William H. Taft's Presidency

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What did William Howard Taft do for conservation?

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William Howard Taft was the president who immediately followed Theodore Roosevelt. Having served under Roosevelt as his Secretary of War and political confidant, Roosevelt hand-picked Taft to succeed him. Consequently, Taft vowed to continue programs started under Roosevelt’s administration, including his conservation efforts such as the National Conservation Commission appointed...

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William Howard Taft was the president who immediately followed Theodore Roosevelt. Having served under Roosevelt as his Secretary of War and political confidant, Roosevelt hand-picked Taft to succeed him. Consequently, Taft vowed to continue programs started under Roosevelt’s administration, including his conservation efforts such as the National Conservation Commission appointed in 1908 and the establishment of several national monuments.

But Taft lacked the charismatic personality and presidential activism of Roosevelt, focusing more on implementing existing laws than pushing Congress to enact new legislation. In terms of conservation, he was able to obtain legislation removing millions of acres of Federal land from public sale, create a Bureau of Mines within the Department of the Interior to protect mineral deposits, and support a bond issue for irrigation projects. He also withdrew his predecessor's order to reserve certain lands as possible public dam sites but ordered a study to determine what acreage should be protected.

Nevertheless, Taft was accused of being anti-conservationist because he forced Roosevelt's forestry chief Gifford Pinchot to resign after Pinchot publicly opposed policy matters with him and Secretary of the Interior Richard A. Ballinger, jeopardizing the gains Roosevelt had made in the conservation of natural resources.

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