Robert Alphonso Taft Sr.


Robert Alphonso Taft Sr. Famous memorial

Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Death 31 Jul 1953 (aged 63)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Memorial ID 13113 View Source

US Senator. A member of the Republican Party and a conservative, he served as a representative from the state of Ohio in the US Senate from 1939 until his death in 1953 and was regarded by historians as one of the most powerful US Senators of the 20th century. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio he was the oldest son of William Howard Taft, the 27th US President and later a US Supreme Court Justice. He spent four years in the Philippines as a young boy where his father served as governor from 1901 to 1904. In 1910 he graduated from Yale College at New Haven, Connecticut and from Harvard Law School in 1913. After passing the Ohio bar exam he practiced for four years with the firm of Maxwell and Ramsey (now Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP) in Cincinnati, Ohio. When the US entered World War I in April 1917, he attempted to join the US Army, but he was rejected due to his poor eyesight. In 1918 he worked for the Food and Drug Administration in Washington DC and was in Paris, France as legal advisor for the American Relief Administration. In 1920 he returned to Cincinnati to open his own law office and that year he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives and served as Speaker of the House in 1926. Elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1930, he was defeated for re-election in 1932, the only defeat in a general election of his political career. In 1938 he ran for the US Senate and defeated the Democratic incumbent Robert Bulkley. He led the Conservative Coalition that opposed President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, citing the inefficiency and waste of many of its programs, but he did fully support public housing and the Social Security programs. A staunch non-interventionist, he believed the US should avoid any involvement in European or Asian wars and concentrate instead on solving its domestic problems. Although he fully supported the American war effort after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the declaration of war on Japan by the US Congress, he continued to harbor a deep suspicion of American involvement in postwar military alliances with other nations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He was one of the few voices during World War II in opposition to Japanese American internment. In 1944 he came within 18,000 votes of losing his re-election bid to Democrat William G. Pickrel. He condemned the post World War II Nuremberg Trials as victor's justice under ex post facto laws and his opposition to the trials was strongly criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike and is sometimes alleged as a main reason for his failure to secure the Republican nomination for president. When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1947, he focused on labor-management relations as Chair of the Senate Labor Committee and wrote the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which remains the basic labor law. It was vetoed by President Harry S. Truman but Taft convinced both houses of Congress to override the veto. In 1948 he made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, but was defeated by his arch-rival, Governor Thomas Dewey. In 1949 he engineered the passage of the National Housing Act, one of the few Fair Deal proposals of President Truman that he supported. He supported the Truman Doctrine, reluctantly approved the Marshall Plan, and opposed NATO as unnecessary and provocative to the Soviet Union. He took the lead among Republicans in condemning President Truman's handling of the Korean War, questioning the constitutionality of the war itself. In 1950 he won a third term to the US Senate, easily defeating his Democratic opponent Joseph Ferguson. In 1952 he sought the Republican presidential nomination again but when the party's moderates convinced US Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower to run, he lost out in a close and bitter contest. In 1953, following Eisenhower's election, he served as the Senate Majority Leader and in May of that year he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that had spread throughout his body. He died in New York City, New York two months later from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 63. A memorial statue in his honor is located north of the US Capitol in Washington DC, on Constitution Avenue. His law firm, Taft, Stettinius, and Hollister, which he opened in 1924 with his brother Charles, continues to bear his name today.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 17 Oct 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 13113
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Alphonso Taft Sr. (8 Sep 1889–31 Jul 1953), Find a Grave Memorial ID 13113, citing Indian Hill Episcopal Presbyterian Churchyard, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .