The fifth volume of The Complete Works of William Howard Taft presents two publications Taft wrote as Kent Professor of Constitutional Law at Yale University, the position he assumed in 1913 after he was defeated in his bid for re-election as U.S. president. The first, Popular Government, was prepared for a series of lectures, but was motivated by Taft’s passion over the issue of constitutional interpretation, which had been hotly contested during the campaign. Organized around the preamble of the Constitution, the lectures and later the book were opportunities for Taft to restate his opposition to the direct democracy movement and to reveal the workings of a conservative mind.
In the second, The Anti-trust Act and the Supreme Court, Taft articulates his position in the ongoing debate over the conventional nineteenth-century notion of “laissez faire” and the provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Taft had pursued a policy of vigorous antitrust enforcement during his presidency. In this book he intended to demonstrate that restraint of trade was part of the common law, thereby arguing to good effect in favor of reasonable restraint of trade in his own time.
Taft's careful distinction between predatory monopolistic practices and the reasonable business practices of well-behaved corporations continues to inform today's chambers of government.