BECK index

United States & Taft 1909-13

by Sanderson Beck

William Howard Taft to 1899
Taft in the Philippines 1900-03
Taft in the Roosevelt Administration 1904-09
United States & Taft in 1909
United States & Taft in 1910
United States & Taft in 1911
United States, Taft & Elections 1912-13

William Howard Taft to 1899

      William Howard Taft was born on 15 September 1857 in a fashionable suburb of Cincinnati. His father Alphonso Taft was a lawyer and had been a delegate at the first Republican National Convention in 1856, and he supported the Union during the Civil War. He was a superior court judge 1866-72. During Grant’s last year as President he was Secretary of War for 75 days in 1876 and then US Attorney General from May 22 to the end of the term in 1877.
      Will Taft was brought up as a Unitarian, and he attended a public high school in Cincinnati that sent students to college. He went to Yale College in 1874 and was a champion heavyweight wrestler. His father in 1832 at Yale had co-founded the secret Skull and Bones society, the Brotherhood of Death, and Will became a member. He was most influenced by William Graham Sumner who taught political and social science. Sumner lectured on the ideas of Herbert Spencer and became a social Darwinist. Will Taft studied Theodore Dwight Woolsey’s Introduction to International Law, and he graduated second in his class from Yale in 1878. In his senior oration he criticized the political corruption of the Republican Party and the centralization caused by the Civil War. He believed that wealth was the “great civilizer and source of a nation’s happiness.”
      Taft graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1880. He passed the bar exam, and The Cincinnati Commercial newspaper gave him a full-time job covering local trials. In 1881 he worked as an assistant prosecuting attorney. In January 1882 President Chester Arthur made him a Collector of Internal Revenue in Cincinnati, and Taft supervised over a hundred employees in collecting $10 million on sales of whiskey and tobacco. Yet he refused to give political favors, and in March 1883 he went to Washington and resigned. He became a partner with his father’s former law partner. In 1884 Taft campaigned for the Republicans, presidential candidate James Blaine, and Joseph Foraker who was running for governor. Taft found Helen “Nellie” Herron intellectually stimulating, and he married her on 19 June 1886.
      Ohio’s Gov. Foraker in 1887 selected Taft to be a judge on the Ohio Superior Court, and in April 1888 he was elected for a five-year term. At this time Taft was prejudiced toward those with property and against workers which can be seen from the following decision:

In Moores & Company v. Bricklayers Union No. 1 (1890),
Taft displayed not only an unyielding position
in favor of capital over labor, but he also
chose to embrace a double standard of social morality.
The dispute involved a secondary boycott by bricklayers
who refused to handle any materials
brought to the building site by various suppliers
until their grievances were satisfied.
One such supplier, Moores, sued the union for damages.
Taft ruled that a secondary boycott was illegal,
thereby upholding a lower court decision.
But he went beyond the rule of law
in handing down his opinion,
arguing that malice was the motivation of the bricklayers.
He could have arrived at that judgment only
based on his private attitude toward the labor movement,
relative to which he had deep suspicions
that privately tended to demonize union leaders.1

Yet he recognized that employees had “the right to organize into or to join a labor union which should take joint action as to their terms of employment.” He explained, “If they stand together, they are often able, all of them, to command better prices for their labor than when dealing singly with rich employers.”2 He even wrote that union officers could order members “on pain of expulsion from their union, peaceably to leave the employ of their employer because any of the terms of their employment are unsatisfactory.”3 His verdict upheld the ruling of the lower court that awarded the plaintiffs $2,250, and the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with Taft’s decision.
      Judge Taft in the case of Voight v. Baltimore decided that the Baltimore Railroad was liable for a worker’s permanent injuries that their negligence caused even though a contract denied that obligation. The Supreme Court reversed that because of the contract, but in 1908 President Roosevelt signed a law banning such oppressive contracts.
      In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison made Taft the US Solicitor General. Taft argued before the US Supreme Court on behalf of the US Government in 27 cases and won 20 of them. In his second year he upheld the McKinley tariff, and he persuaded the Court to accept House Speaker Reed’s method of counting a quorum to prevent the minority from obstructing legislation. His best case in 1891 involved fishing in the Bering Sea where the United States claimed jurisdiction and seized Canadian revenue cutters inside the 3-mile limit. Britain took the case to the US Supreme Court, and Taft contended that the judicial branch could not order the executive branch to stop the use of revenue cutters because of the constitutional separation of powers. On 29 February 1892 both sides agreed to arbitration by neutrals, and on 15 August 1893 the British sealers were awarded $473,151.
      Taft lived in Washington very near Theodore Roosevelt who was on the Civil Service Commission, and they became good friends who shared political ideals. In March 1892 Taft was appointed a federal appeals judge in Cincinnati, and he resigned as Solicitor General. He held that appellate position for eight years.
      On 23 April 1893 Taft ruled in Toledo & Ann Arbor & North Michigan Railway Company v. Pennsylvania that a worker’s quitting was illegal if it was part of a combination because it violated the Interstate Commerce Act. In the depression in the winter of 1893-94 the Pullman Palace Car Company had reduced wages by about 25% and dismissed many men. After Pullman declined arbitration, the American Railway Union (ARU) led by Eugene Debs on 26 June 1894 began a boycott against all Pullman cars. On July 2 federal judges Peter Grosscup and William Woods in Chicago imposed a broader injunction than Taft had against Debs and the strikers. Taft showed his contempt for striking workers by ruling that the ARU was applying a secondary boycott against innocent railway companies when strikers refused to operate any train that had a Pullman car. On July 3 President Cleveland sent soldiers to end the strike in Chicago. Taft had granted the Cincinnati Southern railroad’s suit for an injunction, and he had Frank Phelan, a Debs lieutenant, arrested on July 3. Taft wrote to his wife Nellie on

July 6, 1894: Affairs in Chicago seem to be much disturbed.
It will be necessary for the military to kill some of the mob
before the trouble can be stayed.
July 7, 1894: The situation in Chicago is very alarming
and distressing and until they have had much bloodletting,
it will not be better….
July 8, 1894: The Chicago situation is not much improved.
They have only killed six of the workers as yet.
July 9, 1894: This is hardly enough to make an impression.
The strike situation is very bad.
The workingmen seem to be in the hands
of the most demagogic and insane leaders
and they are determined to provoke a civil war.4

Frank Phelan worked closely with Eugene Debs who called for a general strike on July 11. In the Thomas v. Cincinnati, N.O. & T.P. Railway case on July 13 Taft sentenced Phelan to six months in jail because he had disregarded the injunction by urging railway employees to join a general strike against the Pullman Company. Phelan denied having incited anyone to use violence, but Judge Taft imputed “secret terrorism” to his words.
      Taft was elected president of the Cincinnati Civil Service Reform Association, and he was made a trustee of Yale College. His wife Nellie helped him improve his speeches. She also cofounded the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and they gave their first concert series in 1895. In 1896 Taft became the Dean of the Cincinnati Law School and Professor of Property.
      In Addyston Pipe and Steel Co. v. United States that was decided on 8 February 1898 Taft argued based on the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that Addyston had restrained trade by fixing prices, and this challenged the decision by the US Supreme Court in the 1895 United States v. E. C. Knight case. The US Supreme Court on 4 December 1899 agreed with Taft that corporate rights were not sacrosanct.

Taft in the Philippines 1900-03

      In January 1900 President McKinley asked Taft to serve on a civil commission in the Philippines and implied he might be its president. War Secretary Elihu Root challenged Taft to take the position,

Now your country needs you.
This is a task worthy any man.
This is the parting of the ways.
You may go on holding the job you have
in a humdrum, mediocre way.
But here is something that will test you;
something in the way of effort and struggle
and the question is,
will you take the harder or the easier task?5

Taft wanted to be on the US Supreme Court and asked how it would affect his judicial career. McKinley promised that if a seat became open on that Court, he would appoint him. Taft said he would accept if he was head of the commission. The other members of the Second Philippine Commission were General Luke Wright, the lawyer Henry C. Ide who had been chief justice of Samoa, the zoologist Dean Worcester who was on the first Philippine Commission, and the history professor Bernard Moses who became a key advisor.
      Taft spent $2,300 for books on civil law, history, and government to take with him. The Commission left San Francisco on April 17 and reached Japan in May, and Taft’s wife and children stayed in Yokohama to avoid the summer heat of the Philippines. At Tokyo they met the Emperor of Japan, but Taft was not impressed. The commissioners arrived at Manila Bay on June 3, but General Arthur MacArthur was not there to greet them. Taft went to the other side of the world as the first American proconsul. He hoped that the Filipino people could be educated so that they could be the first self-governing people in East Asia, but in fact the 65,000 American troops occupying their country had been preventing that. General MacArthur had arrived on May 5 as the new military governor. He was less aggressive than his predecessor General Elwell Otis, and MacArthur had granted a general amnesty.
      The Military Governor MacArthur lived in Malacanan Palace which had been used by the Spanish governors. Taft found a house he could rent for $150 a month that needed to be cleaned and given plumbing. He brought with him four Chinese servants he had hired at Hong Kong who were a cook, a laundryman, and two houseboys. President McKinley’s instructions to this Philippine Commission were actually written by Secretary of War Root with assistance by Taft. Judge Ide contributed the idea that the Commission should control appropriations.
      Taft sent letters to Root complaining about MacArthur. The Commission took power on September 1, and Taft had control of the funds. The US Constitution was to be applied except for the rights to a jury trial and to bear arms. Qualified Filipinos were encouraged to hold offices, and Taft looked forward to establishing popular assemblies. Under the US President the Secretary of War Root was the final authority over the Military Governor and the Civil Commission. According to the Presidential instructions the Commission was

designed not for our satisfaction,
or for the expression of theoretical views,
but for the happiness, peace, and prosperity
of the people of the Philippine Islands,
and the measures adopted should be made to conform
to their customs, their habits, and even to their prejudices,
to the fullest extent consistent with the accomplishment
of the indispensable requisites
of just and effective government.6

