While many of Taft’s experiences in office could be considered failures and often are remembered as that to history, he did make some interesting contributions to the White House and to politics itself. During this period the postal savings bank was created, one of Taft’s major accomplishments. Also, the parcel post system was created and the Sixteenth Amendment was passed, which put in place the legislature needed to make the collection of income tax a part of American life (Modern America).
The Department of Labor was created during his presidency, and two new states, Arizona and New Mexico, were admitted to the union. Another constitutional amendment that “provided for the direct election of senators” was passed along with the Sixteenth Amendment (Pringle). The end of Taft’s presidential career came at the election of 1912. Theodore Roosevelt, completely outraged with his old friend’s time in office, founded the Progressive Republican Party, dubbed “the Bull Moose Party” after a comment made by Roosevelt about how he was “strong as a bull moose” (The Gilded Age).
By doing so, Roosevelt opened the way for him to run against Taft as a third party on the presidential ticket, creating heartbreak for Taft who felt bad about the end of the friendship with Roosevelt (Pringle). Two others ran for the Presidency as well: Eugene Debs for the Socialist Party and Woodrow Wilson for the Democratic Party. This created a situation where the Republicans split the vote two ways, between Roosevelt and Taft depending on whether they were Progressive or Conservative, giving Wilson an easy win in the election (The Gilded Age, Pringle).
The presidency of William Howard Taft was largely remembered as a failure after his defeat in 1912, something that he perhaps already understood and realized. Before his urging by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, Taft had no interest whatsoever in becoming president, a sentiment best described by himself in a letter to his wife in 1906, “Politics, when I am in it, makes me sick” (Pringle). Taft’s career did not end with the ending of his presidency.
After his loss to Woodrow Wilson in 1912, Taft became a professor at Kent University and later held other positions within politics, such as joint chairman of the National War Labor Board during the First World War, always keeping his eye on returning to his seat as a judge. In 1921 his dream became a reality when he was given the office of Chief Justice on the Supreme Court by President Warren G. Harding. “The court was badly divided when the new chief justice took his place on it.
Taft’s greatest service lay in bringing more harmony and greater efficiency to the court rather than in outstanding contributions to judicial knowledge (Pringle). ” Taft was known to be very conservative in his rulings as Chief Justice, supporting the laws the way they were written, which is exactly what a justice was expected to do. Taft was known as a man who did not let personal opinion influence his rulings and was especially remembered for his support of Prohibition (Pringle).
He was also involved in rulings that opposed heavily taxing companies that used child labor, and his principle interest was in keeping the court moving at a fast pace and not letting dissenting opinions hold the court up (Pringle). His philosophy on his time as a Justice was summed up by him when he said, “I would not think of opposing the views of my brethren if there is a majority against my own” (Pringle). In 1930 Taft’s health took a turn for the worse and he developed heart disease, finally hanging up his robe in February.
A month later, President William Howard Taft died in Washington D. C. The legacy left behind by his time in office was not always pretty but Taft’s time in office was a perfect example of how difficult the times were during the Progressive era. Politics had changed dramatically and the social problems that needed to be fixed by political policy were on the mind of everyone. Parties were incredibly important, so important that a split in a party could cause the entire party to crumble. Taft just happened to take office during a time when he was not able to create a great deal of change.
Simply, he was not a very effective politician and was unable to gain the political clout needed to gain the type of support real change needed (Pringle, William Howard Taft). William Howard Taft’s time in office was shaped drastically by the Progressive Era, not so much because of the accomplishments he made but because of the perceptions others had about the office of the President. Taft followed a very energetic and strong figure, Theodore Roosevelt, and sadly did not live up to the expectations that the Progressive Republicans had for the new President; in fact, he often disappointed them.
During a time when things were changing, he was a man that was dedicated to “not opposing the view of his brethren” (Pringle). Taft was not the type of president that would be progressive in office and therefore his entire time in office was influenced by the era itself. Taft was a conservative president during a progressive time, yet some of his accomplishments in office are still influential in our current society. A great man, a great judge, but an unhappy politician, William Howard Taft made an impact on the Progressive era in many ways.
Pringle, Henry F. “William Howard Taft. ” Encyclopedia Americana. 2006. Grolier Online. 3 Jan. 2007 ;http://ap. grolier. com/article? assetid=0377900-00;. “The Emergence of Modern America. ” National Museum of Modern America. Smithsonian Institution. 4 Jan. 2007 ;http://americanhistory. si. edu/presidency/timeline/pres_era/3_658. html;. “The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. ” The Gilded Age. 2006. 3 Jan. 2007 http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/1.htm