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The Roots of Modern ConservatismDewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party$
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Michael Bowen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834855

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807869192_bowen

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Moderating Republicanism, 1953–1964

Moderating Republicanism, 1953–1964

(p.173) Eight Moderating Republicanism, 1953–1964
The Roots of Modern Conservatism

Michael Bowen

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Taft's death and how it made the Old Guard lose both its guiding force and its most visible public presence. Without its figurehead and legislative leader, the conservative faction lost much of its cohesiveness just as the White House and the RNC planned a concerted effort to remove its members from the Republican organization. No other partisan had enough stature to challenge Eisenhower and the moderate agenda of the Dewey wing effectively. The two who would do so later in the decade, Senators William F. Knowland and Barry Goldwater, openly expressed their displeasure with certain policies, but in the mid-1950s neither had the reputation or following of Taft. As the conservatives searched for a new leader, the Dewey wing escalated its purge of the Old Guard and sought to use Eisenhower's popularity to rebuild the GOP as a liberal organization.

Keywords:   Taft, Old Guard, guiding force, public presence, legislative leader, conservative faction, White House, RNC

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