivals Choate and Hotchkiss, as well as other New England Prep School teams.

One of the most exciting and enterprising events of the time took place during the 1949&ndash1950 school year, when hockey coach and math teacher Len Sargent decided to build an artificial ice rink for Taft. After traveling the country on a fundraising trip that summer, he returned to Watertown and mobilized students and faculty to construct the first such facility in the independent-school world, a project that took more than 3,000 hours. After the structure was given a roof, the resulting quantum leap in practice time helped to ensure Taft&rsquos dominance in the prep school ice hockey league for the next decade.

There were many other additions and improvements to the school during the Cruikshank years, including the purchase of faculty houses, construction of a then state-of-the-art science center in 1960, a language lab, the &ldquonew gym,&rdquo and the interior rehabilitation of several of the main buildings.

The boys universally regarded Edith Cruikshank as a gracious, maternal figure. She was known for her tea and cinnamon toast gatherings in the Head of School&rsquos quarters, and appreciated particularly for her special efforts to study the photo and file of each new boy before he arrived on campus in the fall, so she would know every student&rsquos name and something about their background. Her kindliness may have been most appreciated by the youngest members of the community, the eighth graders, until the level was phased out in 1958. As with all head of school&rsquo wives, Mrs. Cruikshank&rsquos job included hosting visiting parents, dignitaries, and athletic teams, and accompanying her husband on frequent school-related travels.

Taft and North American Affairs - History

Robert Taft: Preserving the United States’ Traditional Policy of Neutrality

The progressive threat of Soviet Communism struck fear into the hearts of many people and g overnments during the Cold War. In a collective effort to ensure the safety and security of their peoples, twelve nations from Europe and North America met in Washington, DC on April 4, 1949 to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, “the first peacetime military alliance ever concluded by the United States” (50th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty). In keeping with his inherent moral and political beliefs, Robert Alphonso Taft cast his vote against the North Atlantic Treaty, reaffirming to many the perception that Taft should be identified as an isolationist and to others the notion that he should be revered as one of the most politically courageous politicians of his era.

Taft’s unprecedented vote against ratification appears inevitable when reviewing his past. The son of a president and a Supreme Court justice, Taft was born into politics. While working for the United States’ Food Administration during the First World War, he was sent to Paris to distribute aid to war-stricken Europe, unveiling the horrors of war to the aspiring politician and, perhaps, shaping his views on foreign intervention (Robert A. Taft: More than ‘Mr. Republican’). After his involvement in the War, Taft was elected to the Ohio state legislature where he made a name for himself by opposing Prohibition and denouncing the Ku Klux Klan. In 1938, Robert Taft defeated Robert Bulkley to earn his seat on the United States’ Senate. Taft, again, established himself as a staunch conservative, speaking vehemently against the foreign policy of the Roosevelt administration. By the time the North Atlantic Treaty passed through the Senate chamber, the discontent between the United States and the Soviet Union was enough of a reason to dissolve any party lines to allow universal approval of a treaty that was directly focused on the “development of peaceful and friendly international relations” (The North Atlantic Treaty). However, Robert Taft did not see the North Atlantic Treaty as an opportunity to protect the interests and people of the signatory nations. Instead, he saw it as a rostrum for proffering the need for an anti-interventionist foreign policy that would allow the United States to enter into military engagements only when the security of the nation was threatened, something the North Atlantic Treaty did not permit. While this decision may seem centered on an ulterior agenda, realistically, it demonstrated one of the highest levels of political courage during the Cold War.

One of only eleven Republican Senators to vote against ratification, Taft was at the head of a bold minority who aimed to prevent the tarnishing of the United States’ “traditional policy of neutrality and non-interference with other nations” (Taft 12). The intentions of this minority, however, were dashed on July 21, 1949, when the North Atlantic Treaty would pass through the Senate (NAP). The Treaty was seen as the appropriate response to the threat posed by Soviet Russia, effectively conveying the message that a militaristic advance against any one of the signatory nations “in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all” (The North Atlantic Treaty). In spite of the world reveling in the passage of the Treaty, the Republican Senator from Ohio encountered major scrutiny for his controversial views on foreign intervention.

