President William Howard Taft Progressive Era

William Howard Taft's presidency during the Progressive Era was marked by a high number of trust-busting suits, fair regulation of railroad rates through the Interstate Commerce Commission, the passage of two constitutional amendments and the use of dollar diplomacy to stimulate trade with Latin America. Even though, Taft was an unpopular president, he led an active term in office and was just as progressive as Theodore Roosevelt. According to, Taft initiated 80 anti-trust suits against industrial combinations--nearly twice the number issued by his predecessor Roosevelt. One of the most notable suits was against U.S. Steel for acquiring a Tennessee company.

Taft pushed for big-business regulations by empowering the Interstate Commerce Commission to stop the efforts of twenty-five western railroads to raise their rates by twenty percent. Taft initially threatened to enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act, but eventually settled the issue by having all rate requests go through a newly developed department of the ICC.

Taft was responsible for important budgetary policy reform. He changed the budgeting process for the executive branch by having each executive department submit its request to the cabinet for analysis and by creating the Commission on Economy and Efficiency to study and improve budgeting procedures. In the area of race relations, Taft encouraged African-Americans to seek education and engage in entrepreneurship, and shot down legislation that would have harmed blacks by requiring a literacy test for unskilled laborers.

Theodore Roosevelt didn't want to run for reelection in 1908, so instead he backed Taft, his Secretary of War. Taft won easily. Taft's approach to presidency was very different from Roosevelt's. Taft was quiet, careful, and feared power. However, Taft supported a lot of Progressive causes. . He broke up a lot of trusts. He favored the graduated income tax, approved new safety rules for mines, and signed laws giving government workers and eight hour day. The Commerce Department dealt with child labor under Taft. However, he lost a lot of Progressive support. They accused him of "blocking conservative efforts." (The American Nation, Davidson and Stoff).


Created with images by Political Graveyard - "William Howard Taft (1857-1930)" • cliff1066™ - "William Howard Taft, Twenty-seventh President (1909-1913)"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.