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The William Howard Taft Presidency
     

The William Howard Taft Presidency

4.0 1
by Lewis L. Gould
 

The only president to later serve as chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft remarked in the 1920s that "I don't remember that I ever was President." Historians have agreed, and Taft is usually portrayed, when written about at all, as nothing more than a failed chief executive. In this provocative new study, the first treatment of the Taft

Overview


The only president to later serve as chief justice of the United States, William Howard Taft remarked in the 1920s that "I don't remember that I ever was President." Historians have agreed, and Taft is usually portrayed, when written about at all, as nothing more than a failed chief executive. In this provocative new study, the first treatment of the Taft presidency in four decades, Lewis L. Gould presents a compelling assessment of Taft's accomplishments and setbacks in office. Rich in human interest and fresh analysis of the events of Taft's four years in Washington, Gould's book shows why Taft's presidency is very much worth remembering on its own terms.

Gould argues that Taft wanted to be president and had an ambitious agenda when he took power in March 1909. Approaching his duties more as a judge than as a charismatic executive in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt, Taft soon found himself out of step with public opinion. Gould shows how the Payne-Aldrich Tariff and the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy squandered Taft's political capital and prepared the ground for Democratic victories in the elections of 1910 and 1912. His seamless narrative provides innovative treatments of these crucial episodes to make Taft's presidency more understandable than in any previous account. On Canadian Reciprocity, Dollar Diplomacy, and international arbitration, Gould's well-researched work goes beyond earlier stale clichs about Taft's administration to link his tenure to the evolution of the modern presidency. Taft emerges as a hard-working but flawed executive who lacked the excitement of Theodore Roosevelt or the inspiration of Woodrow Wilson.

The break with Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 doomed the Taft presidency, and Gould supplies an evenhanded analysis of the erosion of their once warm friendship. At bottom, the two men clashed about the nature of presidential power, and Gould traces with insight how this personal and ideological rupture influenced the future of the Republican party and the course of American politics. In Gould's skilled hands, this neglected presidency again comes alive. Leaving the White House in 1913, Taft wrote that "the people of the United States did not owe me another election." What his presidency deserved is the lively and wise appraisal of his record in office contained in this superb book.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This is the best informed and most judicious study yet published about the Taft presidency. Gould has poured into this short book the product of his impressive research and extensive reflection about the politics of the progressive period, Taft’s uncomfortable role therein, and not the least Taft’s controversial relationship with Theodore Roosevelt.”—John Morton Blum, author of The Republican Roosevelt and The Progressive Presidents “Gould effectively and evenhandedly examines the sweet as well as the sour of this presidency, balancing Taft’s intelligence, integrity, and efficiency on one side with a surprising impulsiveness and lack of intimate, reliable political advice on the other.”—John Milton Cooper, author of Pivotal Decades: The United States 1900–1920 “Impressively researched, judiciously argued, and gracefully written, this book is full of humor as well as wisdom. Most important, it offers a thorough, balanced account of the Taft presidency that is sure to become the standard work on the subject and a valuable resource for the next generation of scholars.”—Bruce J. Schulman, author of Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s “Quite simply, the best book ever written about the Taft presidency. Gould’s mastery of the sources, command of early twentieth-century politics, and sage judgments make this book an indispensable guide to our too often forgotten 27th president.”—Richard J. Ellis, author of Founding the American Presidency and Presidential Travel: The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700616749
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
10/08/2009
Series:
American Presidency Series
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
524,609
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Lewis L. Gould's many books include The Modern American Presidency, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, The Presidency of William McKinley, and most recently Four Hats in the Ring: The 1912 Election and the Birth of Modern American Politics. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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The William Howard Taft Presidency 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Patch1418 More than 1 year ago
In reading this book about Preisent Taft,I'm rteminded that,he was the Person to be both President & Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.No has done it since.The author goes into great detail explaining many misunderstood facts about him as presdident. When asked many years later,about being President,he stated"I almost had forgotten that I was ever President"If you are a "student"of the american presidents.Then is is a good book to start with.He is most proud of the things he did ,while on the Supreme Court.Appointed as Chief Justice by President Warren G Harding in 1921,he felt,personally,that this was what he had always to do. Being President,wasn't his idea,it was his wife Nellie,who "pushed" him to run as the hand picked secessor to popular President Teddy Roosevelt.Long story short,it didn't work.However,he did overcome many obstacles,that today,history has rewritten,it's final view of the many great things that he did. Read the book,see for yourself.