The first duty of the Commission was to establish local governments “in which natives of the islands, both in the cities and in the rural communities, shall be afforded the opportunity to manage their own local affairs.”7 Yet slavery among the Moro tribes would continue. Schools were to be organized that would be open to all. Because there were so many languages with few people knowing Spanish, English was to be the official language. The Military Governor remained in charge of law enforcement. Taft complained when MacArthur’s military superintendent of education ordered 50,000 history books sight unseen for the schools. On August 21 Taft spent $4,000 to send a confidential cable to War Secretary Root that was signed by all the commissioners. They noted that insurgents had been cleared out of northern Luzon and that customs collections had increased by 50% since the Spanish rule. The poor were being taxed more, and the wealthy were protected.
      On September 1 the legislative powers were transferred from the military governor to the Civil Commission enabling them to revise taxes, appropriate funds, and establish lawcourts. McArthur had a fund of $2,500,000 collected mostly from customs taxes, and the Commission gained control of that. Having met with William Jennings Bryan, Taft was concerned that the Democratic nominee was promising the Filipinos their independence and that that was encouraging the rebels. The insurgents attacked American troops twice in September and again in October. Former insurgents were required to swear their allegiance, renounce “revolutionary governments,” and obey the “supreme authority of the United States.” So far about 5,000 Filipinos had taken the amnesty oath in a country of seven million people. By the end of 1900 the Civil Commission had revised taxes, and they established municipal governments with civil service.
      In January 1901 President McKinley and War Secretary Root commended Taft, and they asked him to organize a new civil government. On January 29 Taft wrote to Root that concerns over increasing violence were exaggerated and that more Filipinos were taking the oath. Commissioners in February began traveling to provinces to organize municipal governments. Taft and others made speeches. The Spooner Amendment by the US Congress attached to an Army appropriation in late February declared the Filipino insurrection over and transferred authority from the military to the Civil Commission. On March 10 Commissioners with sixty people left Luzon for the southern islands to visit 18 provinces, and they returned on May 3. On March 23 the US Army captured the rebel leader Aguinaldo, and he took the oath of allegiance on April 19. The Commission warned armed insurgents that their funds and property would be confiscated after April 1, and they would not be eligible for government positions.
      On 4 July 1901 Cayetano Arellano, the Chief Justice of the Philippines Supreme Court, administered the oath to Taft inaugurating him as the first Civil Governor of the Philippines, and General Chaffee replaced MacArthur as the commander of the Philippines. Taft said that his goal was to develop a permanent civil government that was more popular. His speech was translated into Spanish, and he announced that they would add three Filipinos to the Civil Commission. He had wanted five Filipinos including Aguinaldo, but the other commissioners outvoted him. Wright became Secretary of Commerce and Police; the Secretary of Finance and Justice was Ide; Moses was Secretary of Public Instruction; and Worcester became the Secretary of the Interior. The three Filipino commissioners were educated and had some wealth, and none of them advocated independence or even more self-rule. In late 1900 the new commissioners Benito Legarda and T. H. Pardo de Tavera had helped organize the Federal Party that was loyal to the United States and hoped for statehood. Within a year there were 25,000 Federals in Manila.
      On July 5 the Tafts moved into the Malacanan Palace that also had several houses for secretaries and assistants. Taft’s salary was $20,000, and he needed it for his expenses. He interviewed Filipinos using a translator. He and his wife Nellie were determined not to treat them as an inferior race which the military often did. The Tafts called them “our little brown brothers,” and they invited them as social equals to their home reception on Wednesdays. American soldiers made fun of this by singing, “He may be a brother of William H. Taft, but he ain’t no friend of mine!”8
      Governor Taft ordered schools established to promote literacy, clinics to improve health care, roads built to help commerce, local governments organized to teach self-rule, and land reform to give more farmers a chance. Because the Philippines had several thousand islands, the congress of a federation could include many representatives. The Commission revised the old Spanish tax code. The judges under the Spanish rule were replaced by Americans, and Taft asked for upright lawyers with at least ten years of experience who have a sufficient knowledge of Spanish. Some judges were Filipinos so that they could learn how to administer justice. Because very few Filipinos were literate, he considered jury trials impractical. Frederick W. Atkinson became the Secretary of Education, and in the coming years more Filipinos learned English than Spanish. Other bureaus that formed were Health, Forestry, Agriculture, and Customs. Taft welcomed the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Insular Cases of 1901 that the Dingley Tariff did not extend to the Philippines because he believed it would harm the economy. After attending a cockfight he asked General MacArthur not to forbid them because the people enjoyed them.
      Taft went on a provincial tour to mountains and the northwest coast of Luzon, and this affected his health. News of McKinley’s assassination in September shocked people, and violence in the Philippines increased.
      On September 17 the new US President Roosevelt published an article in Outlook writing that Taft was a good Governor of the Philippines because he would be “a first-class President of the United States” and “a first-class Chief Justice of the United States.”9 In late September fifty American soldiers were killed by an ambush in Samar. In October there were nearly 500 American military posts in the Philippines. On October 2 Taft came down with dengue fever.
      On October 26 Roosevelt advised Taft to accept a nomination to the US Supreme Court; but he declined because he felt it was his duty to help the Filipino people during an economic crisis. The Military Governor Chaffee refused to serve a writ of habeas corpus for a prisoner, and an appeal was sent to President Roosevelt who wired Taft and Chaffee to settle it themselves. Taft in December returned to Washington for a third operation to remove an abscess in his intestines.
      By the 1890s the Catholic Church and Spanish friars had over 400,000 acres in the Philippines, and they charged excessive rents to more than 60,000 tenants. Nearly 90% of Filipinos were Catholics. After the insurgency against the Spaniards began in 1896, Aquinaldo confiscated their lands. They killed fifty priests, imprisoned hundreds, and tortured many of them. In the treaty with Spain when the United States acquired the Philippines, all property rights were guaranteed. The Philippine Commission decided to purchase the friars’ lands and to replace the Spanish friars with other Catholic priests. Taft suggested American priests.
      The Filipino lawyer Felipe Calderon in October 1900 told the Commission that Aguinado had declared that the lands of the Spanish friars were forfeited. A Filipino physician explained that the clerics raised funds by telling dying Filipinos that they would go to hell if they did not donate their wealth or lands to the Catholic Church. In December 1900 Taft wrote,

The truth is that the friars ceased to be religious ministers
altogether and became political bosses,
losing sight of the beneficent purpose of their organizations.
They unfrocked themselves in maintaining
their political control of this beautiful country.
Distance from Rome and freedom from supervision
made them an independent quantity and enabled them
to gratify their earthly desires for money and power
and other things, and they cut themselves off
from any right to consideration by the church,
by those who are in the church,
or by those, who being out of it, respect it.10

      In January 1902 Taft testified for two hours to a US Senate committee on charges against American soldiers in the Philippines, and he admitted that they bothered him. He advised them that they needed a treaty with the Vatican in order to do land reform in the Philippines. Roosevelt sent Taft to Rome to negotiate with Pope Leo XIII on the sale of 400,000 acres in the Philippines that were held by Spanish friars. This issue had provoked a Filipino rebellion prior to the American intervention.
      Taft in February met with President Roosevelt, War Secretary Root, and Archbishop John Ireland. The President ordered Taft to go to Rome, and Root advised him to consider it a business matter. Root wrote that they should extinguish the titles of the friars and provide “full and fair compensation.” On June 5 Taft met with Pope Leo XIII at the Vatican and proposed buying the property and replacing the Spanish friars. On June 21 the cardinals agreed to sell the land, but they did not promise to remove the friars. Finally in November 1903 about 10,000 acres were withdrawn from the sale, and the US paid $7,543,000 for the rest. American and Filipino bishops were appointed, and the 200 hundred who remained had no political power.
      Taft and the Philippine Commission enforced the Philippine Organic Act that the US Congress passed on 1 July 1902. When some prominent Filipinos tried to start a law-and-order party that was not subservient to the United States, Taft refused to authorize that.
      In 1902 and 1903 disease and famine devastated the Philippines. Cholera killed over 100,000 Filipinos, and rinderpest reduced the number of beasts of burden by 75%. The US Congress passed a tariff that gave the Philippines a rate 25% lower than the products of other countries. Taft asked the Congress to provide at least $2 million to relieve the Philippines.
      On 6 January 1903 Taft received a letter from President Roosevelt who wrote that he was going to put him on the Supreme Court and that General Wright would replace him as the Civil Governor. On January 10 Filipinos gathered outside the gates to the Malacanan Palace with the banner “Queremos Taft!” which means “We want Taft!” About 8,000 people listened to speeches. Dr. Dominador Gomez said that Governor Taft was a saint who could unite all the factions in the islands. The revolutionary Pedro Paterno said that Taft had “turned a dying people to the light and life of modern liberties.”11 The other members of the Commission cabled President Roosevelt that the Filipino people “have absolute confidence in Taft.” Roosevelt cabled Taft, “All right, you shall stay where you are.”12
      Taft in March suffered from amoebic dysentery, and he learned that some Americans were dishonest and had stolen money. He prosecuted them, and all but two were sent to prison. On March 27 Taft received a letter from Roosevelt that Secretary of War Root was going to leave in the fall and that he could persuade him to stay a year if Taft would take his place. He said he needed Taft “not merely as secretary of war, not merely as director of the affairs of the Philippines, but as my counselor and advisor in all the great questions that come up.”13 Roosevelt in September ordered Taft to return to Washington. Taft agreed to become Secretary of War, and he left Manila on 23 December 1903.

