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Robert Alphonso Taft

Taft, Robert Alphonso, 1889–1953, American politician, b. Cincinnati, Ohio; son of William Howard Taft. He practiced law in Ohio and served (1921–26, 1931–32) in the state legislature. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1938, Taft quickly became the acknowledged leader of conservative Republicans. He attacked President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal for the expansion of federal power at the expense of state and local government and vigorously urged economy in government and restoration of balanced budgets. A leading advocate of isolationism before World War II, he later backed U.S. participation in the United Nations. In 1947 he helped write the Taft-Hartley Labor Act. After the war Taft again became the voice of the isolationists: he voted against ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and changed his position on the United Nations. Taft was a supporter of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who condemned the Korean and China policies of the Truman administration. Known to friends and enemies alike as "Mr. Republican," Taft was a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952 but lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower. After Eisenhower's election, Taft became Senate majority leader and a friend and influential adviser of Eisenhower in his first months as president. He acted as an important bridge between the Eastern and Midwestern factions of his party. Taft's Foreign Policy for Americans appeared in 1951.

See biography by J. T. Patterson (1972); study by R. Kirk and J. McClelland (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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