The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Henry F. Pringle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
TROUBLE-SHOOTER AT HOME

PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT was in high spirits in the spring of 1905. He had been inaugurated in his own right. Great plans for the approaching four years seethed in his active mind. He would settle, if he could, the war between Japan and Russia. He would further control the malefactors of great wealth and their wicked allies, the railroad magnates. He might even have a try at tariff reform and currency revision.

Business conditions were good. Even the farmers were happy. But more personal reasons were also behind the presidential radiance. The people loved him and he loved the people. He was a young man, not yet forty-eight years old. Best of all, he was about to start on a well-deserved vacation. On April 3, he described the anticipated joys of a hunting journey in the Rockies. All would go well in Washington, the President said, because he had "left Taft sitting on the lid."1

The phrase, like so many of Roosevelt's, caught the public imagination. It referred, specifically, to potential uprisings in Central and South America and Taft's ability to suppress them. Actually, Taft was so busy as secretary of war that he did no sitting at all. Between 1905 and the end of 1907, Taft was an able executive assistant rather than an adviser to Roosevelt. He no longer viewed the President objectively and weighed his virtues and faults. He agreed without question on nearly every policy, large or small. It was less than a perfect method for training the man who would one day sit in lonely splendor, himself, and ponder how in the world he could escape disaster now that Theodore would no longer tell him what to do.

One searches in vain for a major issue on which Taft took a stand, even in private, against Roosevelt. He agreed with the President on foreign affairs, railroad regulation, antitrust legislation and

____________________
1
New York Times, April 4, 1905.

-272-

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