Taft in the Roosevelt Administration 1904-09

      On 6 January 1904 William Howard Taft met with Emperor Meiji of Japan, and he learned from him, other Japanese officials, and the US minister Lloyd Griscom that war was likely between Japan and Russia. Taft arrived in Washington on January 27, and the 15th Cavalry escorted him to the War Department. He became the Secretary of War on February 1. The next day Charles Taft wrote to his brother Will, who was concerned about the low salary of a cabinet officer that was only $8,000. Charles gave Will 1,000 shares of Cleveland Gas Company stock that were worth $200,000 which provided $10,000 a year. Taft often had lunch or dinner with President Roosevelt, and they talked almost every day. Taft developed good relations with members of Congress, and he spent more time there than the rest of the cabinet.
      On March 4 Taft persuaded Roosevelt to postpone paying the $4 million for the Panama Canal, and Roosevelt in May directed Taft to supervise the building of the canal. Taft calculated that the excavation would move a mass greater than ever before. Because he wanted the liberal Amador to stay in power, Taft imposed a 10% ad valorem tax on all products coming into Panama through the two ports that the Americans were controlling.
      On June 29 Taft began with a two-hour speech to the Harvard Law School alumni in a debate on the Philippines with Senator Richard Olney, the former Democratic Secretary of State.
      Secretary of State John Hay died on July 1, and Roosevelt replaced him with Elihu Root on July 19. Roosevelt, Taft, and Root worked together closely, and they thought of themselves as the “Three Musketeers” who were “all for one and one for all.”
      On August 28 Taft to help Roosevelt spoke to 1,500 people at Montpelier, Vermont to influence their September election, and in Portland, Maine he gave his first speech without notes. On October 1 he began the Republicans’ campaign in Ohio by opening the event at Warren attended by about 2,000 people.
      Roosevelt was easily elected on November 8, and the Republicans gained 45 seats in the House of Representatives and lost only one in the Senate retaining a 56-31 advantage. Taft went to the Panama Canal Zone, and on November 27 he met with the Republic’s first president, Dr. Manuel Amador, who was in the Conservative Party. General Estaban Huertas on October 28 had demanded that two of Amador’s conservative ministers resign. Taft noted that the threat to use US forces caused Huertas to disband his army a few days before Taft arrived. Panama had two main ports at Panama City and Colon that were not under the jurisdiction of the United States so that the revenues went into the treasury of the Republic of Panama. Building supplies came in free of duty.
      At first Taft believed that a sea-level canal would be best in the long run even though it would cost $247,021,000 instead of $139,705,200 for a canal with locks, and it would take at least 12 years compared to 8 years for a locks canal. On January 13 Roosevelt asked the US Congress to reduce the commissioners from seven to three as requested by Chief Engineer John F. Wallace. This would go into effect on 1 April 1905.
      In March 1905 Roosevelt declined to work with Germany to keep an open door with Morocco, and he left for a hunting trip. Taft on April 5 expressed his concern that the French were involved with Morocco’s open door and that Germany had interests there. On April 6 Taft wrote to Roosevelt about the English and their hostile relationship with Germany.
      On the night of the San Francisco earthquake on 16 April 1906 Taft learned of a telephone call to the White House, and he quickly approved the use of $2,500,000. He ordered $1,000,000 in army property shipped including tents and other supplies. The US Congress soon confirmed his actions.
      Roosevelt returned to Washington on May 11 and began working as his own secretary of state. He decided that the lock canal would be better, and the US Congress approved that in June 1906. The chief sanitary officer William Gorgas was determined to stop the spread of mosquitoes in order to prevent a yellow fever epidemic, but the chief engineer Wallace neglected the safety protocols that he deemed experimental. When yellow fever broke out, most of the American workers left. Gorgas asked for more authority. Roosevelt trusted Taft who supported Gorgas and persuaded Wallace to resign on June 28. Taft returned to Washington the next day, and Roosevelt had him release to the press the transcript of his conversation with Wallace. Taft made five trips to Panama as Secretary of War, and he would make two more as President.
      In July 1905 Taft had led a delegation of 30 influential Congressmen and 50 others on a visit to the Philippines. On July 27 he met with Japan’s Premier Taro Katsura, and he agreed that Japan could take over Korea. Four days later President Roosevelt wired his confirmation of that. On August 5 Taft gave a speech at the Malacanan Palace. He respected the Filipinos and their “aspirations to become a self-governing people and a nation,” though he believed it would take a long time.
      Taft on December 1 weighed 321 pounds, and he began a diet supervised by Dr. Yorke-Davis of London. By the middle of March 1906 his weight was down to 266, and during the summer he weighed 250 pounds. He went on a speaking tour from Ohio west to Idaho and back through Kansas to Louisiana. Roosevelt especially praised his speech at Bath, Maine on September 6.
      Taft worked for two years to get a tariff bill to reduce rates on imports from the Philippines, and in January 1906 the US House of Representatives passed it 257-71. Taft testified to the Senate committee on the bill for two days, but protectionists blocked the bill in the committee.
      The Cuban elections in 1905 had been faulty. Tomás Estrada Palma’s Moderates had added 150,000 names, and the Liberals had withdrawn from the ballots. After Cuban President Palma’s inauguration in March 1906 Havana began reporting strife, and it increased in the summer. Palma admitted he could not protect people or property. On September 10 he requested American troops, and three days later he said he would resign. On the 15th Taft told Secretary of State Root “that the Cuban government has proven to be nothing but a house of cards.”14 On the same day Taft advised Roosevelt to consult Attorney General Moody on the treaty. On September 19 Roosevelt replied he would not submit to Moody nor would he ask Congress for permission.
      On that day Secretary of War Taft and the Acting Secretary of State Robert Bacon arrived in Havana at the request of Palma. They learned that 15,000 armed men were threatening Palma’s regime. Roosevelt did not want Taft to intervene or at least not use the word “intervention” or “to do it in as gentle way as possible.” Taft asked Palma to stay in office, but he insisted on resigning. On September 28 Palma’s government collapsed, and the next day Taft proclaimed himself the provisional governor of an interim government in Cuba. On October 3 Taft wired Roosevelt that he justified his action by the Platt Amendment. Roosevelt sent 6,000 troops who occupied the island. They came not to fight but to “provide a background of confidence.”15 Insurgents began turning in their arms. Taft made a speech at the National University of Havana urging students to found businesses and acquire wealth to develop their society.
      Charles E. Magoon succeeded Taft in Cuba on October 13. They took a census and revised the election laws. In the first elections in 1907 a poll found that a majority of the Cuban voters wanted independence. The Commissioners then required parties to have a nationalistic plan in their platforms. The American troops eventually withdrew on 28 January 1909 as the Liberals took power in Cuba.
      In March 1907 Taft began seeking the presidential nomination by hiring A. I. Vorys to manage his campaign in Ohio. In July he wrote to Roosevelt’s secretary William Loeb asking for a list of Republican national committeemen from the South so that it could be sent to Vorys. Charles Dewey Hilles was going to be working for Taft in New York. Although Senator Foraker opposed Taft, on July 30 the Ohio Republican State Central Committee voted 15 to 6 to endorse Taft’s candidacy. Taft decided not to comment on the Brownsville controversy, but after his inauguration in March 1909 one of his first official acts was to advise army courts of inquiry to readmit the dismissed Negro infantrymen.
      Taft in September 1907 traveled west making speeches, and then he went to the Philippines. Roosevelt was concerned about immigration issues involving the Japanese in Hawaii and California, and Taft visited Japan again and was given a dinner in Tokyo on September 30. Taft said,

There is nothing in these events of injustice that cannot
be honorably and fully arranged by ordinary diplomatic
methods between the two governments conducted
as they are by statesmen of honor, sanity and justice….
War between Japan and the United States
would be a crime against modern civilization.
It would be as wicked as it would be insane.16

On October 14 Taft sent a wire from Manila assuring that the conflicts in California were caused by sensational journalism and did not represent American sentiment. He agreed with the Japanese who objected strongly to any treaty that would restrict the Japanese emigration while admitting Europeans.
      Taft departed from the Philippines and went north to Vladivostok to the Trans-Siberian Railway. In Moscow he met with Tsar Nicholas II; but he avoided Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II because he did not want to make the French and the British jealous. He boarded the USS President Grant at Hamburg and returned to the United States to run for President.
      On December 25 Taft wrote in a private letter to C. M. Heald,

I agree heartily and earnestly in the policies
which have come to be known as the Roosevelt policies.
Those policies, stated succinctly, are that the guaranties
of the Constitution shall be in favor of life, liberty
and property and shall be sacredly maintained; …
Mr. Roosevelt’s views were mine
long before I knew Mr. Roosevelt at all.
You will find them expressed in my opinions in so far as
it was proper to express them in judicial opinions,
and I am not to be driven from adherence to those views.17

      In January 1908 he wrote on labor,

Labor has a legal right to organize, to strike,
to enforce its demands by any peaceful method.
In some respects, the courts had abused
their injunction powers to oppress labor.
Labor leaders should have a right
to be heard before being enjoined.
It might be wise to have a second judge hear
contempt proceedings following violation of an injunction.18

Taft also believed that the Interstate Commerce Commission should have the power to regulate railroads by fixing maximum rates, but these should not become effective until courts review them. He suggested that careful study should determine how to reduce high tariff rates so that the rates are not “greater than the difference in the cost of production abroad and in the United States.” His position was that “an income tax might be wise” but that it would require an amendment to the US Constitution.
      On February 15 the Assistant Postmaster General Frank H. Hitchcock resigned in order to work on the Taft canvass. On March 20 he estimated that Taft would have 552 delegates of the total 980. On April 1 Taft left on a speaking tour that took him as far west as Omaha. He returned to Washington on May 17.
      The Republican National Convention began on June 16 in Chicago. The credentials committee was ruling in favor of Taft. Of the 125 delegates who were officeholders, 97 of them were committed to Taft. During Senator Lodge’s long oration as the permanent chairman he mentioned President Roosevelt, and the demonstration lasted 49 minutes. Many chanted, “Four years more!” After the nominating speeches on June 18 Taft won with 702 votes, and no one else got more than 68 votes. As a running mate Taft had said he wanted someone from the west like Senator Dolliver of Iowa, and he refused to grant Senator Borah of Idaho concessions to progressives. Senator Beveridge of Indiana said he would decline because La Follette’s ideas were being rejected. Taft chose for Vice President the conservative Rep. James Sherman of New York. John D. Rockefeller sent Taft a telegram congratulating him, and Andrew Carnegie provided a check for $20,000. Taft resigned as War Secretary on June 30 to devote himself to the campaign.
      The Democrats at Denver on the first ballot on July 10 nominated William Jennings Bryan for the third time. Taft read newspapers about his campaign so that he could issue denials. The easy ones he simply denied, but he found it “troublesome” to have to partly deny and partly explain the others. The New York lawyer William Cromwell donated $50,000 to the campaign, and Taft asked him to reduce the amount which he did to $10,000. Taft refused to take any money from a corporation or from anyone connected to one. A Federal law banned contributions from corporations but not from individuals. Bryan in May had suggested that they ask Congress to require public notice of all contributions before the election. Taft had written back that he favored publication after the election. New York had a state law for publicity, and Taft’s chairman in New York was bound by that. Taft promised that if he was elected, he would extend that principle. The Taft campaign would raise about $1,600,000. Roosevelt had spent over $2,200,000 in 1904. Taft in his long acceptance speech at Cincinnati said,

The chief function of the next administration,
in my judgment, is distinct from,
and a progressive development of that
which has been performed by President Roosevelt.
The chief function of the next administration
is to complete and perfect the machinery by which
these standards may be maintained, by which
the lawbreakers may be promptly restrained and punished,
but which shall operate with sufficient accuracy and dispatch
to interfere with legitimate business as little as possible.
Such machinery is not now inadequate….
A merchant or manufacturer engaged
in a legitimate business that covers certain states,
wishes to sell his business and his good will, and so
in the terms of the sale obligates himself to the purchaser
not to go into the same business in those states.
Such a restraint of trade
has always been enforced at common law.
Again, the employees of an interstate railway
Combine and enter upon a peaceable and lawful strike
to secure better wages.
At common law this was not a restraint of trade
or commerce or a violation of the rights
of the company or of the public.
Neither case ought to be made
a violation of the anti-trust law.19

He would oppose legalizing boycotts especially secondary boycotts. He aimed to improve the power of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) “to ascertain the value of the physical railroad property.” He advised amending anti-trust law. He criticized the Democrats’ policies, and he said the tariffs needed to be revised. He supported the rights of labor but not harmful actions that are not lawful. He urged adopting the postal-savings-bank system. He suggested making campaign contributions and expenditures public, and he favored the election of Senators by the people.
      The Wall Street Journal praised Taft’s policy as a balance between eastern conservatism and western radicalism.
      Taft in September gave speeches in the Midwest and went as far as Colorado. His meetings drew large crowds, and he was encouraged. On September 17 the anti-liquor militant Carrie Nation asked Taft about his position on alcohol. He declined to answer, and she left and called him an enemy of temperance and an infidel. His position on prohibition was that he opposed any law that could not be enforced. Yet he strongly favored local options to limit selling liquor.
      On October 28 he spoke at the liberal Cooper Union in New York on the right of workers to be organized in unions and to strike as long as they did not injure property or business unlawfully or use a secondary boycott. Some Catholics and Protestant denominations criticized Taft for being a Unitarian who in the past had denied “the divinity of Christ.” Protestants were concerned that he had paid the Catholic Church millions for the land in the Philippines.
      In the election on November 3 Taft got 7,678,395 votes to 6,408,984 for Bryan, and he won 29 states for 321 Electoral College votes to Bryan’s 17 states with 162 votes. Republicans lost four seats in the House of Representatives but still had a 219-172 majority. Losing only two seats in the Senate, they dominated it 59-31. Yet Democrats had elected the governor in five states that Taft had won. Wisconsin’s Senator La Follette sent Taft this telegram:

