Quotations From WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT


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  • Socialism proposes no adequate substitute for the motive of enlightened selfishness that to-day is at the basis of all human labor and effort, enterprise and new activity.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. Republican politician, president. Popular Government, ch. 3 (1913).
  • I don't know whither we are drifting, but I do know where every real thinking patriot will stand in the end, and that's by the Constitution.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Letter to Edward Colson, August 31, 1910. Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft, 2: 42, Farrar & Rinehart (1939). Taft wrote after Roosevelt announced his "New Nationalism."
  • I do not know much about politics, but I am trying to do the best I can with this administration until the time shall come for me to turn it over to somebody else.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft, 1: 515, Farrar & Rinehart (1939).

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  • What I am anxious to do is to secure my legislation.... What I want to do is to get through that, and if I can point to a record of usefulness of that kind, I am entirely willing to quit office.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft, 1: 515, Farrar & Rinehart (1939).
  • We passed the Children's Bureau bill calculated to prevent children from being employed too early in factories.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft, 2: 621, Farrar & Rinehart (1939). Taft appointed Julia Lathrop to head a Children's Bureau. She was the first woman ever to become a bureau chief, April 15, 1912.

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  • That all may be so, but when I begin to exercise that power I am not conscious of the power, but only of the limitations imposed on me.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Letter, Butt to his sister-in-law, Clara F. Butt, March 22, 1909. Archie Butt, Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, Military Aide, 1: 26, Doubleday, Doran & Company (1930). Reporter Al Lewis told Butt that the press was getting very angry with Taft, who did not give out press releases every hour, as Roosevelt had done.

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  • When the history of this period is written, [William Jennings] Bryan will stand out as one of the most remarkable men of his generation and one of the biggest political men of our country.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Butt to his sister-in-law, Clara F. Butt, February 21, 1910. Archie Butt, Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Papers of Archie Butt, Military Aide, 1: 286, Doubleday, Doran & Company (1930). Senator Jonathan Bourne, of Oregon, had told Taft that Bryan's career and leadership was more remarkable than that of Theodore Roosevelt.

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  • It does seem strange that the only place in the government which I would have liked to fill myself I am forced to give to another.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Letter, Butt to his sister-in-law, Clara F. Butt, July 8, 1910. Archie Butt, Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Taft, Military Aide, 2: 439, Doubleday, Page & Company (1930). Taft's life goal was to serve on the Supreme Court. He made this comment following the death of Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller and visit to moribund Justice William H. Moody.
  • Action for which I become responsible, or for which my administration becomes responsible, shall be within the law.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. William H. Taft Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, letter to Richard Achilles Ballinger, copy to Gifford Pinchot (Sept. 13, 1909). Ballinger was the Secretary of the Interior, Pinchot the chief forester in the Department of Agriculture.
  • No, the only things which do not bother me are the elements. I can overcome them without a fight. All one has to do to get the best of the elements is to stand pat and one will win.
    William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S. president. Archie Butt, Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, Military Aide, 1: 84, Doubleday, Doran & Company (1930). Taft's reply to Butt's asking, while horseback riding, if he objected to a rain shower.
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