Ohio History Journal

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"Mr. Republican"



and Public Housing by RICHARD O. DAVIES

To the great majority of his contemporaries, Senator Robert A. Taft em-

bodied the traditional values of self-help, private enterprise, and dislike

for governmental welfare programs. Most Americans believed that Taft

had as his major purpose the root and branch eradication of all New

Deal welfare and regulatory programs. His adamant opposition to the

proliferation of such governmental activities supposedly led to a frontal

assault upon President Harry S. Truman's "Fair Deal." A "basic hatred

of the New Deal" motivated Taft's opposition to Truman's domestic poli-

cies, explained the New Republic.1 In Taft, liberal William V. Shannon

found the personification of "conservative orthodoxy."2 As a senator, an-

other liberal journal editorialized at the time of his death in 1953, Taft

had been "the nation's most relentless enemy of the New and Fair Deal


This image has generally remained until the present. One of the best

historical surveys of the post-war period depicts Taft as the leader against

all reforms of a welfare nature,4 and many leading college texts do little

or nothing to correct this interpretation.5 Elmo Roper, in 1957, wrote that