Edited by Francis Graham Lee
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.”
Francis Graham Lee is chair of the political science department at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. He is the author of several books, including Neither Conservative nor Liberal and Wall of Controversy. More info →
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The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume II
Political Issues and Outlooks: Speeches Delivered Between August 1908 and February 1909
Edited by David H. Burton
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.
The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume I
Four Aspects of Civic Duty & Present Day Problems
Edited by David H. Burton and A. E. Campbell
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.
The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Volume V
Popular Government and The Anti-trust Act and the Supreme Court
Edited by David H. Burton, David Potash, and Donald F. Anderson
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.