William Howard Taft

27th President


Born September 15, 1857 near Cincinnati, Ohio into the powerful Taft family, he grew up in the Unitarian religion. Later in life, Taft attended Yale College up in New Haven and while there was given many names based on his weight such as "Big Lub". While in school he was a good dancer, golfer and heavyweight wrestling champion of the school. He graduated in 1878 as the second in his class out of 121. He then continued on to Cincinnati Law School to attain his Bachelor of Laws graduating in 1880. In 1904, Roosevelt appointed him as the Secretary of War and allowed him to remain involved with the Philippines as long as he supported Roosevelt in the presidential election that year.
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Political Philosophy

One of the many Republican presidents, Taft was a stark contrast to Theodore Roosevelt who had been before him. He would act more in debt to the political machinery than to public mandate. Rather than following the progressive policies set by Roosevelt, Taft instead broke up nearly twice as many trusts as Roosevelt had. He stuck to the Republican tradition and didn't see himself as the embodiment of the people's hopes and dreams and stuck to the politics.

How Taft Dealt with Imperialism

Taft was was very for imperialism and the spread of U.S. to other countries and becoming involved with foreign affairs. The only area that Taft pursued the actions of Roosevelt were in expanding America's influence abroad. He urged Wall Street investors to invest money in foreign markets in order to increase American influence abroad. He encouraged the support of the lesser Latin American countries and followed the Monroe Doctrine in supporting them. The goal of Dollar Diplomacy was to keep foreign powers from gaining or enlarging an investment foothold in key markets. Dollar diplomacy primarily focused on the Manchurian region of China. Taft believed if he controlled this main railroad area, he would control the economy of China and without an interest in the railroad system, the "open door" policy in China would be undermined. The belief behind dollar diplomacy was that if American investors were firmly planted in foreign markets, it would prevent rivals such as Germany from asserting their dominance in that key market area. A key element in this imperialistic expansion was the promotion of financial security for the United States and other western hemisphere countries. While he was president, the U.S. stepped in and advised Caribbean countries on ways to more efficiently manage their economic affairs. However, this didn't completely fix the problems so the U.S. took a more active role in making sure the affairs were appropriately handled. When the U.S. took over a country they would improve it, however that was all a waste when they returned control to the country's government and due to the interference at all, many Latin American countries began to resent America. During his presidency, the Senate passes a resolution for the sixteenth amendment, authorizing the collection of income taxes and he signs the Payne-Aldrich Tax, reducing the tariff. These were two major imperialism pieces because they increased the amount of foreign business for America and allowed us to trade and spread what we made in the process of receiving from others.

"No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people."

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Accomplishments & Impact

  • Taft carried on Theodore Roosevelt's fervor for trust-busting and broke up nearly twice as many as Roosevelt had. He also strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission and its ability to negotiate rates with railroads. He was able to undertake civil service reform and improved the performance of the postal service. Previously mentioned, he passed the Sixteenth Amendment codifying the federal government's authority to tax income without enforcing it among the states. Foreign accomplishments included promoting "Dollar Diplomacy," which involved the US coordination of loans for infrastructure improvements abroad, to further the economic development of Latin American and Asian nations. He spread influence by dispatching troops to safeguard U.S. citizens and property when revolution threatened in Honduras and Nicaragua, and decided not to interfere with the revolutions taking place in Mexico and China. His biggest impacts on today include the passing of 16th and 17th Amendments and the addition of income taxes as well as his want for change on tariffs to expand foreign business.