No man ever had a greater opportunity.
The country confides in your constructive leadership
for the progressive legislation needed to secure
equal opportunity for all in our industrial development.20

      On November 17 Taft spoke of the free trade on sugar and tobacco with the Philippines that the War Secretary Wright had approved.
      At first Taft said that he wanted to keep Roosevelt’s Cabinet, but Roosevelt told him that Secretary of State Root, Navy Secretary Newberry, and Treasury Secretary Cortelyou would be leaving. Taft actually retained only the Agriculture Secretary Wilson and Postmaster General Meyer whom he transferred to being Navy Secretary. On December 19 he announced that Senator Knox of Pennsylvania, who had been US Attorney General, had agreed to be Secretary of State.
      President-elect Taft went to Panama on January 19 to inspect the canal construction. On February 7 he went to New Orleans, and he made speeches in the South as he traveled by rail. Ten days later he announced that Jacob M. Dickinson, who co-founded the American Society of International Law, would be Secretary of War. He named Richard Ballinger, a lawyer who had been a reforming Mayor of Seattle and a General Land Office Commissioner, as Interior Secretary. Franklin MacVeagh had gone to Columbia Law School and was a commercial bank director in Chicago for 29 years before becoming Treasury Secretary. The Republican National Committee Chairman Hitchcock was made the Postmaster General. Charles Nagel had taught at the St. Louis Law School for 24 years and was also a corporation lawyer, and Taft appointed him Secretary of Commerce and Labor. George Wickersham was a law partner in New York City and became Attorney General.
      On 23 February 1909 President-elect Taft wrote to the Kansas City Star publisher W. R. Nelson,

I am going to be criticized for
putting corporation lawyers into my Cabinet.
I think I shall have in the Cabinet five
as good lawyers as there are in the country,
and being good, first-class lawyers,
they have had a good deal of corporate employment….
The people who are best fitted to do this,
without injury to the business interests of the country,
are those lawyers who understand corporate wealth,
the present combination, its evils, and the method
by which they can be properly restrained.21

Roosevelt asked Taft to appoint his secretary William Loeb, and Taft made him the collector of the port of New York. Taft said he would confer with Booker T. Washington on appointments for Negroes, but he would not appoint any in the South where they would be resented. Dr. Crum, whom Roosevelt had appointed as the port collector in Charleston, agreed to resign, and Dr. Washington and Roosevelt accepted that.
      On March 3 a rain and snow storm became worse that night, and the inauguration the next day would take place inside the Senate chamber. Taft in the past had said that it would be a cold day if he ever entered the White House.

United States & Taft in 1909

      President Taft’s inaugural address was longer than any other with the exception of William Henry Harrison’s who was President for only one month. Here are some of the highlights:

I have had the honor to be one of the advisers
of my distinguished predecessor, and, as such,
to hold up his hands in the reforms he has initiated.
I should be untrue to myself, to my promises,
and to the declarations of the party platform
upon which I was elected to office, if I did not make
the maintenance and enforcement of those reforms
a most important feature of my administration.
They were directed to the suppression of the lawlessness
and abuses of power of the great combinations of capital
invested in railroads and in industrial enterprises
carrying on interstate commerce.
The steps which my predecessor took and the legislation
passed on his recommendation have accomplished much,
have caused a general halt in the vicious policies
which created popular alarm, and have brought about in the
business affected a much higher regard for existing law….
   Relief of the railroads from certain restrictions
of the antitrust law have been urged by my predecessor
and will be urged by me.
On the other hand, the administration is pledged
to legislation looking to a proper federal supervision
and restriction to prevent excessive issues
of bonds and stock by companies
owning and operating interstate commerce railroads….
   I recommend a graduated inheritance tax as correct
in principle and as certain and easy of collection….
   I sincerely hope that we may continue to minimize
the evils likely to arise from such immigration
without unnecessary friction and by mutual concessions
between self-respecting governments.
Meantime we must take every precaution to prevent,
or failing that, to punish outbursts of race feeling
among our people against foreigners of whatever nationality
who have by our grant a treaty right
to pursue lawful business here
and to be protected against lawless assault or injury….
   By proper legislation we may, and ought to,
place in the hands of the Federal Executive
the means of enforcing the treaty rights of such aliens
in the courts of the Federal Government….
   The Negroes are now Americans.
Their ancestors came here years ago against their will,
and this is their only country and their only flag.
They have shown themselves
anxious to live for it and to die for it.
Encountering the race feeling against them,
subjected at times to cruel injustice growing out of it,
they may well have our profound sympathy
and aid in the struggle they are making.
We are charged with the sacred duty
of making their path as smooth and easy as we can.
Any recognition of their distinguished men,
any appointment to office from among their number,
is properly taken as an encouragement
and an appreciation of their progress,
and this just policy should be pursued
when suitable occasion offers….
   I invoke the considerate sympathy and support
of my fellow-citizens and the aid of the Almighty God
in the discharge of my responsible duties.22

This last sentence ended his address.
      President Taft convened a special session of the US Congress on March 15 and in a brief message the next day he noted that the recession following the panic of October 1907 had caused a federal deficit of over $100 million, and the tariffs needed to be revised.
      At the memorial service for Grover Cleveland on March 18 Taft praised the career of the only Democratic President since the Civil War. On March 23 Theodore Roosevelt left to go hunting in Africa, and he would not return until June 1910. Taft wrote an affectionate letter at his departure promising to always consider his ideas.
      Taft chose to stay out of the struggle between those favoring and opposing the powerful House Speaker Joseph Cannon who chose all the committees and managed legislation. Taft wanted a bill to replace the Dingley Tariff of 1897 that would fulfill the pledge of the Republican plank that promised “unequivocally for the revision of the tariff by a special session of Congress immediately following the inauguration of the next president” that would be the “true principle of protection” by “imposition of such duties as will equal the difference between the cost of production at home and abroad, together with a reasonable profit to American industries.”23 While speaking in Georgia in January he had learned they would like to see the manufacturing using wood, iron, and cotton stimulated, and in Mississippi there was a call to protect lumber. Taft decided that he wanted a tariff law that would not injure any part of the country.
      On April 1 Senator Joseph Bailey offered an amendment to the Payne-Aldrich bill for a general income tax of 3% on incomes over $5,000. The US Supreme Court had declared such a tax unconstitutional, and therefore Taft advocated a constitutional amendment instead. Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island said he would agree to that. Taft also suggested that Aldrich sponsor a tax on the income of corporations, but he doubted the deficit would last two years. Senator Lodge was concerned that Taft knew little about tariffs and politics. Vice President Sherman advised him to tell Postmaster General Hitchcock to “shut off all the appointments of postmasters until the bill is passed,” but Taft replied that he only wanted to use that as a “lever on the members and senators who are recalcitrant.”
      Taft was happy with the tariff bill that the House sent to the Senate on April 9, and he hoped to make the Senate bill as near as possible. In the next month the Senate removed many of the tariff cuts. The powerful Senator Aldrich wanted the tariffs on 600 items increased. Taft on May 10 informed the Congress of a crisis in Puerto Rico, and he asked for a special session to amend the act governing the island. On May 26 Taft spoke to blacks at Howard University concluding that the people and the government of the United States have an obligation to help them solve “one of the great problems that God has put upon the people of the United States.” In the May issue of McClure’s he answered the critics of the Panama Canal, and in the June issue he wrote about judicial decisions.
      On June 16 Taft sent a message to Congress recommending a 2% tax on the net incomes of all corporations except national banks, savings banks, and building and loan associations. He was told that this would bring in $25 million. Taft got angry when he learned that the Conference Committee on the tariff bill would be eight Republican protectionists that included the senators La Follette, Beveridge, and Dolliver. Taft asked them to let in freely hides, lumber, coal, iron, newsprint paper, gloves, and wool, and they worked out a compromise. Joe Cannon had to give up on protecting gloves. As they were wrangling over the tariff on lumber, Cannon threatened to adjourn the House. Aldrich asked Taft to give in, but he said he would convene a new session if they did not pass the bill. The House and Senate conferees agreed to the bill on July 29. Taft signed it gladly on August 5 as it contained the corporate income tax which would be upheld finally by the Supreme Court in Flint v. Stone Tracy Co. in March 1911. The President admitted that the Payne-Aldrich Act was not “a perfect bill,” but he believed that it was “a sincere effort on the part of the Republican party to make a downward revision.” Commodities worth $5 million that had decreases in duties were consumed within a year while at the same time higher rates only applied on consumer goods valued at $600,000.
      The economist F. W. Taussig who studied trade observed that the Payne-Aldrich Act did not essentially change the US tariff system. He wrote,

In the Senate, things went in star-chamber fashion,
and the familiar process of log-rolling and manipulation
was once again to be seen.
The act as finally passed
brought no real breach in the tariff wall,
and no downward revision of any serious consequence.
   None the less, a somewhat different spirit
from that of 1890 or 1897 was shown in 1909.
Though the act as a whole
brought no considerable downward revision,
it was less aggressively protectionist
than the previous Republican measures.24

      At the National Irrigation Conference in Spokane, Washington delegates discussed the conservation and reclamation of forests and waterways. On August 9 the United Press news agency reported that General Electric, Guggenheim, and Amalgamated Copper had purchased 15,868 acres in Montana. On August 10 Gifford Pinchot, who was the Chief of the United States Forestry Service and a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt, criticized Interior Secretary Richard Ballinger for delaying Taft’s re-withdrawal order so that they could buy that land. Later Ballinger proved that this land grab was exaggerated because they really only got 158.63 acres. On August 18 Louis Glavis, the head of the Field Division of the Interior Department, gave President Taft detailed allegations against Ballinger on a coal case. Taft and his Attorney General George Wickersham sent it to Ballinger who completed his reply in 10,000 words on September 4. Taft wrote an official letter to Ballinger and provided copies for the press before he boarded a train for his speaking tour on September 13. His letter and documents he had studied found little evidence against Ballinger.
      On September 14 President Taft spoke to the Boston Chamber of Commerce on improving business methods. Two days later in Chicago he discussed labor unions and injunction issues. In Wisconsin he never mentioned Senator La Follette, and on the 17th at Milwaukee he promoted his plan for postal savings banks. Later at Winona, Minnesota he gave a long speech and said, “On the whole, however, I am bound to say that I think the Payne bill is the best bill that the Republican party ever passed.”25 Journalists picked this up as newsworthy, and soon newspaper headlines were spreading a message that Democrats could use in future elections.
      In Des Moines, Iowa on September 20 Taft gave a speech on how to amend the Interstate Commerce Commission law. The next day at Denver, Colorado he discussed taxing corporations and a 2% tax on individuals’ income over $5,000.
      His train reached Seattle, Washington on September 29, and there and at Tacoma he discussed Alaska. Los Angeles welcomed him with a large demonstration on October 11, and the Chamber of Commerce put on a large banquet at the Shriners’ Auditorium. He talked about the Panama Canal and trade. Taft met with Mexico’s President Porfirio Diaz at El Paso, Texas and in Juarez, Mexico. Taft was concerned about American lives and about $2 million in investments in Mexico. By 1910 the Americans owned 43% of Mexico’s property while Mexicans held 33%, and other foreign nations had 24%. Taft wanted to spend more money on waterways, and in Texas he talked about natural resources and irrigation. In St. Louis on October 25 he said,

