Taft, William Howard


Taft, William Howard
(1857–1930)
   An American politician who served as chief civil administrator in the Philippines (1901–1904), secretary of war (1904–1908), twenty-seventh President of the United States (1909–1913), and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1921–1930). William Howard Taft was born in 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His education was geared toward law and political life, following in his father’s footsteps and graduating from Yale University. He later obtained his law degree from the University of Cincinnati and subsequently entered private practice.
   Taft’s main ambition was to one day be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it was in pursuit of this that he began his political career. In 1900, President McKinley asked Taft to serve as president of the commission to oversee the newly won Philippines. Between 1900 and 1903, Taft was devoted to his work as governor in the Philippines, so much so that he turned down two offers to serve on the Supreme Court from McKinley’s successor, Theodore Roosevelt, so that he could finish what he had started.
   After returning to the United States, Taft became Roosevelt’s secretary of war and quickly gained the president’s full confidence. Roosevelt had sworn not to serve another term and backed Taft’s ascension to the presidency in the belief that Taft would continue his reform programs. Taft shied away from domestic progressivism yet sought to follow through on Roosevelt’s foreign policy. The centerpiece of his approach became known as “Dollar Diplomacy” and involved enhancing American international influence through the use of economic power with the cultivation of trade and the promotion of loans from private banks in support of overseas projects involving American interests. Taft used his dollar diplomacy to protect American interests in the Panama Canal region, buying off Latin American debts to European powers and refinancing Haiti’s debt, setting the stage for future plans there. This policy also extended to Asia, where Taft convinced banks to help finance railroad construction in China in both cooperation and competition with Britain, France, and Germany.
   Although Taft was successful in extending American influence internationally, he caused suspicion and resentment among the European powers involved in China, and his dollar diplomacy did not survive the revolution that erupted in China in 1912. His aversion to progressivism lost him support not only from his own party, but also from the American public. He handily lost his second election, an outcome he was not particularly saddened by. His lifetime dream nonetheless was realized in 1921 when President Warren G. Harding appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Coletta, Paolo E. The Presidency of William Howard Taft. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1973;
    Minger, Ralph Eldin. William Taft and United States Foreign Policy: The Apprenticeship Years, 1900–1908. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975;
    Rosenberg, Emily S. Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy, 1900–1930. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.
   ARTHUR HOLST

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Taft,William Howard — Taft, William Howard. 1857 1930. The 27th President of the United States (1909 1913), whose term was marked by antitrust activity and passage of the Payne Aldrich Tariff Act (1909). He later served as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court… …   Universalium

  • Taft, William Howard — born Sept. 15, 1857, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. died March 8, 1930, Washington, D.C. 27th president of the U.S. (1909–13). He served on the Ohio superior court (1887–90), as U.S. solicitor general (1890–92), and as U.S. appellate judge (1892–1900).… …   Universalium

  • Taft, William Howard — ► (1857 1930) Político y jurisconsulto estadounidense, presidente en 1908 12. Fue partidario del ingreso de E.U.A. en la Sociedad de Naciones. * * * (15 sep. 1857, Cincinnati, Ohio, EE.UU.–8 mar. 1930, Washington, D.C.). Vigésimo séptimo… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • William Howard Taft — For other people named William Howard Taft, see William Howard Taft (disambiguation). William Howard Taft 27th President of the United States In office March 4, 1909 …   Wikipedia

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  • William Howard Taft (disambiguation) — Wikipedia has several articles about people named William Howard Taft:*William Howard Taft, President and Chief Justice of the United States. *William Howard Taft III, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. *William Howard Taft IV, U.S. Deputy Secretary of… …   Wikipedia

  • William Howard Taft — noun 27th President of the United States and later chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1857 1930) • Syn: ↑Taft, ↑President Taft • Instance Hypernyms: ↑President of the United States, ↑United States President, ↑President, ↑Chief… …   Useful english dictionary

  • William Howard Taft IV — (born on September 13 1945 in Washington, D.C., USA) is the son of William Howard Taft III and the great grandson of U.S. President William Howard Taft seealso|Taft family. Taft is an attorney who has served in the United States government under… …   Wikipedia


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