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The William Howard Taft Presidency (American Presidency)
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > #27 (US) WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT (PRESIDENT) 1909 - 1913

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 35548 comments Mod
William Howard Taft

Distinguished jurist, effective administrator, but poor politician, William Howard Taft spent four uncomfortable years in the White House. Large, jovial, conscientious, he was caught in the intense battles between Progressives and conservatives, and got scant credit for the achievements of his administration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: The White House Biography

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presi...


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Thanks for the post, Bentley.

The following looks like a good read, written by one of the best in the field:

The William Howard Taft Presidency (American Presidency Series) by Lewis L. Gould by Lewis L. Gould


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 35548 comments Mod
You are most welcome. Slowly but surely we are adding a thread for each president. We are almost complete. Thank you very much for your add. It is an excellent addition.


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Alisa (MsTaz) | 5643 comments This appears to highlight his term on the US Supreme Court which was post-Presidency.
William Howard Taft, the President Who Became Chief Justice, by William. SevernWilliam Howard Taft, the President Who Became Chief Justice,by William. Severn


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 35548 comments Mod
Thank you Alisa for the add.


message 6: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Yes, thank you indeed. There are very, very few books that cover just this period of his life, sadly.

It seems Taft really only wanted to be a judge and not president. Evidently, his wife steered him toward politics.

Here is the other:
William Howard Taft by Alpheus Thomas Mason by Alpheus Thomas Mason

Here is the Univ Kansas Press on his presidency:
The Presidency of William Howard Taft (American Presidency Series) by Paolo Enrico Coletta by Paolo Enrico Coletta

Pringle is a historian that focused on this time period, and here is his 2 volume on Taft:
The Life & Times of William Howard Taft by Henry F. PringleHenry F. Pringle
Publisher info:
It is not improbably that William Howard Taft would disapprove of certain parts of this biography. Outwardly, he was the soul of decorum; too much so, perhaps, for his own good. Beneath the decorum, however, was a man with very pronounced views. He had emphatic opinions about people as well as issues and these opinions were often set forth in his private letters. “Confidential and personal” was the warning on many of his communications. Taft would have been scandalized had they been published while he was alive.
This life of Taft is authorized but not official. The distinction is vital. The author was given unrestricted access to all the hundreds of thousands of letters in the Taft collection at the Library of Congress and to all other available material. This was due entirely to the very unusual position taken by Robert, Charles and Helen Taft (Mrs. Frederick J Manning). They are the owners of their father’s papers and are his literary executors. They permitted the author to wander at will through the enormous treasure house which the collection is. He could quote as he pleased. He could draw what judgments he liked. The sole restriction was the logical one against involving the Taft estate in a libel suit. This book, then, has no trace of official, family endorsement. The literary executors did not even ready the manuscript in its present, final, revised form. (From Pringle’s foreword, continued in volume two.)

Here is one that covers his personal and political life:
William Howard Taft An Intimate History by Judith Icke Anderson by Judith Icke Anderson


Elizabeth (Alaska) William Howard Taft by Donald F. Anderson Donald F. Anderson

which I add only because, again, this is one of my library's holdings.


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Great Elizabeth, thanks so much! I haven't heard about this one.


message 9: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Dec 09, 2010 12:14PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) William Howard Taft by Donald F. Anderson Donald F. Anderson


My library shows a subtitle

William Howard Taft: a conservative's conception of the Presidency


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Elizabeth (Alaska) wrote: "William Howard Taft by Donald F. Anderson Donald F. Anderson


My library shows a subtitle

William Howard Taft: a conservative's conception of the Presidency"


Helpful; it would be an interesting read, possibly more favorable.


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Alisa (MsTaz) | 5643 comments More additions, yay! I become more intrigued about him with everything I learn, and admittedly some of it has been not so positive. Tim Egan paints a fairly unflattering picture of him in this book, which covers the west's largest forest fire ever and occured on his watch. The book covers far more info on TR, but was still a great read and covers some info on Taft as well. It does feed into the notion that Taft was more interested in the US Supreme Court than the Presidency, which I find all the more intriguing because I think he was the only one to have made that leap.
The Big Burn Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Eganby Timothy EganTimothy Egan


message 12: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Alisa wrote: "More additions, yay! I become more intrigued about him with everything I learn, and admittedly some of it has been not so positive. Tim Egan paints a fairly unflattering picture of him in this bo..."