The improvement of waterways,
the improvement of irrigation of arid and subarid lands,
and all this conservation of resources is not for the purpose
of distributing ‘pork’ to every part of the country….
Now there is a proposition that we issue $500,000,000
of bonds or a billion of bonds for waterways,
and then that we just cut that up and apportion
a part to the Pacific, a part to the Atlantic,
a part to the Missouri and a part to the Ohio.
I am opposed to it because it not only smells
of the pork barrel, but it will be the pork barrel.26

Taft spoke at Vicksburg, Mississippi on October 28, and two days later he attended the Waterways Convention at New Orleans. In early November he spoke in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and at Richmond, Virginia on the 10th. The next day he returned to Washington and addressed the Laymen’s Missionary Movement. On his tour he gave 259 speeches.
      On November 17 the elected government of Nicaraguan President José Santos Zelaya executed two American citizens who had been fighting for rebels led by Juan Estrada. The next day Taft sent US warships to Nicaragua. On December 1 Secretary of State Knox broke off relations with Nicaragua. Zelaya resigned on December 17 and left for Spain, and Nicaragua’s congress made José Madriz president. He opposed US intervention and went into exile in August 1910. Juan José Estrada became president on August 30. The Taft Administration supported his conservative government, and US Marines began occupying Nicaragua.
      On 20 November 1909 the US Supreme Court decided that Standard Oil of New Jersey had violated the Anti-trust Act by controlling 85% of the American petroleum industry. The Court ordered them to divest themselves of all its subsidiaries within thirty days. Taft commended Frank Kellogg for his prosecution. On 4 March 1910 a bill to create the Rockefeller Foundation as a national corporation with $100 million for various projects was introduced in the US Congress, and five days later the company’s lawyers filed briefs with the US Supreme Court. On 7 February 1911 the US Attorney General Wickersham informed Taft that this institution using Rockefeller was questionable, and Taft agreed with him. The bill was withdrawn and was introduced again in 1912 but failed to pass.
      Taft in his First Annual Message to Congress on December 7 reported his policies on many issues. He wrote,

The total deficit for the last fiscal year
in the Post-Office Department amounted to $17,500,000.
The branches of its business which it did at a loss
were the second-class mail service, in which the loss,
as already said, was $63,000,000, and
the free rural delivery, in which the loss was $28,000,000.
These losses were in part offset by the profits
of the letter postage and other sources of income.
It would seem wise to reduce the loss upon
second-class mail matter, at least to the extent of preventing
a deficit in the total operations of the Post-Office.27

The second-class mail rate would affect newspapers and magazines.

United States & Taft in 1910

            On 10 January 1910 President Taft signed the Mann-Elkins Act that gave the Interstate Commerce Commission more authority to regulate railway rates for telegraph, telephone, and wireless communications, and it established a Commerce Court. On that day Representative George W. Norris of Nebraska wrote to Taft,

I am in favor of increasing the power
of the Interstate Commerce Commission;
of the government regulation and control
of industrial and railroad corporations;
the physical valuation of railroads;
the publication of campaign expenses;
the enactment of a reasonable postal savings bank law;
the reasonable and fair conservation of natural resources;
the regulation of injunctions
as outlined in the Republican platform;
the reform of federal court procedure as advocated by you,
and a permanent nonpartisan tariff commission.28

      In 1909 and 1910 Gifford Pinchot, Louis Glavis, Norman Hapgood of Collier’s Weekly, and others accused Interior Secretary Richard Ballinger and the Taft Administration of corruption regarding natural resources and coal lands in Alaska. Roosevelt wrote that Pinchot had done more for “the preservation of the natural resources of our country” than anyone. They liked James R. Garfield, but Taft had replaced him with Ballinger who directed the Geological Survey to study all the water-power sites so that they could be preserved. Taft believed that Garfield had withdrawn lands illegally. On December 23 Ballinger asked Washington’s Senator Wesley Jones to demand that the US Congress investigate the charges against him. Ballinger had been Commissioner of the General Land Office in 1907, and in 1908 he was an agent for the corporation of Cunningham, Morgan and Guggenheim regarding coal fields in Alaska. As Interior Secretary he dismissed Glavis after he appealed to Pinchot. Ballinger and Taft believed that waterways were needed for water power, and they ordered many removed from the protection of the Forestry Service. Glavis also accused Land Commissioner Dennett of misconduct. Taft felt that Roosevelt and Pinchot were more sympathetic “for they both have more of a Socialist tendency.”29
      Taft did not want to offend his friend Roosevelt, but Elihu Root advised him to dismiss Pinchot. On 7 January 1910 Taft wrote to Pinchot,

Your letter was in effect an improper appeal
to Congress and the public to excuse in advance
the guilt of your subordinates before I could act,
and against my decision in the Glavis case
before the whole evidence on which that was based
could be considered….
   By your own conduct you have destroyed your usefulness
as a helpful subordinate of the government,
and it therefore now becomes my duty
to direct the secretary of agriculture
to remove you from your office as the forester.30

Congress authorized the investigation that began on January 19 and ended on May 20. On February 26 Pinchot testified to a Congressional committee that Ballinger was “an enemy of the policy of conservation” and that he had not been a “guardian of public property of enormous value.” On May 15 Taft explained how his deliberation process had worked, though his method was questionable in this letter:

I therefore directed him to embody in a written statement
such analysis and conclusions as he had given me,
file it with the record, and date it prior to the date
of my opinion, so as to show that my decision was fortified
by his summary of the evidence
and his conclusions therefrom.31

On May 26 Taft wrote to Roosevelt who was in the Congo when he learned that Pinchot was dismissed. In June at Southampton he received Taft’s letter which said,

The Garfield-Pinchot-Ballinger controversy has given me
a great deal of personal pain and suffering,
but I am not going to say a word to you on that subject.
You will have to look into that wholly for yourself
without influence by the parties,
if you would find the truth.32

Taft and Ballinger persuaded the Congress to pass legislation giving the President the authority to protect public land from private development.
      On June 25 President Taft signed the bill that established postal savings banks that had proved popular in many countries. Previous presidents including Roosevelt had attempted to do this over forty years, but Taft got it done. He noted that about $3,500 million, which was 98.4% of all savings in US banks, were in only 14 states while the other 32 states had only about $70 million which was 1.6%. The amount of savings in these new postal accounts would increase to $43 million by 1914 and to $1,180 million by 1933. The United States had a deficit of $89 million in the fiscal year ending 30 June 1909 while in 1910 it was reduced to about $18 million.
      The Hepburn Act which Roosevelt had signed on 29 June 1906 increased the jurisdiction and authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). On 20-22 August 1909 the US Attorney General Wickersham held a conference in New York with ICC Chairman Martin A. Knapp and Commerce Secretary Nagel, and they planned bills that gave the ICC the power to supervise railroad bonds and stocks with a Commerce Court to review its orders. Taft suggested allowing the ICC to control the construction of various railroad devices to safeguard railroad workers. The ICC was authorized to investigate rates. Taft also supported a practical bill to fix compensation for injuries on railways. He got the Congress to approve a $20 million bond issue for irrigation projects. Taft gave up his opposition to “pork barrel” spending so that improvements could be made in various places.
      Taft in May 1910 expressed his view of foreign policy that came to be known as “dollar diplomacy.” He said,

We believe it to be of the utmost importance that
while our foreign policy should not be turned
a hair’s breadth from the straight path of justice,
it may be well made to include active intervention to secure
for our merchandise and our capitalists opportunity
for profitable investment which shall insure
to the benefit of both countries concerned.33

