Progressive Presidents

Superhero or Villain?

Captain Conservative - Power to the People

William H. Taft, Roosevelt's handpicked successor and my superhero, was a president in the Progressive era that is known for his record of supporting reforms. He is recognized for accomplishing a greater number of reforms in his four years in office than in Roosevelt's seven. He made the first tariff revision since 1897, improved Roosevelt's conservation work, advanced railroad regulation, and began an antitrust crusade. His administration created the postal savings bank and parcel post systems, added two states to the Union and two amendments to the Constitution, almost completed the Panama Canal, regulated corporate campaign contributions, and strengthened the Pure Food and Drug Act.

Shermanator - "Dirt" is my Forte

Ida Tarbell, a widely known Muckraker and Captain Conservative's (Taft's) sidekick, wrote The History of the Standard Oil Company inspiring many others to write about the antitrust crusade. She ultimately helped support Taft's cause, who passed 90 antitrust lawsuits himself, by helping push the Sherman Antitrust Act busting the monopoly of the Standard Oil Company.

The Bull Moose - The Enemy

Theodore Roosevelt becomes Captain Conservative's (Taft's) evil nemesis in many ways:

1. Split Republican Party in 1912 by running against Taft on Progressive Party ticket because Taft didn’t continue the Progressive reforms he began

2. “Big Stick” Diplomacy to control weaker nations (corruption found at all levels of government)

3. Didn’t want to completely abandon control of government, so he handpicked Taft to be president, certain he would continue the Progressive reforms he began (Politician took bribes and gave them/elections were rigged)

4. “Stewardship theory”- can do anything the Constitution did not forbid

5. Trust busting- believed he had the right as president (or in Taft’s case, controlling the president) to bring large corporations to court and break them up because they were harming the people and he believed in strong presidential power

Super Tools - Defeating the Enemy

1. Publicity Act: required political parties to account for the money spent on federal campaigns

2. Dollar Diplomacy: encouraged U.S. banks and businesses to make investments abroad

3. Payne-Aldrich Tariff: raised tariffs on almost all products, however, he wasn’t in support of many progressive reforms Roosevelt wanted passed

4. Mann-Elkins Act of 1910: gave power to the Interstate Commerce Commission to suspend railroad hikes and set rates

5. Division of the Department of Commerce and Labor

6. Sixteenth Amendment: income tax

7. Seventeenth Amendment: direct election of senators

8. Pinchot-Ballinger: final split between Roosevelt and Taft


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