The New Student's Reference Work/Taft, William Howard
Taft, William Howard, twenty-sixth president of the United States, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 15, 1857, where in 1880, after graduating with honors from Yale, he began practicing law and became, successively, prosecuting attorney for the county, a judge in the Superior Court, solicitor general of the United States, and from 1892 to 1900 judge of the Federal circuit court, receiving the L.L.D. degree from Yale and becoming dean of the Cincinnati Law School. In 1900 he was made President of the Commission to set up Civil Government in the Philippines. Made Civil Governor in 1901, he rendered distinguished service by establishing a governmental system and settling the friar land problem. Appointed Secretary of War in 1904, he showed equal zeal and ability in promoting the construction of the Panama Canal and aiding in the reconstruction of Cuba. In 1908 he was nominated by the Republicans and elected President by enormous pluralities. Among the most important events of his administration were the passage of the Payne-Aldrich tariff, the acts establishing Postal Savings Banks and the Parcel Post systems, the Canadian reciprocity agreement, and the signing of general arbitration treaties with France and Great Britain. The reciprocity agreement was rejected by the Canadian parliament and the senate failed to ratify the arbitration treaties. The Payne-Aldrich act was severely criticized as a violation of the promise of the platform to reduce the tariff. President Taft was also charged with being hostile to the conservation movement, in connection with which he removed from office Chief Forester Pinchot who made an attack on the record of Secretary Ballinger, of the Interior Department, which led to the latter’s resignation. Owing to dissatisfaction with Mr. Taft’s course, particularly on the tariff and conservation, his party was sharply divided, and after his renomination, what was known as the Progressive wing of the party held a convention of its own, and, as the National Progressive Party, nominated Theodore Roosevelt. The Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, was elected.