Thanks, Alisa, it looks like a good book. From what I have read, his wife, Helen, was a pushing him into politics and the presidency. TR probably helped too. I wonder if he ate food to compensate for his unhappiness...just a wild idea.


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Alisa (MsTaz) | 5643 comments He may have. Egan seems to suggest the more miserable he was the bigger he grew. One could preceed the other, just not sure in what order.


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Alisa (MsTaz) | 5643 comments Bryan wrote: "Alisa wrote: "More additions, yay! I become more intrigued about him with everything I learn, and admittedly some of it has been not so positive. Tim Egan paints a fairly unflattering picture of ..."

It was a great book, a real page turner and story well told.


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Here is a new book I got this year:

The William Howard Taft Presidency (American Presidency Series) by Lewis L. Gould by Lewis L. Gould

It is part of the University of Kansas Press series, although I thought they covered it with another writer. Odd.

Product info:
The only president to later serve as chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft remarked in the 1920s that "I don't remember that I ever was President." Historians have agreed, and Taft is usually portrayed, when written about at all, as nothing more than a failed chief executive. In this provocative new study, the first treatment of the Taft presidency in four decades, Lewis L. Gould presents a compelling assessment of Taft's accomplishments and setbacks in office. Rich in human interest and fresh analysis of the events of Taft's four years in Washington, Gould's book shows why Taft's presidency is very much worth remembering on its own terms.

Gould argues that Taft wanted to be president and had an ambitious agenda when he took power in March 1909. Approaching his duties more as a judge than as a charismatic executive in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt, Taft soon found himself out of step with public opinion. Gould shows how the Payne-Aldrich Tariff and the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy squandered Taft's political capital and prepared the ground for Democratic victories in the elections of 1910 and 1912. His seamless narrative provides innovative treatments of these crucial episodes to make Taft's presidency more understandable than in any previous account. On Canadian Reciprocity, Dollar Diplomacy, and international arbitration, Gould's well-researched work goes beyond earlier stale clichés about Taft's administration to link his tenure to the evolution of the modern presidency. Taft emerges as a hard-working but flawed executive who lacked the excitement of Theodore Roosevelt or the inspiration of Woodrow Wilson.

The break with Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 doomed the Taft presidency, and Gould supplies an evenhanded analysis of the erosion of their once warm friendship. At bottom, the two men clashed about the nature of presidential power, and Gould traces with insight how this personal and ideological rupture influenced the future of the Republican party and the course of American politics. In Gould's skilled hands, this neglected presidency again comes alive. Leaving the White House in 1913, Taft wrote that "the people of the United States did not owe me another election." What his presidency deserved is the lively and wise appraisal of his record in office contained in this superb book.


message 16: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (last edited Dec 10, 2010 06:10AM) (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Here is a book on Taft's view on foreign policy:

William Howard Taft Confident Peacemaker by David Burton by David Henry Burton

Product info:
This book is a study of the internationalism of William Howard Taft. In the months after war broke out in 1914, Taft was second only to Woodrow Wilson in his awareness of the need to preserve the peace of the world through a new version of international organization. Built upon a synthetic interpretation of Taft's foreign policy ideas and initiatives, the book encompasses the whole of his public career as a statesman, from his years as civil governor of the Philippines through his tenure as chief justice of the Supreme Court. During those years, he moved from a basic belief in the theory and practice of balance of power to the application of dollar diplomacy. In response to the calamity of World War I, Taft came to recognize that world peace must be based upon a combination of idealism and realism, of high-minded principles placed and kept in effect by force, deliberately chosen and carefully applied.


message 17: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
If you ever need to look at the primary sources, the Ohio University Press has been putting them together in a great way:

