=President Taft’s Policies.=—After the enactment of the tariff bill, Taft continued to push forward with his legislative program. He recommended, and Congress created, a special court of commerce with jurisdiction, among other things, over appeals from the interstate commerce commission, thus facilitating judicial review of the railway rates fixed and the orders issued by that body. This measure was quickly followed by an act establishing a system of postal savings banks in connection with the post office—a scheme which had long been opposed by private banks. Two years later, Congress defied the lobby of the express companies and supplemented the savings banks with a parcels post system, thus enabling the American postal service to catch up with that of other progressive nations. With a view to improving the business administration of the federal government, the President obtained from Congress a large appropriation for an economy and efficiency commission charged with the duty of inquiring into wasteful and obsolete methods and recommending improved devices and practices. The chief result of this investigation was a vigorous report in favor of a national budget system, which soon found public backing.
President Taft negotiated with England and France general treaties providing for the arbitration of disputes which were “justiciable” in character even though they might involve questions of “vital interest and national honor.” They were coldly received in the Senate and so amended that Taft abandoned them altogether. A tariff reciprocity agreement with Canada, however, he forced through Congress in the face of strong opposition from his own party. After making a serious breach in Republican ranks, he was chagrined to see the whole scheme come to naught by the overthrow of the Liberals in the Canadian elections of 1911.
=Prosecution of the Trusts.=—The party schism was even enlarged by what appeared to be the successful prosecution of several great combinations. In two important cases, the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company on the ground that they violated the Sherman Anti-Trust law. In taking this step Chief Justice White was at some pains to state that the law did not apply to combinations which did not “unduly” restrain trade. His remark, construed to mean that the Court would not interfere with corporations as such, became the subject of a popular outcry against the President and the judges.