The negative repercussions of Taft’s adulation of anti-interventionist foreign policy, characterized by his vote against the ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty, were scattered across the remainder of his political career (Bresiger). In 1940, Taft set his sights on furthering his political resume to include not only legislative experience but also experience in the executive branch, specifically as president. Viewed as an irascible, isolationist by the majority of his constituents, he struggled to gain political supporters at the Republican National Convention. In the end, Taft would not gain enough support from the delegates to earn the nomination for the general election. Unwavered, Taft began rapt preparation for the 1948 election. As the National Convention approached, many considered Taft a favorite for receiving the nomination. However, the delegates of the convention passed him over, again, selecting a more liberal candidate in Thomas Dewey (Robert A. Taft: More than ‘Mr. Republican’). A lesser politician would have viewed this second failure as a nudge intended to alter the political beliefs that characterize his career. Taft, however, chose to disregard this sentiment, excepting the fact that he could’ve been adding his name to a list of Senators who would “endanger or end their careers by resisting the will of their constituents” (Kennedy 23). Taft continued his efforts to secure the Republican nomination in the 1952 election. Yet, matched against the internationalists of the Eisenhower campaign, Taft struggled, yet again, to gain traction and support for his exceedingly conservative, anti-interventionist platform. The Republican party would select Eisenhower as their candidate for the general election, furthering Taft’s drought to three years without a nomination (Robert A. Taft: American Politician).

Robert Taft’s effort in promoting rejection of the North Atlantic Treaty characterized him as a beatnik defiant to the political pressures “which drive a Senator to abandon or subdue his conscience” (Kennedy 4). A storied Senate career saw Taft develop into a courageous nonconformist, willing to risk the furtherance of his career by standing against traditional foreign policy. As a result of his vote against internationalists, Taft never achieved his ultimate goal in politics, the presidency. However, he also never had to experience the subsequent consequences of sacrificing his moral and political beliefs for the sake of satisfying other politicians. Instead, Taft reveled in his choice to unconditionally support the beliefs that he held close to his heart, something only a truly, politically courageous Senator is capable of doing.

Bresiger, Gregory. “Robert Taft and His Forgotten ‘Isolationism’.” Mises Daily Articles, Mises Institute, 8 March 2014, mises.org/library/robert-taft-and-his-forgotten-“isolationism”.

Kennedy, John F. Profiles in Courage. HarperCollins Publishers, 2003.

“NAP. Resolution of Ratification (⅔ Majority Required).” GovTrack, 21 July 1949, www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/80-1947/s40.

“Robert A. Taft: American Politician.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 24 October 2003, www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-A-Taft.

Taft, Senator Robert A. A Foreign Policy for Americans. Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1951.


Although he supported the Open Door notes as an excellent economic policy in China, Roosevelt lamented the fact that the United States had no strong military presence in the region to enforce it. Clearly, without a military presence there, he could not as easily use his “big stick” threat credibly to achieve his foreign policy goals. As a result, when conflicts did arise on the other side of the Pacific, Roosevelt adopted a policy of maintaining a balance of power among the nations there. This was particularly evident when the Russo-Japanese War erupted in 1904.

In 1904, angered by the massing of Russian troops along the Manchurian border, and the threat it represented to the region, Japan launched a surprise naval attack upon the Russian fleet. Initially, Roosevelt supported the Japanese position. However, when the Japanese fleet quickly achieved victory after victory, Roosevelt grew concerned over the growth of Japanese influence in the region and the continued threat that it represented to China and American access to those markets ([link]). Wishing to maintain the aforementioned balance of power, in 1905, Roosevelt arranged for diplomats from both nations to attend a secret peace conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The resultant negotiations secured peace in the region, with Japan gaining control over Korea, several former Russian bases in Manchuria, and the southern half of Sakhalin Island. These negotiations also garnered the Nobel Peace Prize for Roosevelt, the first American to receive the award.

When Japan later exercised its authority over its gains by forcing American business interests out of Manchuria in 1906–1907, Roosevelt felt he needed to invoke his “big stick” foreign policy, even though the distance was great. He did so by sending the U.S. Great White Fleet on maneuvers in the western Pacific Ocean as a show of force from December 1907 through February 1909. Publicly described as a goodwill tour, the message to the Japanese government regarding American interests was equally clear. Subsequent negotiations reinforced the Open Door policy throughout China and the rest of Asia. Roosevelt had, by both the judicious use of the “big stick” and his strategy of maintaining a balance of power, kept U.S. interests in Asia well protected.

Browse the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to follow Theodore Roosevelt from Rough Rider to president and beyond.

William Taft / William Taft - Key Events

William Howard Taft takes the oath of office, becoming the twenty-seventh President of the United States. Taft had been handpicked by his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, and trusted to carry through Theodore Roosevelt's progressivism. Not surprisingly, Taft makes many references to his “distinguished predecessor” in his inaugural address. Nevertheless, a newfound chill had arisen between the two men, mirroring the frigid temperatures in the capital that day.