Collected Works Taft, Vol. 1 Four Aspects Of Civic Duty & Present Day Problems by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 2 Political Issues & Outlooks by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 3 Presendential Addresses & State Papers by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 4 Presendential Messages To Congress by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 5 Popular Government & Anti-Trust Act & Supreme Court by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 6 President & His Powers & United States & Peace by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 7 Taft Papers On League Of Nations by William Howard Taft Collected Works Taft, Vol. 8 Liberty Under Law & Selected Supreme Court Opinions by William Howard Taft by William Howard TaftWilliam Howard Taft


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Alisa (MsTaz) | 5643 comments The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

The Bully Pulpit Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns GoodwinDoris Kearns Goodwin

Synopsis
After Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin wields her magic on another larger-than-life president, and another momentous and raucous American time period as she brings Theodore Roosevelt, the muckraking journalists, and the Progressive Era to life.
As she focused on the relationship between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Lincoln and his Team, Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft. With the help of the “muckraking” press—including legendary journalists Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens, William Allen White, and editor Sam McClure—Roosevelt had wielded the Bully Pulpit to challenge and triumph over abusive monopolies, political bosses, and corrupting money brokers. Roosevelt led a revolution that he bequeathed to Taft only to see it compromised as Taft surrendered to money men and big business. The rupture between the two led Roosevelt to run against Taft for president, an ultimately futile race that resulted in the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson and the diminishment of Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive wing of the Republican Party.

Like Goodwin’s chronicles of the Civil War and the Great Depression, The Bully Pulpit describes a time in our history that enlightened and changed the country, ushered in the modern age, and produced some unforgettable men and women.


message 19: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Very cool, thanks


message 20: by Mark (new)

Mark Mortensen William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency 1909-1913


William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency, 1909-1913 by Michael L. BromleyMichael L. Bromley

Synopsis
William Howard Taft declared, "I am sure the automobile coming in as a toy of the wealthier class is going to prove the most useful of them all to all classes, rich and poor." Unlike his predecessors, who made public their disdain for the automobile, Taft saw the automobile industry as a great source of wealth for this country. The first president to acquire a car in office (Congress granted him three automobiles), Taft is responsible for there being a White House garage in 1909. This is a meticulously researched reappraisal of the oft-maligned Taft presidency focusing particularly on his cars, his relationship to the automobile and the role of the automobile in the politics of his day. Appendices provide information on the White House garage and stable, Taft's speech to the Automobile Club of America and a glossary of terms and names.


message 21: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Thanks Mark


message 22: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Helen Taft: C-SPAN's First Ladies: Influence & Image:

http://firstladies.c-span.org/FirstLa...


message 23: by Greg (new)

Greg Strandberg (GregStrandberg) | 23 comments Alisa wrote: " The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

Just got that for Christmas. I'm reminded a lot of when I got Team of Rivals several years before. This one should be just as good.

The Bully Pulpit Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwinby Doris Kearns GoodwinDoris Kearns Goodwin


message 24: by Bryan, Honorary Contributor - EMERITUS (last edited Jan 02, 2014 07:37AM) (new) - added it

Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
I got this book for Christmas, too, Greg, and I am on chapter two.

I am really happy that someone of this stature is writing about Taft. I would love to see a cradle to grave biography of him come out.

The Bully Pulpit Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns GoodwinDoris Kearns Goodwin


message 25: by Greg (new)

Greg Strandberg (GregStrandberg) | 23 comments Yeah, all I ever really heard about him while in school was that he was big, and of course teachers could always get a laugh out of the bathtub story.

I'm just on chapter 1, but I can't help but feel here's a guy that should never have been president, should have just gone right to the Supreme Court, which is what he always wanted.

Still, I do get the sense as well that he was an able president. I really need to get cracking on this book!


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Indeed, Greg, his father liked being a judge, so it seems he got that same sense, too.


message 27: by TH (new)

TH | 2 comments I just started The BULLY PULPIT by Goodwin. I love TR and look forward to reading more about the split between TR and TAFT.


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Great, TH, let us know how it goes. The two of them seem very different people.

