“A time when panics seem far removed is the best time to prepare our financial system to withstand a storm. The most crying need this country has is a proper banking and currency system. The existing one is inadequate, and everyone who has studied the question admits it.”—William Howard Taft
The interaction between President William Howard Taft and the Congress provides a window on his leadership. Volume IV of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft is devoted to his messages to the legislative branch and concerns some of the pressing issues of the day, issues that have relevance still.
Oftentimes President Taft was at odds with a somewhat reactionary Congress, causing him to veto legislation that he thought unwise. For example, his commitment to the independence of elected judges led him to reject statehood for Arizona until its constitution was altered to address his objection.
His messages also touched on subjects for which he led the way over the objections of Congress, such as his recommendation of a federal law to protect resident aliens against denial of their civil rights and his advocacy of free trade with Canada.
In his commentary to the volume, Professor Burton points out: “There is exhibited time after time concern for the American people, for men and women from different walks of life. Taft comes across less as a judge, which he had been, or the chief justice he was to become, and more as a sitting president of all the people.”
Taft’s Presidential Messages to Congress provides the documentary evidence to support that claim.