A special session of the United States Congress convenes to consider revision of the tariff. On March 16, Taft sends a special message to Congress urging prompt revision of the tariff.

Robert E. Peary reaches the North Pole.

Helen “Nellie” Taft suffers a stroke, leaving her speech impaired. Her recovery lasts approximately one year.

Delivering a message to Congress, Taft proposes a two-percent tax on the net income of all corporations except banks, which he believes will make up for revenue lost by tariff reductions. He also proposes that Congress adopt a constitutional amendment that would permit the collection of personal federal income taxes.

The Senate passes a resolution calling for a Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, authorizing Congress to collect income taxes.

Taft cables the Chinese regent Prince Chun, requesting that China grant American investors a share of a loan that had been floated in Europe for the purposes of building a railroad in southern China. The Chinese reluctantly grant the United States investment privileges.

Taft signs the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act, which establishes a Tariff Board and reduces the tariff.

President Taft begins a tour of the southern and western states of the United States.

While on a tour of the United States, Taft calls the Payne-Aldrich Act “the best” tariff bill ever passed by the Republican Party, leaving both Republican progressives and party regulars dismayed.

Taft visits Mexican dictator Porfirio DÌaz at El Paso, Texas, and at Juarez, Mexico.

Taft returns from his trip across the United States, having made 259 speeches. An observer in Winona, MN comments about Taft, “I knew he was good natured but I never dreamed he was so dull.”

Louis Glavis, chief of the Field Division of the Department of the Interior, charges in Collier's Weekly magazine that Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger conspired to defraud the public domain in the Alaskan coal fields and that the Taft administration was complicit in Ballinger's wrongdoing.

Taft orders two U.S. warships to Nicaragua in response to the deaths of 500 revolutionaries, and two of their American advisors, at the hands of Nicaragua dictator José Santos Zelaya. The further threat of American force convinces Zelaya to retire on December 16.

Special government prosecutor Frank Kellogg wins a Court of Appeals case against Standard Oil, which is ruled a monopoly and in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Taft appoints General Leonard Wood as Chief of Staff of the Army. He also elevates circuit judge Horace H. Lurton to the Supreme Court.

Taft fires Gifford Pinchot, head of the United States Forest Services, upon the release of a letter Pinchot had written to Senator Dolliver of Iowa on behalf of two of his employees implicated in the Glavis case. Pinchot was a leading conservationist and one of the most recognizable officials in the federal government.

Secretary of State Philander Knox tours Central and South America on a good-will mission.

Representative George Norris, a progressive Republican from Nebraska, wins a major procedural victory in the House of Representatives when that body approves a plan by which the members of the House Rules Committee would be elected by the full House, rather than appointed by the Speaker of the House. This represented a major defeat for Speaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon (R-IL), a leading opponent of the progressives.

President Taft appoints Governor Charles E. Hughes of New York to the Supreme Court.

At a congressional investigation into the Glavis-Ballinger dispute, attorney Louis Brandeis, representing Glavis, reveals damaging information about the Taft administration. Congress clears Ballinger and the Taft administration of any wrongdoing, however.

Taft obtains an injunction to prevent western railroads from raising freight rates. Taft was a fervent anti-trust supporter whose unrelenting anti-trust crusade outmatched even that of Teddy Roosevelt.

Taft elects not to greet Theodore Roosevelt upon the latter's return from Africa, a move that widens the rift between the two men.

TR declines Taft's invitation to the White House but praises the President's progress on a number of fronts, including railroad legislation, a postal savings bill, and conservationism.

Congress passes the Mann Act, also known as the “white slave traffic act,” which prohibits the interstate or international transport of women for “immoral purposes.”

Taft signs the Postal Savings Bank Act, which allowed one bank in each state, under federal supervision, to give two percent interest on accounts under $500.

TR returns and delivers the most radical speech of his political career at Osawatomie, Kansas. In his “New Nationalism” speech, Roosevelt outlines a new role for the government in dealing with social issues. His program takes American progressivism in a new direction, endorsing conservation, control of trusts, labor protection, and a graduated income tax. It also embraces the growing conviction that the nation must address the plight of children, women, and the underprivileged.

Taft rejects a proposed dinner, given by the National Conservation Congress, that would honor both himself and TR.

