The inaugural volume of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft is composed of two of his earliest books, Four Aspects of Civic Duty and Present Day Problems. Based on a series of lectures delivered at Yale in 1906, Four Aspects of Civic Duty is an attempt by then Secretary of War Taft to bring to the attention of his audience the importance of civic duty from the perspective of the university graduate, the judge on the bench, the colonial administrator, and the national executive branch of government. His remarks were drawn from his own experience, while at the same time he laid down the principles of citizenship with which all people could identify. In Present Day Problems, William Howard Taft demonstrates the depth of his knowledge and the seriousness of his reflections on a wide range of topics including Sino-American relations and the ongoing contest between capital and labor in America’s increasingly industrial socioeconomy. The problems he takes up are met head-on and discussed in a fashion likely to persuade his audience that he is well prepared to tackle the burdens of the presidency.
The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, in eight volumes, will include Taft’s complete published works as well as his presidential and state addresses and selected court opinions from his days as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The second volume of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft is dedicated to the speeches and writings that displayed his thinking in the autumn of 1908 and the following winter.
At this time he was campaigning for the presidency against the well-known William Jennings Bryan, and in Taft’s writings is evidence of the contrast in style between Taft and Bryan and between Taft and his predecessor, Teddy Roosevelt. as well. Although uncomfortable with campaigning, he thoughtfully addresses the concerns of the day that framed the election, including race, the Philippines, and socialism.
Political Issues and Outlooks also contains speeches made after the election and leading up to his inauguration as the twenty-seventh president of the United States. Introduced by a commentary from the general series editor Professor David H. Burton, the second volume of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft is a revealing look at the machinations of United States politics at the beginning of the twentieth century and a glimpse into the mind of one of the century’s most influential political architects.
The third volume of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft imparts an appreciation of the range of the twenty-seventh president’s interests. Beginning with his inaugural address and concluding with a detailed exposition of governmental expenses and needed economies, President William Howard Taft showed himself willing to tackle the routine as well as the rarified responsibilities of executive rule.
Whether he was addressing the issue of strikes and labor unions or conservation, President Taft consistently demonstrated that, in word and action, he was prepared to be a modern president. What impresses the reader of these remarks is Taft’s willingness to administer to virtually every part of the nation, thereby proving that he was not a mere figurehead but a chief executive truly concerned about problems across the country. Perhaps, as his words here indicate, Taft was not a good politician after all but a kind man who saw himself as president of all the people. As the first of two volumes directly related to Taft’s tenure as president, Presidential Addresses and State Papers documents a pivotal time in the public life of this man from Ohio. Introduced by a commentary from the general series editor Professor David H. Burton, the third volume of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft underscores the presidential stature of William Howard Taft.
“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.
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.
Volume VI of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft follows the career of William Howard Taft upon his leaving the White House. It consists of two short publications from 1914 and 1915.
The first, The President and His Powers, is based on a series of lectures delivered at Columbia University and draws on Taft’s experience in the presidency and the executive branch. It speaks particularly to the nature of executive power and its place in the American system and is rooted in his disagreement with Theodore Roosevelt regarding presidential power. Taft believed all presidential power must be traced to some specific grant of power or be necessary to its exercise, while Roosevelt saw the presidency as a position of “steward of the people” limited only by some express provision of the Constitution.
The second, The United States and Peace, reflects Taft’s interest in foreign policy, which was intensified by his years as governor of the Philippines and as secretary of war, as well as by his presidency. Originally four lectures delivered in 1914, The United States and Peace discusses the Monroe Doctrine, the threat to peace presented by incidents of violence to foreigners in the United States, the maintenance of peace through international arbitration, and the trend toward federation in international affairs. Taft hoped to see the latter result in the establishment of an independent judiciary to resolve international disputes.
Taft’s reasoned arguments, supplemented by the commentaries of Professors McWilliams and Gerrity, will stimulate interest among historians, lawmakers, political activists, and the general public.
Eager to turn the congressional election of 1918 into a confirmation of his foreign policy, President Woodrow Wilson was criticized for abandoning the spirit of the popular slogan “Politics adjourned!”
