The Papers of Robert A. Taft - Vol. 3

The Papers of Robert A. Taft - Vol. 3

The Papers of Robert A. Taft - Vol. 3

The Papers of Robert A. Taft - Vol. 3


The third of a four-volume edition of the papers of Robert A. Taft This third volume in the series documents Robert A. Taft's experiences through World War II and his early postwar years. After winning a tough reelection battle as senator from Ohio in 1944, Taft moved steadily upward in the leadership ranks of his party and assumed a preeminent position among the bipartisan group of conservatives that increasingly dominated Congress. Taft was most widely known for his leadership of the postwar effort to revise federal labor law. In 1947 he cosponsored the Taft-Hartley Act, the single most important piece of labor legislation passed in the aftermath of World War II. These amendments to the 1935 National Labor Relations Act defined "unfair" union practices, banned closed shops, and authorized court injunctions that would delay strikes that harmed national security by imposing an eighty-day cooling-off period. In the immediate postwar years Taft recognized the need for federal aid to education, social welfare legislation that assisted the poor, and federal support for public housing. The senator campaigned vigorously for education-assistance legislation (which failed to pass the House of Representatives) and cosponsored the Taft-Wagner-Ellender Housing Act to subsidize residential construction. This volume continues the contribution that The Papers of Robert A. Taft provides to the study of United States political and diplomatic history, Ohio history, and conservative political theory.


This is the third of four volumes of a selected edition of the papers of Robert A. Taft (1889-1953). It documents the World War II and postwar years (1945-48) of a man whose life and public career began in the state of Ohio.

Robert Alphonso Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 8, 1889. He was the son of Judge William Howard Taft and Helen Herron Taft, daughter of Cincinnati lawyer and politician John W Herron, Sr. Robert finished his primary education in Cincinnati and the Philippine Islands, where his father served as civil governor from 1900 to 1903. He then prepared for college at The Taft School, a private school founded and operated by his uncle, Horace D. Taft, in Watertown, Connecticut. After preparatory school in 1906, Robert studied at Yale (Class of 1910) and at Harvard Law School (Class of 1913). The competitive, industrious, introverted young man led his class at both college and law school, editing the Harvard Law Review his third year.

Turning down an invitation to clerk for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Taft returned to Cincinnati in the autumn of 1913 to begin his legal career at the firm of Maxwell and Ramsey. Taft spent more than three years at the firm, with little contact with senior partner, Lawrence Maxwell, with little challenge in his work, and, not surprisingly, with very little salary.

The major event shaping this early phase of Taft's career was his marriage to Martha Wheaton Bowers, daughter of Taft administration solicitor general Lloyd Bowers, in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 1914. Energetic, intelligent, and outgoing, Martha was a wife whose positive effect on Taft's career underscores the importance of the wives of politicians in the early twentieth century.

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