TAFT, William Howard, 27th President of the United States: b. Mount Auburn, Cin cinnati, 15 Sept. 1857, son of Judge Alphonso (q.v.) and Louisa M. (Torrey) Taft. After graduating with honors from Yale (1878) he studied law in Cincinnati, being adtnitted to the bar in 1880. From 1881 to 1883 he was as sistant prosecuting attorney in Hamilton County, Ohio, and for a time Collector of Federal In ternal Revenue. From l&S.3 to 1887 he practised law in Cincinnati, after 1885 being assistant county solicitor. In 1886 he married Miss Helen Herron. In 1887 Governor Foralcer ap pointed him to fill an unexpired tenn as judge of the Superior Court. He was later elected for a full term; but in 1890 he was appointed solicitor-general of the United States by Presi dent Harrison. In 1892 he was made a Federal judge of the sixth circuit, a position for which by temperament and training he was admirably fitted, and the work of which he fotmd most congenial.
On 12 March 1900 President McKinley chose him to head a commission to establish civil governinent in the Philippines, and on 4 July 1901 he became first civil governor. Taft ac cepted both appointments at the expense of his personal preference for a career on the bench, being influenced by a deep sense of respon sibility toward and a genuine affection for the Filipinos. In 1902 Roosevelt twice offered him an appointment to the Supreme Bench of the United States, but he put aside what has been his chief personal ambition because he felt his immediate duty was to continue in the islands. As an executive his work was highly successful. In 1902 he conducted at Rome the important negotiations for the purchase of the Catholic Fnars' lands. To a remarkable' degree he won the confidence and affection of the Filipinos, though he disappointed ntany by. his frank statement that in his judgment it might be two generations before they would be ready for complete self-government. He believed in °The Philippines for the Filipinos," and opposed ex ploitation primarily in the interest of American capital. He urged tariff concessions for Philip pine products.
,40n 1 Feb. 1904 he became Roosevelt's Sec retary of War, and for over four years was engaged in such important enterprises as the building of the Panama Canal. In 1906, when disorders called for American intervention, he was sent to Cuba, and for a time acted as provisional governor. In 1907 he visited Cuba and Panama, and later Japan and China, going to the Philippines for the opening of the legis lative assembly, and returning by way of Rus sia. In 1906-13 he acted as president of the reorganized American Red Cross.
By 1907 Roosevelt was exerting his influence to secure the Republican nomination for his Secretary of War, whom he described as pos sessing aa standard of absolutely unflinching rectitude on every point of public duty, and a literally dauntless courage and willingness to bear responsibility," besides a knowledge of men, tact and kindliness. Nominated on the
first ballot, June 1908, Taft resigned as Secre tary. The campaign with Bryan was fought largely on the issue of continuing the °Roose velt policies," the President declaring that Taft was °the man who I feel is in an especial sense the representative of all that in which I most believe in political life." With this recommen dation, and on the strength of his ideal train ing for the office, Taft was given 321 electoral votes to Bryan's 162.
As President he lacked the magnetism and dramatic force of his predecessor. In general he took a moderate position on public questions. We middle-of-the-road people," he said (1911), 'who are not extremists are, we believe, the real Progressives, because you do not make progress by great strides; you make progress i step by step." His position on important issues may be summarized as follows: (1) In con nection with the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Bill he used his influence in favor of downward revi sion to a protective basis, just sufficient to cover the difference in 'cost of production be tween here and abroad. Though not satisfied with some provisions, he signed and defended the law as the best ever passed. He favored further revision on the basis of reports to be made by a tariff commission; and he vetoed later revisions of several schedules largely be cause they were not based on such reports. He worked for reciprocity with Canada. (2) On conservation his fundamental views were not so different from those of the Progressives as they seemed to believe. He hesitated, how ever, to stretch the executive power, and Con gress was slow to give him the power he re quested. Unfortunately his support of Secre tary Ballinger against Roosevelt's friend, Pinchot, appeared to place him in opposition to the policies of his predecessor. (3) In the matter of railroad and 'trust regulation he favored strict enforcement of existing law and his administration secured the dissolution of the Standard Oil and Tobacco trusts. He urged the clarification of the Sherman law and favored Federal charters for corporations doing interstate business. (4) He was opposed to the more radical schemes of direct popular government, in particular the °recall of ju dicial decisions." (5) He favored and ex tended civil service reform, worked for effi ciency and economy in government, especially urging a budget system and advocating pen sions for Federal employees. (6) In foreign affairs he worked heartily for peace, negotiat ing treaties for arbitration and the judicial set tlement of international difficulties, which were rejected by the Senate. By °dollar diplomacy" the administration sought to secure opportuni ties for trade and the investment of capital. This policy was denounced by some as leading to imperialistic interference in the affairs of weaker nations, and making government di plomacy a mere agent of big business.