|Born||8 Sep 1889|
|Died||31 Jul 1953|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseRobert Alphonso Taft, of the powerful Taft political family, was the son of Supreme Court Justice and President of the United States William Howard Taft. He spent four years in the Philippine Islands when his father was the governor, and then attended the Taft School (Connecticut, United States), Yale College, and then Harvard Law School; he graduated first in the class with Yale and Harvard. Upon graduation from Harvard, he practiced law for four years with Maxwell and Ramsey of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, then worked for the Food and Drug Administration for two years. He then returned to Cincinnati to start his own practice.
ww2dbaseOn 17 Oct 1914, Taft married Martha Wheaton Bowers, the heiress daughter of Lloyd Wheaton Bowers, who had served as the United States Solicitor General under his father. They eventually had four sons.
ww2dbaseIn WW1, Taft was rejected by the United States Army for having poor eyesight.
ww2dbaseIn 1917, Taft returned to the Food and Drug Administration as a member of its legal staff. Between 1918 and 1919, he went to Paris, France as legal adviser for the American Relief Administration. He learned to distrust European politicians and the League of Nations as a whole while working in European. In 1919, he returned to Ohio and promoted Herbert Hoover for US President. In 1920, he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker of the House in 1926. In 1930, he was elected to the state senate, but was defeated for re-election in 1932, his only general election defeat in his entire career. His career in the 1920s and 1930s established him as a loyal Republican Party member. Journalist David Brinkley noted his "chilly and remote personality", but also made mention that "[n]o one ever doubted his intelligence".
ww2dbaseIn 1938, Taft was elected to the United States Senate. He ignored the tradition that new members of the Senate be quiet for a year or two; instead, he campaigned aggressively against Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and Lend-Lease with his "nasal, flat, grating voice". He also fought against unions and consistently voted for smaller government, believing that the private sector would be enough a force to lift the economy from the Great Depression without government intervention. He was also a known isolationist. "An invasion of the United States by the German Army is as fantastic as would be an invasion of Germany by the American Army", he exclaimed, even after Germany invaded France after the conquest and occupation of Poland was complete. In late 1941, before American involvement in WW2, he thought the best way to end the European War was "negotiated peace".
ww2dbaseAfter United States' entrance into WW2, Taft fully supported the American war effort, but continued to publicly state his opinion that the entry was "debatable". After the war, he condemned the Nuremberg Trials, commenting that the legal process was a mockery of justice.
ww2dbaseIn 1947, the Taft-Hartley Labor Act was passed by the US Congress, in effect until today, which banned unfair union practices, outlawed closed shops, and authorized the President of the United States to seek federal court injunctions to impose an eighty-day cooling-off period if a strike threatened the national interest. In 1951, he voiced his opinion against President Harry Truman's decision to remove General Douglas MacArthur from power, going as far as calling for Truman's impeachment.
ww2dbaseIn 1952, Taft attempted to run for president for the third time, but was defeated by Dwight Eisenhower within the Republican Party. In 1953, as one of the most powerful politicians in the US Congress, he was the Senate Majority Leader. With his influences, he was a strong supporter of President Eisenhower's domestic policies.
ww2dbaseAlthough Taft was powerful at this stage of his career, Brinkley thought Taft was a
ww2dbaseIn early 1953 Taft began to feel pain in his hips. In Apr 1953, after playing golf with Eisenhower, he entered a New York hospital for acute pain. It was discovered that he had cancer, and the tumor had already grown extensively. In late May 1953, he transferred his duties as Senate Majority Leader to Senator William Knowland, though he kept his Senate seat. He passed away two months later after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
ww2dbaseTaft now rests at Indian Hill Episcopal Church Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.
ww2dbaseSources: Washington Goes to War, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2008
Robert Taft Timeline
|8 Sep 1889||Robert Taft was born.|
|31 Jul 1953||Robert Taft passed away.|
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944