This is the first of a series of posts to help drum up interest in the “This Day in History” topic. I will select some subject that looks interesting from the day and see what others think.
William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was an American politician, the 27th President of the United States, the 10th Chief Justice of the United States, a leader of the progressive conservative wing of the Republican Party in the early twentieth century, a chaired professor at Yale Law School, a pioneer in international arbitration, and a staunch advocate of world peace that verged on pacifism (though the pacifists of his time did not call him one of their own).
I don’t think today’s Republicans would understand the term “progressive conservative.” A near pacifist, a trustbuster, civil service expander, and supporter of a better postal system; Taft represents almost everything that is the antitheses of today’s Republicans.
Taft served as Solicitor General of the United States, a federal judge, Governor-General of the Philippines, and Secretary of War before being nominated for President in the 1908 Republican National Convention with the backing of his predecessor and close friend Theodore Roosevelt.
His presidency was characterized by trust-busting, strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission, expanding the civil service, establishing a better postal system, and promoting world peace. Taft defeated Roosevelt for the Republican nomination in a bruising battle in 1912. In 1921, he became Chief Justice and is the only President to have served on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Despite being a progressive he refused to sign the enabling bill for Arizona’s admission to the Union until some articles of the new state’s constitution were removed, most notably recall and initiative articles. They were removed and then restored after Arizona became a state.
He seems to have had a level of public service rarely seen by any politician today.