His predecessor, William Howard Taft, found Wilson difficult to deal with and took issue with his version of the League of Nations, which Taft felt was inferior to the model proposed by the League to Enforce Peace. Rather than join the massive Republican opposition to the Treaty of Versailles, however, Taft instead supported Wilson’s controversial decision to travel to Paris as the head of the American peace delegation, and he defended the critical tenth article in the covenant, which detractors saw as a surrender of American sovereignty. He also counseled Wilson to insert a clause concerning the Monroe Doctrine that would pacify the Senate’s group of “reservationists,” whose votes were essential to approval of the treaty.
Volume VII in The Collected Works of William Howard Taft consists of the Taft Papers on League of Nations originally published in 1920. This is a collection ofTaft’s speeches, newspaper articles, and complementary documents that reflect his consistent support for a league of nations and, eventually, for the Covenant of the League of Nations emanating from the Paris Peace Conference.
Although the failure of the treaty and its League of Nations can probably be laid at the feet of an obstinate Wilson and a wily Henry Cabot Lodge, William Howard Taft can be credited with rising above partisanship to emerge as the League’s most consistent supporter.
As in the rest of the Collected Works, Taft Papers on League of Nations provides a window on the machinations surrounding some of the most significant decisions of the era.
William Howard Taft’s presidency (1909-1913), succeeding Theodore Roosevelt’s, was mired in bitter partisan fighting, and Taft sometimes blundered politically. However, this son of Cincinnati assumed his true calling when President Warren G. Harding appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1921. Taft remains the only person to have served both as president of the United States and as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume VIII, consists of “Liberty under Law” and selected Supreme Court opinions, among the most instructive accomplishments of Taft’s ten years at the helm of the court. The writings reveal the sober judgments of a federalist who viewed state regulation with suspicion, championed national government, and saw an independent and powerful judiciary as the bulwark protecting the “vested rights” that the framers of the U.S. Constitution sought to guarantee.
Whatever his failings as a politician, Taft was an intellectual powerhouse who knew how to use the law as a lever to encourage society to move toward more stable and productive ends. Although Taft is considered an average president at best, historians and political scientists rank him among fifteen “near greats” who have served on the high court. His ability and his love for the law shine through in Volume VIII, the concluding volume of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft. As Taft reportedly said to President Harding upon his appointment as chief justice, “I love judges and I love courts. They are my ideals on earth of what we shall meet afterward in heaven under a just God.”
More than 600 letters and interviews providing information about Abraham Lincoln's pre-political
and pre-legal careers are included in this volume, a priceless collection
never before available in one place.
Women to whom Lincoln proposed
marriage, political allies and adversaries, judges and fellow attorneys,
longtime comrades, erstwhile friends--all speak out here in words first
gathered by William H. Herndon, Lincoln's law partner, between 1865 and
1890. Historian David Herbert Donald has called Herndon's materials "the
basic source for Abraham Lincoln's early years."
Some of those Herndon questioned
were illiterate; others could read but barely write. Completion of this
undertaking took the editors to three major collections for the mammoth
task of transcribing documents that often were nearly illegible.
Invaluable to Lincoln scholars
and intriguing to anyone curious about Lincoln and his times, the book
includes an introduction, scholarly annotations, a registry of the informants,
and a detailed topical index.
In these times of social media saturation, many are the travelers who set off to track down an Instagrammable meal at a hole-in-the-wall featured by Anthony Bourdain or David Chang. Seamus O’Brien, however, journeyed to an unfamiliar locale with an analog guide from another era: the notes made by Joseph Dalton Hooker as he chronicled his journeys in the Sikkim Himilaya in the northeastern most corner of India. Eager to see the plants described in Hooker’s account, O’Brien set off nearly one hundred and fifty years later to trace Hooker’s footsteps through the natural wonders of the Himalayas, recounting the adventure in this new book. With Hooker as his guide, O’Brien compares mid-nineteenth-century notes to twenty-first-century reality—and he discovers that remarkably little has changed. Accompanied by Hooker’s maps and illustrations, the book is a testament to the region’s splendor and to Hooker’s skill as a botanist and cartographer.