William H. Taft and Colonel Goethals


This photograph from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress shows William Howard Taft (1857–1930) and Colonel George Washington Goethals (1858–1928) on a visit to Panama. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. Taft was Secretary of War to U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, who charged Taft with responsibility for building the canal. Roosevelt appointed Goethals, an army officer and civil engineer, as the project’s chief engineer. Goethals managed to complete the canal by 1914, two years ahead of the target date. Taft went on to serve as president of the United States from 1909 to 1913, and as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.

Last updated: May 29, 2013