Don't forget to cite:

The Bully Pulpit Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns GoodwinDoris Kearns Goodwin


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative

William Howard Taft The Travails of a Progressive Conservative by Jonathan Lurie by Jonathan Lurie (no photo)

Synopsis:

In this new biographical study of the only American ever to have been both President and Chief Justice of the United States, Jonathan Lurie reassesses William Howard Taft's multiple careers, which culminated in Taft's election to the presidency in 1908 as the chosen successor to Theodore Roosevelt. By 1912, however, the relationship between Taft and Roosevelt had ruptured. Lurie reexamines the Taft-Roosevelt friendship and concludes that it rested on flimsy ground. He also places Taft in a progressive context, taking Taft's own self-description as a believer in progressive conservatism as the starting point. At the end of his biography, Lurie concludes that this label is accurate when applied to Taft.


message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 35548 comments Mod
Thanks Bryan for keeping up the Presidential Series threads.


message 31: by Jerome (new)

Jerome | 3841 comments An upcoming book:
Release date: November 3, 2014

Chief Executive to Chief Justice: Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court

Chief Executive to Chief Justice Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court by Lewis L. Gould by Lewis L. Gould (no photo)

Synopsis:

As our 27th president from 1909 to 1913, and then as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930, William Howard Taft was the only man ever to lead two of America's three governing branches. But between these two well-documented periods in office, there lies an eight-year patch of largely unexplored political wilderness. It was during this time, after all, that Taft somehow managed to rise from his ignominious defeat by both Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election to achieve his lifelong goal of becoming chief justice.

In the first in-depth look at this period in Taft's singular career, eminent presidential historian Lewis L. Gould reveals how a man often derided for his lack of political acumen made his way through the hazards of Republican affairs to gain his objective. In the years between the presidency and the Supreme Court Taft was, as one commentator observed, "the greatest of globe trotters for humanity." Gould tracks him as he crisscrosses the country from 1913 through the summer of 1921, the inveterate traveler reinventing himself as an elder Republican statesman with no visible political ambition beyond informing and serving the public. Taft was, however, working the long game, serving on the National War Labor Board, fighting for the League of Nations, teaching law and constitutional history at Yale, making up his differences with Roosevelt, all while negotiating the Republican Party's antipathy and his own intense dislike of Woodrow Wilson, whose wartime policies and battle for the league he was bound to support. Throughout, his judicial ambition shaped his actions, with surprising adroitness.

This account of Taft's journey from the White House to the Supreme Court fills a large gap in our understanding of an important American politician and jurist. It also discloses how intricate and complicated public affairs had become during the era of World War I and its aftermath, an era in which William Howard Taft, as a shrewd commentator on the political scene, a resourceful practitioner of party politics, and a man of consummate ambition, made a significant and lasting mark.


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Thanks, Jerome, this should be good.


message 33: by Jerome (new)

Jerome | 3841 comments Helen Taft: Our Musical First Lady

Helen Taft Our Musical First Lady by Lewis L. Gould by Lewis L. Gould (no photo)

Synopsis:

In this fascinating study, Lewis L. Gould has brought a shadowy first lady into the light and restored her to a rightful place as a patron of music. Helen Herron Taft came to the White House intent on establishing Washington, D.C., as the nation's cultural capital. A stroke in May 1909 made her a semi-invalid, impaired her speech, and disrupted her agenda. Historians have written her off as a shrewish figure who pushed her portly husband into the presidency.

Gould challenges this outdated narrative with new information on Helen Taft's campaign to bring the best of classical music to the White House during her four years. He draws on prodigious research about the musicians who performed there--including violinist Fritz Kreisler, pianist Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler, and contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink, and reveals for the first time how Nellie Taft enlisted a diverse array of top-notch artists for her musicales, recitals, and social events. The result is a major contribution to a better understanding of the White House as a cultural center at the turn of the last century.

Beyond her musical agenda, Helen Taft enhanced the appearance of Washington with the planting of the cherry trees from Japan that now bloom each spring. Gould also delves with insight into Mrs. Taft's role in the politics of her husband's administration. He provides the most complete recounting into her part in the dismissal of Henry White as ambassador to France, a key moment in the emergence of her husband's split with Theodore Roosevelt. He discusses the nature of her stroke, based on letters from her husband and her doctors, and reveals how Mrs. Taft, her daughter Helen, and the journalist Eleanor Egan crafted the first ever memoir of any first lady. Drawing on memoirs and manuscripts not used before, Gould re-creates memorable occasions at the Taft White House, when dramatist Ruth Draper delivered her monologues, Charles Coburn staged Shakespeare on the White House lawn, and Lady Augusta Gregory of the Irish Players dropped by.

