MastroNet Spring 2005
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In his 1911 State of the Union Address, William Howard Taft explained his veto of the "wool bill" by saying that he had been awaiting the Tariff Board's upcoming "detailed report on wool and wool manufactures." Taft felt that it was in the best interests of the producers, manufacturers and consumers that "legislation should not be hastily enacted in the absence of such information," and therefore concluded: "I was not myself possessed at that time of adequate knowledge of the facts to determine whether or not the proposed act was in accord with my pledge to support a fair and reasonable protective policy; that such legislation might prove only temporary and inflict upon a great industry the evils of continued uncertainty."
But, for President Taft, such uncertainty was now a part of the past. As of his State of the Union Speech, Taft had the appropriate information at his disposal to submit to the Tarriff Board, and he announced it right then and there: "I now herewith submit a report...On the basis of these findings I now recommend that the Congress proceed to a consideration of this [legislation] with a view to its revision and a general reduction of its rates."
Offered here are Taft's personal handwritten notes for that speech, which detail the facts and figures of the wool industry—particularly in its relationship to hosiery and knit wool—that were essential for President Taft to reintroduce, in good conscience, legislation on the matter. Across two 4" x 5-1/4" lined sheets (NM with tiny staple holes in the upper left corner), Taft writes, in full, "The number of wage earners engaged in the manufacture of wool in 1909 was 201,751. The same number engaged in that of housing and knit goods also affected by this bill was 129,287 or perhaps 331,038 in all representing a million and a half or our population dependent for a living on the continuance of the industry. The capital engaged in wool manufacture is $508,323,000, while in the hosiery and knit wool industry it amounts to 163,041,000 or $671,974,000 in both. The number of persons engaged in sheep and wool raising in the United States is [blank space], the number of sheep is [blank space] and their value is [blank space]. 20% of knit & hosiery material is wool." Taft's black fountain-pen handwriting is clear and distinct (except for the second-to-last sentence, which is thickly stroked), grading "9-10" in strength. A wonderful and unique behind-the-scenes look at Taft's 1911 State of the Union address in the making. LOAs from James Spence & Steve Grad and John Reznikoff/PSA DNA.
Two Pages of Unique Handwritten Notes from President William H. Taft's 1911 State of the Union Speech
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