William H. Taft

By: Sydnie Harmon and Erika Carvan

Early Life

Taft was born September 15, 1857 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Yale University and finished second in his class. After studying law at the Cincinnati Law School, he recieved his law degree in 1880 and was then admitted to the Ohio Bar. Taft held many public offices before he became an Ohio superior court judge in 1887. In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison named Taft U.S. solicitor general and nominated him for a seat on the Sixth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Taft was also named governor of Philippines.

Political Career

He was Republican Nominated President. Taft easily defeated William Jennings Bryan in the November election. Taft indicated he wanted to continue the Progressive Programs and policies of his predecessor. He soon alienated progressives in Congress. In his only term his domestic agenda emphasized trust-busting, civil service reform, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, and improving the performance of postal service. He sought to further the economic development of nations in Latin America and Asia through "Dollar Diplomacy". He showed decisiveness in restraint in response to revolution in Mexico, and he wanted to promote world peace.


The government activities seeking to dissolve corporate trusts and monopolies. Taft was known as the "Great Trust Buster". He had more trust prosecutions than Roosevelt did.

Examples: the American Tobacco Company, the American Sugar Refining Company, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.

Civil Service Reform

The substitution of business principles and methods for political methods in the conduct of the civil service esp. the merit system instead of the spoil system. He broadend civil service protection for a number of government workers. Before he did that they had been political appointments that were subject to dismissal at the end of each administration. He did this notably for the post masters.

Interstate Commerce Commission

The governmental commission charged with making and enforcing regulations concerning interstate commerce. A postal savings system was established and the Interstate Commerce Commission was directed to set railroad rates.

Postal Service

He instituted postal savings banks and parcel posts, the Bureau of Mines and the Childrens Bureau.

Dollar Diplomacy

Taft was keenly active in furthering economic development throughout the world as means of prosperity to under-developed nations, coining the term "Dollar Diplomacy". One of his main goals throughout his presidency was to promote world peace. Taft tried to accomplish world peace by ratifying arbitration treaties with Britain and France.

What made Taft memorable?

He was the largest president we have ever had. He got stuck in his bathtub.