The Papers of Robert A. Taft: 1889-1939 - Vol. 1

By Robert A. Taft; Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. | Go to book overview

Preface

This is the first of four planned volumes of a selective edition of the papers of Robert A. Taft (1889–1953). These papers have been generally much less accessible than those of Taft’s father, President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft (1857–1930). They are, however, a source of much information about American political life in the first half of the twentieth century, and they illuminate the national and international significance 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 began his education in Cincinnati, and it was to Cincinnati that Taft returned in the autumn of 1913 to begin his legal career, after years spent abroad with his father and at school.

The major event shaping Taft during the early phase of his entire career, both public and private, was his marriage to Martha Wheaton Bowers, daughter of Lloyd Bowers, solicitor general in the Taft Administration. Energetic, intelligent, and outgoing, Martha was a wife whose positive effect on Taft’s career underscores the influence exerted by wives of politicians in the early twentieth century. Over the next decade, the Tafts had four sons: William Howard III, Robert Jr., Lloyd Bowers, and Horace Dwight.

America’s entry into the Great War gave Taft the opportunity to begin his career of public service. He worked in close association with Herbert Hoover at the Food Administration in Washington, D.C., and at the American Relief Administration in Europe. After the war, Taft continued his political activities, dividing his time between private law practice and Republican Party politics.

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