Born in Civil War–era Cincinnati in 1857, William Howard Taft rose rapidly through legal, judicial, and political ranks, graduating from Yale and becoming a judge while still in his twenties. In 1900, President William McKinley appointed Taft to head a commission charged with preparing the Philippines for US-led civil government, setting the stage for Taft’s involvement in US-Philippine relations and the development of his imperial vision across two decades. While biographies of Taft and histories of US-Philippine relations are easy to find, few works focus on Taft’s vision for the Philippines that, despite a twenty-year crusade, would eventually fail. William Howard Taft and the Philippines fills this void in the scholarship, taking up Taft’s vantage point on America’s imperialist venture in the Philippine Islands between 1900 and 1921.
Adam D. Burns traces Taft’s course through six chapters, beginning with his years in the islands and then following it through his tenure as President Roosevelt’s secretary of war, his term as president of the United States, and his life after departing the White House. Across these years Taft continued his efforts to forge a lasting imperial bond and prevent Philippine independence.
Grounded in extensive primary source research, William Howard Taft and the Philippines is an engaging work that will interest scholars of Philippine history, American foreign policy, imperialism, the American presidency, the Progressive Era, and more.