That month the US sold two battleships to Argentina. Taft was especially concerned about the stability of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica because of the Panama Canal.
      The US Supreme Court Justice Rufus W. Peckham had died on 24 October 1909, and Taft chose the Federal Circuit Court Judge Lurton to replace him even though Lurton was 65 years old. Taft was critical of elderly justices; but he had worked with Lurton for years and respected him greatly. Lurton served from January 1910 until his death in July 1914. Justice David J. Brewer died on 28 March 1910, and Taft appointed New York’s Gov. Charles Evans Hughes who began serving in October at the age of 48 until he resigned in 1916 to run for President. Taft would become Chief Justice in July 1921 for nearly nine years, and he would be succeeded as Chief Justice by Hughes who retired in June 1941. Chief Justice Fuller died on 4 July 1910. Taft promoted Justice Edward D. White to Chief Justice even though he was a Confederate veteran, a Catholic, and a Democrat. The Associate Justice Moody resigned on November 20 because of poor health, and Taft appointed the conservative Willis Van Devanter who served from January 1911 to June 1937.
      Theodore Marburg at a dinner in Baltimore on 6 February 1910 had founded the American Society for the Judicial Settlement of International Disputes. Taft agreed to be the honorary president, and Secretary of State Knox and Woodrow Wilson sent endorsing letters. Taft in March gave a speech in New York on the futility of war even for the winners. He suggested a permanent court of arbitrations to resolve “all questions” that could lead to war including matters of national honor. In June both houses of Congress passed a resolution creating a peace commission, though their proposal for an international navy was considered too radical. On November 16 the US State Department contacted Austria-Hungary, Belgium, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, and Turkey, but only Austria-Hungary and Britain sent favorable responses. In December at a meeting of Marburg’s group Taft said, “If we do not have arbitration, we shall have war.”34 On December 24 Andrew Carnegie donated $10 million for a Carnegie Peace Fund, and he suggested adopting Taft’s views.
      On June 18 Theodore Roosevelt returned from his African hunting and visits to crown heads in Europe, and he appreciated getting a letter from President Taft. Agriculture Secretary Wilson told Roosevelt that President Taft had continued his policies, and Roosevelt said he would not comment.
      The US Congress adjourned on June 26, and Taft went there to sign the final bills. The main senators who opposed him did not bother to say goodbye to him. On June 30 Roosevelt with Senator Lodge visited Taft at his summer home in Beverly, Massachusetts where he was resting away from the heat of Washington. After their conversation they agreed to tell the press that it was merely a social visit. Roosevelt found support for his progressive views in The Promise of American Life by Herbert Croly which had been published in November 1909. This book suggested, “The principle of democracy is virtue”35 and implied that the US Constitution in some parts may be destructive of democracy which Roosevelt believed was based on good ethics.
      Taft was concerned that Roosevelt was moving toward socialism and away from the Constitution which he believed “every real thinking patriot” should support. He complained that Roosevelt even criticized the US Supreme Court. Taft was concerned that Roosevelt was joining the “insurgents” such as La Follette, Payne, Aldrich, Lodge, and others who were carrying western states. Taft did not like this “New Nationalism.”
      Taft noted in July that in the previous year he had turned a projected deficit of $40 million to a surplus of $11 million in 1911. In June he had obtained $100,000 to investigate expenditures, and it would begin in the Treasury Department.
      Instead of speaking to the National Conservation Congress at St. Paul with Roosevelt on September 4, Taft chose to speak on the following night. The two long-time friends did meet on September 19 at New Haven when Taft was attending a meeting of the Yale Corporation. Taft felt that Roosevelt was influenced by the muckrakers and was moving in a direction he did not expect. He read that Roosevelt had said that Taft had not carried out his policies and that he would not support him for the nomination in 1912.
      At the New York State Convention in Saratoga on September 27 Taft supported Roosevelt against his conservative Vice President Sherman. The New York Republicans chose Roosevelt as temporary chairman and Elihu Root as permanent chairman. Roosevelt was glad that they nominated Henry Stimson for governor.
      Taft expected that in the elections on November 8 the Democrats would gain a majority of 20 to 25; but they gained 55 seats that gave them a 227-161 advantage of 66 in the US House of Representatives. Democrats gained 7 seats in the US Senate even though their advantage in the popular votes was only 0.16%. Republicans lost 9 seats in the Senate but still had a 50-40 advantage. Beveridge and Stimson were defeated, and New Jersey elected the Princeton professor Woodrow Wilson as their Democratic governor.
      In the fall of 1910 the Aldrich Plan for Monetary Legislation was developed over ten days by the Rhode Island Senator Aldrich with the bankers Henry P. Davison, Paul M. Warburg, and Frank A. Vanderlip on Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast. They proposed the Reserve Association of America to make banking liquid with secondary discounting and commercial paper accepted by member banks so that currency could be issued and circulated as long as issued assets were in its hands.
      On November 11 President Taft went to Panama to inspect the construction of the canal. After his return he invited Roosevelt to visit him in the White House, and they had a cordial time and talked about Panama and the anti-Japanese legislation in California. Taft sent him a copy of his upcoming message to Congress, and Roosevelt commended it and said he agreed.
      Taft favored getting a reciprocity agreement with Canada to end tariffs and gain free trade. Utah’s Senator Reed Smoot warned the President that farmers would not like that. Taft believed that the treaty was right and was not concerned about the politics. He also wanted to negotiate reciprocity with Germany and Mexico, but those would not happen. Taft avoided tariff competition with France. Newspaper publishers had opposed Taft’s higher second-class postal rates, but they favored reciprocity so that paper and pulp would be imported duty free. Taft believed that reciprocity could stop the rising cost of living.
      In his Second Annual Message to Congress on December 6 Taft reported that arbitration had helped solve a dispute over fishing with Britain, and the Tribunal at The Hague resolved another between the Governments of the United States and Venezuela. He was pleased that the Congress had approved a 5-member peace commission. He discussed various foreign relations and tariff negotiations, and he hoped for reciprocity with Canada. He affirmed his intention to protect aliens. He thanked the Congress for passing the merit system for selecting diplomats. He announced the estimates for federal spending in the current and next fiscal years and included a detailed chart showing the six departments and the territories. He noted that the Payne Tariff was criticized, but he believed it provided protection at home. He asked for more Army officers and engineers. Charts showed the amounts of exports and imports of the Philippine Islands. He reported on the progress of the Panama Canal and urged its fortification. He discussed tolls and the likely revenue and maintenance. He called for an amendment to the interstate commerce law to prohibit railroads from owning or controlling ships engaged in trade through the Canal. He noted that anti-trust laws were being enforced. He urged reforms in federal and state courts, and he advised reducing unnecessary appeals to the Supreme Court. He asked for increases in the salaries of Federal judges. He foresaw more postal savings banks opening. He reported that the budget of the Post Office Department was becoming more balanced. He agreed with the Navy Secretary’s request for reorganization, and some navy-yards could be abolished. For land reclamation and conservation he recommended repealing the law “which forbids his reserving more forest lands in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming,”36 leasing coal deposits, oil and gas prospecting, and water-power sites. He discussed Alaska and many other issues related to the government. He concluded,

It is in the interest of all the people of the country
that for the time being the activities of government,
in addition to enforcing earnestly and impartially the existing
laws, should be directed to economy of administration,
to the enlargement of opportunities for foreign trade,
to the conservation and improvement
of our agricultural lands and our other natural resources,
to the building up of home industries,
and to the strengthening of confidence
of capital in domestic investment.37

      Taft had good relations with Japan because he had talked with leaders there in earlier visits to Yokohama and Tokyo. He told Roosevelt that he was concerned about Japan, but he did not agree that added military preparation was needed because of a Japanese invasion. Taft supported having a world’s fair in San Francisco, and he thought that would promote peace and better relations with Asians. He opposed the exclusion clause against Japanese immigration and explained, “Japan feels this is a remnant of the old order of things under which she was treated as half civilized.”38 He denied the rumor that a Japanese syndicate had purchased 400,000 acres in Baja California. The US Senate even passed Lodge’s resolution opposing the deal, but Taft told Stanford University’s president David Starr Jordan that it was not important. Jordan wrote in his autobiography, “This absurd and irrelevant document was never signed by President Taft.”39 Taft had met Jordan in 1909.
      Taft wanted a Tariff Board, and in late December he asked the Congress for a Tariff Commission. They provided some funds but no commission.

United States & Taft in 1911

      President Taft hosted a White House conference on banks in January 1911. On January 11 the United States and Canada both made laws to establish reciprocal trading on most agricultural products and some others. Taft in a letter to Roosevelt on January 10 had noted that this “would make Canada only an adjunct of the United States.” On the 12th Roosevelt wrote to Taft that the reciprocity with Canada was excellent.
      On January 21 Robert La Follette invited progressive leaders to his home, and they organized the National Progressive League to work for direct election of US senators, primary elections for candidates and delegates to national conventions, and amendments to state constitutions to allow initiative, referendum, and recall. They stimulated the forming of state Progressive Leagues, and the Progressive Federation of Publicists and Editors was founded. Roosevelt told La Follette that he agreed with them, though he saw those things as means, not goals. He declined to join but endorsed their principles in The Outlook. The Democrats had taken over the US House of Representatives, and in the US Senate the Republicans were divided between the conservatives and the progressives.
      Taft sent the reciprocity agreement to Congress on January 26 with a special message in which he wrote,

My purpose in making a reciprocal trade agreement
with Canada has been not only to obtain one which
would be mutually advantageous to both countries,
but one which also would be truly national in its scope
as applied to our own country
and would be of benefit to all sections.40

William Randolph Hearst sent his approval from London. On February 14 Champ Clark in the House of Representatives said that he was for reciprocity and explained,

I hope to see the day when the American flag will float over
every square foot of the British North American possessions
clear to the North Pole.41

This set off alarms among Canadians who did not want to be annexed by the US. Taft said, “The talk of annexation is bosh. Everyone who knows anything about it realizes that it is bosh.”42 He thought it should be treated as a joke. The US House of Representatives passed the reciprocity bill on February 21. On the 18th Andrew Carnegie wrote to Taft that it was supported by the Democrats.
      Taft in March accepted Ballinger’s resignation for reasons of health and finances, and his appointment of the lawyer Walter L. Fisher as Interior Secretary worked out because he was considered a disciple of Pinchot.
      One hour after the US Congress adjourned on March 4 Taft summoned them to a special session on April 4. On March 11 Taft appointed the Commission on Efficiency and Economy with the economist Frederick A. Cleveland as its chairman and filled it with five capable men. He directed the heads of the departments to answer their requests for information. At this time the United States was the only great nation that did not have a budget or a unified system for government spending. Yet expenditures had reached $1 billion a year. Taft asked for $250,000 for the Commission, and he estimated it would save taxpayers $2 million a year. Congress granted them only $75,000 and stipulated that only three employees could be paid over $4,000 a year. Taft wanted all the employees except for important officers to be under the merit system. He wanted to strengthen civil service and reduce patronage which he said caused “nothing but trouble.” He believed that administrative officers should continue as long as they did their work well.
      Democrats were in control of the US House of Representatives which passed the reciprocity bill on April 21. The US Senators approved it on July 22 with 31 Democrats and 22 Republicans voting in favor over 24 Republicans and 3 Democrats against. Taft signed it on July 26.
      The US Ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, came to Washington to warn President Taft that President Diaz was in danger of being overthrown. Taft ordered 20,000 soldiers sent to the Mexican border with Texas and California, and he said they would not cross the border before he obtained authority from the Congress. On May 23 Diaz refused to resign, and that night more than fifty people were killed. More lives were lost the next day, and Diaz resigned and fled to Vera Cruz. The revolutionary leader Francisco Madero came to Mexico City supported by 100,000 soldiers, and he became president on November 6 and soon faced an insurrection.
      On May 15 the US Supreme Court had convicted Standard Oil of violating the Antitrust Act, and the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey had thirty days to divest itself of over thirty subsidiaries. Two weeks later the Supreme Court condemned the American Tobacco Company and 28 other companies in an action that had been started by Roosevelt.
      On June 6 the US made a treaty with Nicaragua that allowed the US President to approve the receiver general of customs, and the US would urge bankers to extend loans on fair terms. Later in 1911 a revolution broke out, and the US sent marines again.
      On July 6 in a speech to the Michigan State Bar Association the Attorney General Wickersham said that the “only legitimate end and object of all government is the greatest good of the greatest number of the people.”43 In a letter to Taft on September 23 Wickersham warned him that big financiers advised managers of the Republican Party that there would not be financial donations unless the prosecution of the meat-packers in Chicago was dropped along with the attempt to dissolve the combination between the National City Bank and its subsidiaries. In response Taft in a speech said,

Every trust of any size that violates the statue will,
before the end of this administration in 1913,
be brought into court to meet and acquiesce in a degree
of disintegration by which competition
between its parts shall be restored and preserved.44

      On August 4 British and French diplomats came to the White House to sign the Arbitration Treaty to resolve conflicts even those affecting national honor. Roosevelt opposed the treaty because he believed a self-respecting nation should not surrender its rights to someone else. The National Rifle Association’s president called Taft “mushy” about “the horrors of war.” Taft had served as Honorary President of the American Society for the Judicial Settlement of International Disputes since it formed in 1910. When the US Senators added amendments, which Taft believed crippled the treaty, he refused to sign the bill. In 1911 he decreased US military spending by $53 million.
      Although Roosevelt opposed arbitration, Taft in August hoped that he could change the minds of the senators needed for ratification of treaties.
      That summer Taft vetoed tariff reductions on wool, cotton, chemicals, metals, and other products, and in December he would agree that the Schedule K on wool could be lowered.
      After his birthday on September 15 Taft left on a two-month tour of the West by train, making speeches that city newspapers printed in full. At Marquette, Michigan he said,

We had the war of 1812, in which our neighbor, England,
asserted rights that she would not now think of pressing.
I think that war might have been settled
without a fight and ought to have been.
So with the Mexican War.
So, I think, with the Spanish War.45