Gould's path-breaking study of Helen Taft is a significant addition to the literature on first ladies and a tribute to a complex and brave woman who overcame illness and adversity to leave her own special imprint on the history of the White House.


message 34: by Jerome (new)

Jerome | 3841 comments Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era

Nellie Taft The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era by Carl Sferrazza Anthony by Carl Sferrazza Anthony (no photo)

Synopsis:

On the morning of William Howard Taft's inauguration, Nellie Taft publicly expressed that theirs would be a joint presidency by shattering precedent and demanding that she ride alongside her husband down Pennsylvania Avenue, a tradition previously held for the outgoing president. In an era before Eleanor Roosevelt, this progressive First Lady was an advocate for higher education and partial suffrage for women, and initiated legislation to improve working conditions for federal employees. She smoked, drank, and gambled without regard to societal judgment, and she freely broke racial and class boundaries.

Drawing from previously unpublished diaries, a lifetime of love letters between Will and Nellie, and detailed family correspondence and recollections, critically acclaimed presidential family historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony develops a riveting portrait of Nellie Taft as one of the strongest links in the series of women -- from Abigail Adams to Hillary Rodham Clinton -- often critically declared "copresidents."


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
Thanks Jerome, all good additions.


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Bryan Craig | 11689 comments Mod
My Dearest Nellie: The Letters of William Howard Taft to Helen Herron Taft, 1909-1912

My Dearest Nellie The Letters of William Howard Taft to Helen Herron Taft, 1909-1912 by William H. Taft by William H. Taft (no photo)

Synopsis:

Few presidential couples enjoyed a closer relationship in the White House than Will and Nellie Taft. Throughout William Howard Taft's rise in American politics, she had been his most intimate confidant. When circumstances separated them, as when Helen Herron Taft became incapacitated by a stroke and was unable to accompany the president on his storied travels—or was herself on recuperative trips—she pressed him for letters, and he obliged with gossipy correspondence that provides a fascinating account of his presidency at decisive moments in his single term.

These 113 letters, all but a few never before published, represent a rare glimpse into the mind of a chief executive speaking candidly about individuals and issues. In them, Taft commented on political issues he encountered and decisions he made-as well as his growing disillusion with Theodore Roosevelt, his unhappiness with Congress, and his struggles with his weight and golf score. Breathing new life into a bygone era in all of its complexity and humanity, they also open a new window on Washington early in the twentieth century—providing Taft's reactions not only to social figures of the Progressive Era but also to the impact of innovations like the automobile and rudimentary air conditioning.

Sometimes indiscreet and frustrated with his political prospects, Taft comes through as a man who worked hard at a job for which he was not well suited. Indeed, Taft has been written off as a failed chief executive who was pushed into office by his wife; yet, as he insisted to Nellie, he was a creditable chief executive confronted with a changing political environment. Taft's letters may not warrant calling him a great president, but they reveal a more thoughtful occupant of the White House than scholars have acknowledged.

Other than those that Harry Truman wrote to Bess, there is no comparable archive of modern presidential letters to a spouse that equals the letters to "Dearest Nellie" that Will Taft sent. Edited and introduced by a leading historian of the Progressive Era, Taft's letters not only reveal the inner workings of a presidency at decisive moments but also humanize a chief executive to whom history has been less than kind.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The William Howard Taft Presidency (other topics)
William Howard Taft, The President Who Became Chief Justice (other topics)
William Howard Taft: An Intimate History (other topics)
The Presidency of William Howard Taft (other topics)
William Howard Taft: Chief Justice (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Lewis L. Gould (other topics)
Bill Severn (other topics)
Henry F. Pringle (other topics)
Alpheus Thomas Mason (other topics)
Judith Icke Anderson (other topics)
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