The International Court of Arbitration at The Hague settles a dispute between Britain and the United States over the Newfoundland fisheries.

Taft, in a letter to his brother, comments that Roosevelt “has proposed a program ("New Nationalism") which it is absolutely impossible to carry out except by a revision of the federal Constitution. In most of these speeches he has utterly ignored me. His attitude toward me is one that I find difficult to understand and explain.”

At the New York State Republican Convention in Saratoga, New York, Taft supports Roosevelt's choice for governor of New York, Henry Stimson.

The National Urban League is formed in New York. Its mission is “to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity and power and civil rights.”

Taft appoints Willis Van Devanter to the Supreme Court to replace Justice William Moody.

In congressional elections, Democrats win control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1894, gaining a 228 to 162 to 1 majority. In the Senate, Republicans hold a 51 to 41 advantage.

Taft appoints Associate Justice Edward White as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in January, Taft would also appoint Joseph R. Lamar to the Supreme Court.

Wisconsin Senator Robert LaFollette establishes The National Progressive Republican League in Washington, D.C.

The United States and Great Britain sign a treaty guaranteeing the preservation and protection of pelagic fur seals in Bering Sea waters.

Taft appoints a commission to investigate postal rates for newspapers and magazines its report helps to convince Congress that a recent rate increase was justified.

Taft orders the mobilization of 20,000 American soldiers along the Mexican border after American ambassador to Mexico Henry Lane Wilson reports that the safety of Americans residing in Mexico may be endangered.

Taft appoints Walter Fisher, an ally of Gifford Pinchot, as Secretary of the Interior to replace Richard Ballinger, who resigned.

Taft appoints Henry Stimson secretary of war to replace Jacob Dickinson.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Company bursts into flames in Manhattan. Women who worked in very cramped and unsafe conditions stampeded toward inadequate exits 146 women would die, some even leaping to the pavement hoping to survive. The tragedy highlights the need to provide social justice for immigrant sweatshop workers, and the New York legislature responds by undertaking remedial legislation to ensure better working conditions and provide fire safety measures.

The U.S. Supreme Court orders the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company.

Standard Oil Company Dissolved

On May 15, 1911, Chief Justice Edward White issued the Supreme Court's majority opinion upholding the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company. White agreed that the Standard Oil Company's business practices did violate the Sherman Antitrust Act because they were anticompetitive and abusive. However, he muted the circuit court's breakup plan for the company, allowing Standard Oil six months to spin off its subsidiaries instead of the initial three months mandated.

After the circuit court of St. Louis initially ruled against the Standard Oil Company, the company's lawyers prepared their appeal to the Supreme Court. With the support of President William Taft, Attorney General George Wickersham and prosecutor Frank Kellogg presented the government's case in January 1911. Mimicking Kellogg's successful argumentation in front of the St. Louis circuit court, they claimed that Standard Oil's consolidation of the petroleum industry through its trust company and its enormous size restricted interstate trade and produced a monopoly as outlawed in the Sherman Antitrust Act. Standard Oil lawyers countered that the circuit court's decree for the breakup of the company violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment that guaranteed freedom of contract and right to property. The company's lawyers also claimed that the oil trust was beyond the constitutional reach of the Sherman Act because the corporation engaged in production, not commerce.

The way Chief Justice White interpreted the Sherman Act altered the vague sweep of the legislation. The Sherman Act was worded to outlaw every single contract or arrangement that resulted in a restriction of trade. White added a rule of reason test-a centuries-old principle of common law-to his interpretation of the act. If the restrictions of trade produced by a trust were reasonable, that is, did not infringe on individual rights or the public good, then the judiciary need not dissolve the trust through the arbitrariness of the Sherman Act. Only if a trust unreasonably interfered with commerce in a way that damaged the American economy could it be dissolved. White's extraneous interpretation of the Standard Oil case considered the possibility of trusts to be socially beneficial. It also allowed the judiciary to be the ultimate arbitrator to what was a “reasonable” infringement of commerce by a corporation, a principle Justice Harlan claimed violated the intent of the Sherman Act's authors.

President Taft supported the decision, claiming it was not a dramatic departure from previous cases. The President had little ideologically invested in the Standard Oil case and actually supported industrial combinations. The case had been former President Theodore Roosevelt's idea and the centerpiece of his popular trust-busting campaign. Taft could not afford to break with Roosevelt on the case and so he supported the prosecution of Standard Oil for his own political gain. Taft praised the decision while progressives and Democrats attacked White's reason test.

President Porfirio DÌaz of Mexico resigns.