While he was in Kalamazoo, Michigan he learned that the Liberal government was no long in office in Canada, and that the government had rejected the reciprocity agreement. On October 7 at the University of Idaho he told students and faculty that international peace is possible. He gave the example of how dueling was customary, and it was no more rational than war for settling a question of honor. He said,

I don’t think that it indicates that a man
lacks personal courage if he does not want to fight,
but prefers to submit questions of national honor
to a board of arbitration….
We are a great nation of 90,000,000 people.
We have power; we have wealth;
we are afraid of no nation in the world
so far as battle is concerned.
We have no entangling alliances.
The other nations who have entangling alliances
and who cannot lead in this movement look to us to lead.46

William Allen White reported that Taft’s trip showed that he had lost the confidence of the people.
      On October 27 (Roosevelt’s birthday) newspapers reported on the Taft administration’s anti-trust suit against the U.S. Steel Corporation and its holding companies along with J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Judge Elbert Gary, George W. Perkins, and Henry Frick. The government’s lawyers were using the acquisition of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company which Roosevelt had approved in 1907 during a financial panic. They argued that Roosevelt did not understand the situation and wanted to control the company. Newspaper headlines said he was “deceived” and “fooled.” Roosevelt defended his action and said that Taft in his Cabinet was involved in the meetings. Roosevelt had become very popular as the “trust-buster.” In three years the Taft administration brought more anti-trust cases than Roosevelt had; but times had changed, and they were no long popular. In December a poll of 16,000 Republican voters by three major newspapers in Ohio showed that almost three quarters favored Roosevelt.
      The Taft administration while negotiating for a coaling station in Peru agreed to loan them money if Peru would buy two submarines built in the US instead of two from France.
      A difficult issue was whether to allow US ships to use the Panama Canal without paying. American citizens already had paid $400 million to construct the Canal, and the United States had established its right to build fortifications there. At the end of 1911 Taft told Congress,

I am very confident that the United States
has the power to relieve from the payment of tolls
any part of our shipping that Congress deems wise.
We own the canal.
It was our money that built it.
We have the right to charge tolls for its use.47

      William Cameron Forbes had been a commissioner in the Philippines since 1904, and he became the Governor of the Philippine Islands on 11 November 1909 until September 1913. He reformed the legal system while the economy prospered. General John Pershing governed the Moros Province from November 1909 to December 1913. In the fall of 1911 he besieged Bud Dajo and disarmed the Moros, collecting 7,000 firearms, and 1,256 US forces defeated 800 Moros in December.
      Taft’s Third Annual Message to Congress was 66 pages and was given in four parts from December 5 to 21. He began by discussing the antitrust law and US Supreme Court decisions. He opposed repeal and asked for supplemental legislation, and he recommended Federal incorporation. He suggested that government experts could help the courts with trust dissolutions. He proposed a Corporation Commission and considered incorporation voluntary.
      In Part 2 on December 7 he discussed foreign relations and confirmed the arbitration treaties with Britain and France. The United States helped bring about friendly resolutions in disputes “between Panama and Costa Rica and between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.” He discussed in detail political events in Mexico and explained why he sent troops to the border. He reported on the treaties proposed with Nicaragua and Honduras. Loans were made to support construction projects in China. The US renewed its treaty with Japan in 1911. On June 19 the United States recognized the Portuguese Republic. The fur-seal treaty between the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Russia was concluded on July 7. American exports reached a peak in the fiscal year ending on June 30. Taft suggested forming Chambers of Foreign Commerce, and he commended Congress for supporting the foreign service.
      In Part 3 on December 20 Taft discussed his Tariff Board and methods for adjusting duties.
      Part 4 on December 21 was about financial issues and currency reform. He reported that the latest fiscal year had a surplus of $47,234,377, and the Post Office had its first surplus in 27 years. The total national debt was about $1,304 million. The sale of Panama Canal bonds showed that the United States had better credit than any other government with a 2.9% interest rate. He reported on the work of the Monetary Commission and concluded that reform is necessary. He estimated that the Panama Canal could be completed by July 1913. He reported on the Philippine Islands and its harbors and waterways. He described the work of the US Department of Justice and the Postal Savings Bank. He proposed abolishing unnecessary Navy yards. He asked the Congress to organize a Council of National Defense. Finally he asked for a civil-service retirement system, and he renewed his request to eliminate all local offices from politics.
      Taft in his message had also suggested renegotiating the 1832 treaty with Russia that protected American citizens from discrimination. Jews in early December were concerned that anti-Semitism in Russia was harming American citizens in Russia. The House of Representatives on December 13 voted 301 to 1 to abrogate the Russian treaty. Because the Russians refused to change their policy, Taft abrogated the Treaty of Commerce with Russia on December 17.

United States, Taft & Elections 1912-13

      On 22 January 1912 President Taft wrote in a letter to the banker Otto Bannard,

I believe I represent a safer and saner view
of our government and its Constitution
than does Theodore Roosevelt,
and whether beaten or not I mean to continue
to labor in the vineyard for those principles.48

On February 5 Taft in a letter to Kentucky’s US Senator William O’Connell Bradley wrote, “Personal abuse is not likely to control ultimately in this campaign; and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for it if it does.”49
      In a message to Congress on February 2 Taft had recommended a board of experts to explain why high prices were so distressing in the world. The State Department gathered evidence and studied food prices, and they found that cooperatives had been effective in England. Despite high prices all over the world Taft believed that the United States was more prosperous that it had ever been before.
      Some midwestern governors signed a letter asking Roosevelt to run for President, and they made it public on February 10. Funds would be coming from the publisher Frank A. Munsey, J. P. Morgan’s partner George W. Perkins, and the progressive Republican Medill McCormick. During his speech “Charter of Democracy” at Columbus, Ohio on February 21 Roosevelt declared, “My hat is in the ring.”
      The US Senate amended the arbitration treaties with Britain and France, and in March they passed them 76 to 3. Taft in April decided he would renew negotiation with England and France on the treaties, and then he became busy with the campaign.
      On March 14 the US Congress passed a resolution prohibiting the shipment of weapons to any nation in North or South America where violence existed. Navy Secretary Meyer in April asked Congress if he could enlist 2,000 men if there was an intervention.
      On March 26 New York voters in the primary election chose 83 delegates for Taft and 7 for Roosevelt. By the end of the month Taft had 274 delegates toward the 540 needed for the nomination at the convention. Roosevelt in April got 56 of Pennsylvania’s 76 delegates, and he won in Taft’s state of Ohio as well as in Maryland and California.
      On April 15 Taft appointed Julia Lathrop to run the Children’s Bureau with a salary of $5,000, and she was the first woman to become a bureau chief.
      Also in April the Taft administration brought an antitrust case against International Harvester and its director George W. Perkins, who was a Roosevelt supporter, because the Roosevelt administration had neglected to do so.
      At Fostoria, Ohio on May 1912 Taft reviewed his record on protecting workers saying,

We passed a mining bureau bill to discover the nature
of those dreadful explosions and loss of life in mines.
We passed safety appliance bills
to reduce the loss of life and limbs to railroad employees.
We passed an employers liability act
to make easier recovery of damages by injured employees.
We have just passed through the Senate
a workman’s compensation act …
requiring the railroads to insure their employees
against the accidents of a dangerous employment.
We passed the children’s bureau bill calculated to
prevent children from being employed too early in factories.
We passed the white phosphorus match bill to stamp out
the making of white phosphorus matches
which results in dreadful diseases
to those engaged in their manufacture.50

      President Taft was persuaded to sign an increase in pensions for veterans because Elihu Root and Henry Cabot Lodge advised him that the Congress would override his veto. On May 10 Congress passed the pension bill that increased pension spending from $155 million in 1912 to $176 million in 1913, and Taft signed it into law.
      Taft’s brother Charles in May promised to give him $50,000 and sent $25,000 right away. Up to this time the President usually did not do much campaigning while traveling, but this year Taft spent much time giving speeches in various places before the convention to answer what he considered to be Roosevelt’s misrepresentations of his record as President.
      Later in the year a US Senate committee studied the campaign expenses and estimated that Roosevelt spent $338,000 before the Republican convention at Chicago. Thomas Lawson donated $100,000 directly to Roosevelt, and in Ohio the boss Walter Brown reported that about $50,000 was used in that state’s primary election. William Flinn testified that he spent $99,384 in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In the first year in which any primary elections were held, in 13 states Roosevelt won 9 of them giving him 278 delegates. Taft won 48 delegates and La Follette got 36. Roosevelt had won Illinois by 139,436 votes, New Jersey by 17,213, Pennsylvania by 105,899, California by 69,218, Ohio by 47,447, and Nebraska with 16,769 more than Taft and La Follette. The total popular vote in the primaries was 1,214,969 for Roosevelt, 865,835 for Taft, and 327,357 for La Follette.
      On May 31 Taft proposed that committee meetings be open to the press, and Roosevelt agreed. The Convention was to be controlled by the Republican National Committee that had been elected for four years at the end of the 1908 convention with Roosevelt people, but now most were supporting President Taft. At their meetings they seated Taft men from Alabama and Indiana. On June 12 the New York Times reported that the decisions of the National Committee were “dangerously near being treason to the whole spirit of our institutions; to the whole spirit of free democratic government.”51 Taft on June 14 informed his supporters that he would not accept a compromise candidate.
      In June 18-22 the Republican National Convention met in Chicago. Taft had support from political bosses such as Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, William Barnes of New York, Jim Watson of Indiana, and Harry Daugherty of Ohio.
      Roosevelt went to the Chicago convention with a black Rough Rider hat and said he felt like a “Bull Moose.” About 20,000 people filled the auditorium. Roosevelt said he had no doubt that his contesting delegates, not Taft’s, “were honorably and lawfully chosen by the people.” Taft believed he had 557 delegates, 17 more than he needed. Elihu Root was nominated to be temporary chairman with the quote that Roosevelt called him “the ablest man that has appeared in public life of any country in any position in my time,” and he was elected 558 to 502. Root’s speech praised the achievements of Taft and that the Republican Party would uphold their integrity. Then he criticized Roosevelt. The Credentials Committee also favored Taft, and they approved the actions of the National Committee. Of the 254 contested delegates they awarded 235 to Taft and 19 to Roosevelt. On the floor Barnes led the effort for Taft, and Flinn of Pittsburgh worked for Roosevelt.
      On June 20 Taft indicated he would “yield to a third candidate who stands for my principles, like Hughes or Root,” but he would not accept anyone supporting “Rooseveltism.” A woman asked for “a cheer for Teddy!” and escorting her to the platform touched off a demonstration for Roosevelt that lasted nearly an hour. Then Root called for a vote to unseat Taft delegates that failed. Late that night Gov. Hiram Johnson of California in the Congress Hotel suggested they start a new political party.
      The next day Taft suggested Missouri’s Gov. Herbert Hadley as a compromise candidate, but Roosevelt rejected that. Warren Gamaliel Harding, the former Lt. Gov. of Ohio (1904-06), nominated Taft for President. Conservatives managed to prevent most of Roosevelt’s delegates from being recognized, and many Roosevelt delegates refused to participate in the voting. On the first ballot Taft got 561 votes, Roosevelt 107, La Follette 41, Iowa’s Senator Albert Cummins 17, and Charles Evan Hughes 2. Roosevelt got 53 votes from Illinois and less than 10 in every other state. A total of 344 delegates, who believed that Roosevelt had been cheated, did not vote. Vice President James Sherman was nominated again with 596 votes on the first ballot.
      After the convention Roosevelt at a meeting began his speech, “Thou shalt not steal” and said he would run as a third-party candidate.
      The Democrats National Convention was at Baltimore from June 25 to July 2. William Jennings Bryan helped Woodrow Wilson get the nomination over Champ Clark who was Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Wilson considered Roosevelt more dangerous than Taft who decided to make no speeches other than his acceptance speech. The Democrats advocated an income tax, presidential primaries, election of senators by popular vote, and Federal supervision of railway, telephone, and telegraph companies.
      On June 27 Taft had recommended that the US Congress adopt a budget, but on August 24 they specified that estimated appropriations should be submitted only to Congress. Taft complained that this took away executive power and duty from the President. He ordered his Cabinet officers to submit financial data anyway, and the administration would draft a detailed budget for the fiscal year to begin on 1 July 1913.
      On July 22 Taft wrote to his wife Helen,

