William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency, 1909–1913


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About the Book

William Howard Taft declared, “I am sure the automobile coming in as a toy of the wealthier class is going to prove the most useful of them all to all classes, rich and poor.” Unlike his predecessors, who made public their disdain for the automobile, Taft saw the automobile industry as a great source of wealth for this country. The first president to acquire a car in office (Congress granted him three automobiles), Taft is responsible for there being a White House garage in 1909.
This is a meticulously researched reappraisal of the oft-maligned Taft presidency focusing particularly on his cars, his relationship to the automobile and the role of the automobile in the politics of his day. Appendices provide information on the White House garage and stable, Taft’s speech to the Automobile Club of America and a glossary of terms and names.

About the Author(s)

Michael L. Bromley is a writer of political and social commentary and automotive history. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Michael L. Bromley
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 447
Bibliographic Info: 86 photos, notes, glossaries, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006 [2003]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2952-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1330-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     v

Preface     1

Introduction     5


1 Motoring Unspoken     9

2 From Whence a President     22

3 How Dare They?     37

4 The Captain and the Cars     48

5 Two Cars for a Tariff     57

6 Peace at Last     65

7 The People’s House v. The Motor Age     74

8 The Senate of a Great Country!     83

9 Steam, Gasoline and New Stable Boys     97

10 That New Car Smell and a Lady’s Choice (or Just a Precocious Wife?)     108

11 Portents     119

12 Motoring Manifest     127

13 Tariff Soup     136

14 Taft’s Coup     152

15 An Open House (Harmony Applied)     169


16 Civilizing the Savage: Motors, Roads and a Little Question of Money     179

17 A Summer Scorching     191

18 13,000 Miles on the Road to Winona     203

19 Road Blocks     221

20 Taft Settles It     230

21 The Moody Blues: Taft Triumphant and a Democratic November     240

22 All Upside Down     262

23 Automaniacs     273

24 Progressively Unhappy and a Happy Discontent     292


25 The Third Rail and the Cowcatcher     305

26 Outed     315

27 “With a heart full of love and gratitude…”     326

28 Outrage Denied     331

29 Behind The Roar—Taft’s Quiet Game     339

30 Motoring into the Sunset     348

31 The Automobile Triumphant     358

32 “Whatever we have thought of you, we love you”     364

Appendix A: Letters and Documents     371

Appendix B: Inventory of White House Transportation     377

Appendix C: Chronologies     385

Appendix D: Statistics     387

Glossary of Terms     391

Glossary of Names     403

Bibliography     421

Index     429

Book Reviews & Awards

“this is simply a wonderful book. Its scholarship is impeccable and the tale told is fascinating…so much fun to read…scrupulous citations…exemplary appendices”—SAH Journal; “a valuable contribution to automotive history…recommend[ed]…carefully written”—Antique Automobile; “as educational as it is entertaining”—Automobile Quarterly; “refreshing”—Ohioana Quarterly; “masterful contribution to both automotive and Presidential history…covers every inch of ground…author has researched his subject with great care…as complete as would be possible…fascinating…A-O.K…recommended”—Emporium; “hooray…jam-packed with statistics, notes, glossaries and appendices”—Horseless Carriage Gazette; “thorough research…interesting…automobile enthusiasts will find it fascinating”—History: Reviews of New Books.