The Supreme Court finds the American Tobacco Company in violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act and orders its dissolution.

The United States signs a treaty with Nicaragua which would have made that nation a U.S. protectorate. The Senate later rejects the treaty.

Senator Robert LaFollette, a progressive from Wisconsin, announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Taft signs the Canadian Tariff Reciprocity Agreement.

Taft signs general arbitration treaties with France and England. Roosevelt, along with his friend and ally Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, lead the campaign in opposition to the treaties.

Taft vetoes tariff reductions on wool and woolen goods, arguing that the Tariff Board had not completed its investigation.

In the Canadian parliamentary elections, reciprocity with the United States is defeated, killing the treaty signed earlier in the year by the United States and Canada.

Taft tours the western United States to drum up support for his arbitration treaties with England and France. In March 1912, the Senate will approve the treaties, which are rejected by Britain and France.

Taft files suit against U.S. Steel for violating the Sherman Act. In papers filed for the suit, Taft alleges that Roosevelt in 1907 had mistakenly let U.S. Steel purchase the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company. This action damages the Taft-TR relationship irreparably.

Francisco Madero, a wealthy landowner, assumes office after being elected President of Mexico.

Andrew Carnegie founds the Carnegie Corporation with an initial endowment of $125,000,000.

New Mexico is admitted as the forty-seventh state.

Taft urges the adoption of an annual federal budget.

American troops occupy Tientsin, China, to protect American interests from the Chinese Revolution.

Arizona is admitted as the forty-eighth state.

President Taft nominates Mahlon Pitney for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Pitney is confirmed by the Senate and takes his oath on March 13.

Theodore Roosevelt announces that his “hat is in the ring” as a candidate for President. Taft and running mate James S. Sherman are re-nominated together, the first time that Republicans endorse a sitting President and vice president for the party ticket.

The Justice Department begins proceedings to halt the merger of the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads.

Dr. Harvey Wiley, Head Chemist at the Department of Agriculture, resigns because of differences with Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson. Wiley was a chief proponent of safe food and drug laws.

Mrs. Taft plants the first of the cherry trees in Washington, D.C., given to the United States by Japan as a symbol of international friendship, along the Tidal Basin of Potomac Park.

Taft signs a bill authorizing the creation of the Children's Bureau in the Department of Commerce. The agency is charged with monitoring child welfare.

The British luxury liner Titanic sinks off the coast of Newfoundland. Taft's key aide, Archie Butt, perishes in the tragedy.

President Taft appoints Julia Lathrop head of the newly-created Children's Bureau. She is the highest ranking woman in the U.S. government.

American Marines land in Cuba to ensure order under the Platt Amendment.

Taft wins the Republican presidential nomination over Theodore Roosevelt. James Sherman is re-nominated for vice-president. The bitter primary campaign between TR and Taft featured a thorough discussion within the Republican Party on the issue of government regulation.

Congress passes a labor law authorizing an eight-hour working day for all workers with federal contracts.

The Democratic Party nominates Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey as its candidate for President. Thomas Marshall of Indiana is nominated as vice president.

TR is nominated for President by the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party. Hiram Johnson of California is nominated for vice president on the ticket.

U.S. battleships are sent to Nicaragua to protect American economic interests and rail lines.

Taft signs the Panama Canal Act, which exempts American coastwise shipping from paying tolls when transiting the Panama Canal. Many Americans, as well as Britons, consider this a violation of the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty of 1901.

U.S. Marines are sent to restore order in Santo Domingo.

Vice President John Sherman dies, and Nicholas Butler, the president of Columbia University, replaces him on the Republican presidential ticket.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson defeats Taft and TR in the 1912 presidential election. Wilson wins the electoral college with 435 votes to TR's 88 and Taft's 8. In the popular vote, Wilson defeats TR by over 2 million votes, and Taft by almost 3 million, but TR musters the best third-party showing in history with 27 percent of the popular vote. In congressional elections, Democrats take a majority in the Senate, 51-44-1. In the House, Democrats enjoy a 291-127-17 lead.

On November 5, 1912, President William Taft was defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the presidential election of 1912. The three-way race between Taft, Wilson, and former President Theodore Roosevelt illustrated the rise of progressivism in presidential politics. Although Roosevelt's Progressive Party had one of the strongest third-party showings in American history, he and Taft divided the Republican Party vote, and Wilson easily won the election.