I have strengthened the Supreme Court, have given them
a good deal of new and valuable legislation,
have not interfered with business, have kept the peace,
and on the whole have enabled people to pursue
their various occupations without interruption.52

Taft continued to advocate increasing the postal rates on newspapers and magazines because the post office was losing money on them, but he regretted this after the election.
      The Bull Moose Party met at Chicago on August 5 and tried to sell tickets for $10 but had to lower the price to $3. About 10,000 people heard the keynote speech by Albert Beveridge who described progressive policies which aimed to make honest businesses bigger, and he even called for social security for the aged. Roosevelt accepted woman suffrage in the progressive platform.
      During the campaign Taft said he would play the part of a conservative. He considered Roosevelt a greater menace than Wilson, and he noted that in seven and a half years the Roosevelt presidency had brought 44 cases against monopolies while in less than four years his administration had prosecuted 22 such civil suits and gained 45 criminal indictments. Taft declined to support votes for women because he considered it a state question. In this election over a million women would vote in nine western states. Taft had difficulty finding someone to run his campaign, and he finally chose his secretary Charles Dewey Hilles. They raised less than a $1 million compared to most campaigns that had over two or three million. Taft spoke at the official notification of his nomination at Washington on August 1. He criticized Roosevelt and said that his

recently avowed political views would have committed the party to radical proposals involving dangerous changes in our present constitutional form of representative government and our independent judiciary.53

Although he was a conservative, Taft had come to realize that the least government was not always the best government because the duty of government to protect weaker classes was being recognized. New conditions were requiring new policies.
      Urged by Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, President Taft talked “earnestly and energetically” to Mexico’s Ambassador Calero on September 4. Two days later Secretary of State Knox criticized the murder of American citizens in Mexico. He suggested that lifting the arms embargo could help the insurgents.
      On September 19 Taft learned that Santo Domingo was violating its treaty with the United States, and the US State Department advised breaking off diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic. Taft sent General Frank McIntyre and the diplomat Doyle on the USS Prairie with 750 marines. When revolutionaries were overthrowing the Dominican President Victoria on October 29, Secretary of State Knox suggested more warships.
      During a speech at Milwaukee on October 14 Roosevelt was shot in the chest. He managed to finish his speech; but then he rested in a hospital until he spoke again on October 30. On that day the ill Vice President Sherman died. Taft replaced him for the imminent election by choosing Nicholas Murray Butler, the President of Columbia University. On the 31st Louis Seibold of the New York World interviewed Taft and said he would send it to the Associate Press and many newspapers, but Taft had qualms about what he said about his friend Roosevelt and never allowed it to be released.
      The election was on November 5, and Wilson claimed victory at 10:45 p.m. Wilson got 6,286,214 votes, Roosevelt 4,126,020, and Taft 3,483,922. Wilson won in 40 states with 435 electoral votes; Roosevelt took 6 states with 88 electoral votes, while Taft had only Vermont and Utah with 8 electoral votes. The Socialist Eugene Debs did not win a state, but he got 901,551 votes. Roosevelt and Taft together had over half the popular votes. They both conceded; the two friends had defeated each other. Yet Wilson probably would have won against either one. Taft said he would organize a Constitutional Club to educate people on constitutional principles. He felt greatly relieved that his presidency was not going to be renewed.
      On November 16 Taft made a speech to the Lotus Club in New York, and he talked about the powers and obligations of the President. He suggested the executive could be ineligible after one six-year term. His greatest regret was that the Senate did not ratify the arbitration treaties with France and Britain. Andrew Carnegie offered to give former presidents and their widows $25,000 a year, but he declined it as not right. He had received a salary of $75,000 with $25,000 for traveling expenses plus other perquisites. He expected to work as a lawyer. When he attended a meeting of the Yale Corporation the President Hadley offered him a professorship of law to lecture on constitutional and governmental law for a salary of $5,000. He was eager to work on constitutionalism and international peace.
      Taft sent his last annual message to Congress in three parts. In Part 1 on December 3 he discuss foreign relations, and he suggested reorganizing the State Department. He noted successful arbitrations in South America and Central America. He praised the treaties with China. He suggested aid for Central America. He reported that American capital invested in Mexico reached $1 billion. He discussed many issues.
      On December 6 he sent Part 2 “On Fiscal, judicial, Military and Insular Affairs.” The value of the agriculture crop surpassed $1 billion. The general fund increased about $27 million in the past year. He put forward a plan to let the Philippines become independent in eight years. He asked the Congress to give seats to the members of the President’s Cabinet to improve communication. Part 3 on the Post Office, Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce and Labor and District of Columbia was sent on December 19. In this last message to Congress he also wrote that the government could “be given a greater voice.”
      A Conference of Governors in December at Richmond, Virginia discussed Taft’s letter asking for “an adequate financial system as an aid to the farmers of this country.” Taft explained that farmers had borrowed $6 billion paying about 8.5% interest which was much higher than corporations and municipalities paid. The State Department found that rates for agriculture in France and Germany were about 4%. The governors passed resolutions and appointed committees, and they listened to Taft again during a luncheon at the White House on December 11, but Congress failed to act on this. After the Congress recessed for the holidays, Taft left on the battleship Arkansas to go and inspect work on the Panama Canal.
      On February 3 the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution allowing the Federal Government to collect income taxes without apportioning it among the states was ratified after having been proposed by the Congress in 1909. The Congress on 19 May 1912 had approved the 17th Amendment mandating the election of US Senators by the people, and it would be ratified on 8 April 1913.
      On 15 February 1913 Ambassador Wilson and other US diplomats persuaded Mexico’s President Madero to resign. Four days later General Victoriano Huerta sent a telegram to President Taft informing him that he had overthrown the government and had forces who would bring about “peace and prosperity.” Three days later Madero and his Vice President Pino Suárez were killed.
      Taft accompanied Wilson to and from his inauguration on March 4. Taft was proud that he had nominated six of the nine Supreme Court justices including the chief. He joked, “If any of you die, I’ll disown you.”54

      Taft became the President of the League to Enforce Peace on 17 June 1915; but after President Wilson declared war in 1917, Taft supported the war effort. On 3 October 1921 President Harding nominated him to be the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, and he served there until he resigned on 3 February 1930 because of declining health before his death on March 8.


1. William Howard Taft: Confident Peacemaker by David H. Burton, p. 16-17.
2. The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, p. 216.
3. Ibid.
4. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, Volume 1, p. 128-129.
5. Ibid., p. 160-161.
6. Ibid., p. 183.
7. Ibid., p. 184.
8. The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, p. 269.
9. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, Volume 1, p. 199.
10. Ibid., p. 223.
11. Ibid., p. 246.
12. Ibid., p. 247.
13. Ibid., p. 252.
14. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, Volume 1, 307.
15. William Howard Taft: Confident Peacemaker by David H. Burton, p. 43.
16. Ibid., p. 303.
17. Ibid., p. 339, 340.
18. Ibid., p. 341.
19. The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume III ed. David H. Burton, p. 7, 12.
20. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, Volume 1, p. 378.
21. Ibid., p. 381, 382.
22. The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume III ed. David H. Burton, p. 44, 45, 46, 49, 53, 55.
23. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, Volume 1, 421.
24. Ibid., p. 446.
25. Ibid., p. 454.
26. Ibid., p. 467.
27. The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume III ed. David H. Burton, p. 381.
28. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, p. 612.
29. Ibid., p. 492.
30. Ibid., p. 509.
31. Ibid., p. 512.
32. Ibid., p. 513-514.
33. Ibid., p. 678.
34. Ibid., p. 739.
35. Ibid., p. 569.
36. The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume IV ed. David H. Burton, p. 52.
37. Ibid., p. 77.
38. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, p. 714.
39. The Days of a Man: Being Memories of a Naturalist, Teacher and Minor Prophet of Democracy, Volume Two 1900-1921 by David Starr Jordan, p. 410.
40. William Howard Taft: Confident Peacemaker by David H. Burton, p. 140.
41. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft by Henry R. Pringle, Volume 2, p. 589.
42. Ibid., p. 593.
43. Ibid., p. 668.
44. Ibid., p. 669.
45. Ibid., p. 749.
46. Ibid., p. 750.
47. Ibid., p. 649.
48. Ibid., p. 764.
49. Ibid.
50. Ibid., p. 621.
51. Ibid., p. 800.
52. Ibid., p. 603.
53. Ibid., p. 832.
54. Ibid., p. 854.

Copyright © 2022 by Sanderson Beck

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United States & Capitalism 1869-1897 has been published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

Evaluating US Presidents Volume 1: Washington to Lincoln 1789-1865
Evaluating US Presidents Volume 3: Wilson, Harding & Coolidge 1913-1929

US Reconstruction & Johnson 1865-66
US Reconstruction & Johnson 1867-68
US Reconstruction & Grant 1869-72
Grant & United States Depression 1873-77
United States & Hayes 1877-81
United States, Garfield & Arthur 1881-85
United States & Cleveland 1885-89
United States & Harrison 1889-93
US Depression & Cleveland 1893-97
US Capitalists & Socialists 1869-97
US Labor Unions & Railroads 1869-97
Edison, Bell & Inventions 1869-97
US Women Reformers 1869-97
American Philosophy & Religion 1869-97
American Education 1869-97
American Literature 1869-97
US Summary & Evaluation 1869-1897
United States & Capitalism 1869-1897 Bibliography
United States & McKinley’s War 1897-1901
US & Theodore Roosevelt 1901-09
United States & Taft 1909-13
Evaluating US Presidents Summary & Evaluation 1865-1913
Evaluating US Presidents 1865-1913 Bibliography

World Chronology
Chronology of America

BECK index