Before President Theodore Roosevelt left office in 1909, he hand-picked William Taft as his successor and worked to get him elected. But once Taft became President, Roosevelt became increasingly disenchanted with his successor. He felt Taft was not progressive enough, turning his back on environmental conservation and targeting so-called good trusts. Enraged by his protégée's tenure, Roosevelt decided to challenge him for the Republican nomination in 1912.

The Republicans met in Chicago in June 1912, hopelessly split between the Roosevelt progressives and the supporters of President Taft. Roosevelt came to the convention having won a series of preferential primaries that put him ahead of the President in the race for party delegates. Taft, however, controlled the convention floor, and his backers managed to exclude most of the Roosevelt delegates by not recognizing their credentials. These tactics enraged the former President, who then refused to allow himself to be nominated, paving the way for Taft to win on the first ballot.

Roosevelt and his supporters bolted the Republican Party and reconvened in Chicago two weeks later to form the Progressive Party. Roosevelt became the Progressive Party candidate for President, and Governor Hiram Johnson of California joined the ticket as Roosevelt's running mate. Roosevelt electrified the convention with a dramatic speech in which he announced that he would “stand at Armageddon and battle for the Lord” and declared that he felt “as strong as a Bull Moose,” thus giving the new party its popular name.

At the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore at the end of June, Speaker of the House James “Champ” Clark entered as the favorite to gain the party's nomination after a strong showing in the primaries against New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson. Democrats engaged in an intense struggle over the nomination, however, prompted by William Jennings Bryan's criticism that Clark's machine base was too close to big business. Wilson secured the nomination on the forty-sixth ballot of the convention. His selection over the more moderate, less charismatic Clark ensured the Democrats a vibrant, progressive-minded candidate to challenge the vim of Roosevelt and overshadow Taft. Democrats nominated Thomas R. Marshall of Indiana for the vice presidency.

Unlike many proceeding campaigns, which boiled down to contests of personality or character, the election of 1912 remained essentially a campaign of ideas. Wilson and Roosevelt emphasized their progressive ideologies on the campaign trail. Wilson devised the “New Freedom” appellation for his campaign, emphasizing a return to individualism in industrial enterprise encouraged by the end of tariff protection, the breaking up of Wall Street's control of financial markets, and vigorous antitrust prosecution. Wilson believed federal power should be used to break up all concentrations of wealth and privilege, disagreeing with Roosevelt that monopolies could serve a common good through their efficiency.

Roosevelt built his “New Nationalism” campaign on the back of ideas he had been advocating since his return to public life in 1910, including strengthening federal regulatory control over interstate commerce, corporate conglomeration, and labor conditions. President Taft emphasized how his brand of conservatism offered practical solutions to tangible problems facing Americans. He chided the idealism of his opponents as dangerous to the constitutional system. Socialist Eugene V. Debs joined the triumvirate with his campaign more focused on socialist education for American voters than success. Debs urged the public ownership of transportation and communication networks, progressive income and corporate taxes, and a rigorous worker protection laws.

With the Republican Party badly split between its conservative and progressive wings, neither Taft nor Roosevelt rightfully expected victory in November. The election yielded the Democratic Party its greatest victory since before the Civil War as it gained both houses of Congress and the presidency. The popular vote was more an endorsement of progressivism than of Wilson as he and Roosevelt combined for nearly 70 percent of the ballots cast. Wilson failed to win a majority of the popular vote, earning 41 percent of the popular vote to Roosevelt's 27 percent. Taft finished with 23 percent of the vote, and Debs made a considerable showing with 6 percent. Taft won only two states in the Electoral College: Vermont and Utah. Roosevelt carried progressive strongholds California, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Michigan, but could not contend with Wilson's enormous success in his home region of the South and his wins in key Northern states such as New York and Wisconsin. Wilson carried 435 of 531 votes in the Electoral College to become the nation's twenty-eighth President.

Further Reading

Studies of Taft are legion and include innumerable magazine and newspaper articles covering not only his own long career in Cincinnati and Washington but also much about his youth and family heritage. The student of Taft, however, should be directed to the large collection of his papers in the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress and to these studies: William S. White, The Taft Story (1954) Russell Kirk and James McClellan, The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft (1967) and particularly James T. Patterson, Mr. Republican: A Biography of Robert A. Taft (1972). Taft himself authored two books, A Foreign Policy for Americans (1951) and (with Congressman T. V. Smith of Illinois) Foundations of Democracy: A Series of Debates (1939), which provide insights into his thinking. □

Watch the video: Westward Expansion: Crash Course US History #24


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